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http://www.jpost.com/com/Archive/10.May.1999/News/Article-4.html


Ex-advisers to Kollek: Ruthless housing quota system for Arabs

By Ben Lynfield

JERUSALEM (May 10) - Israel has used a "ruthless" quota system to curb the ability of Arabs to build legally in east Jerusalem, according to a new book to be published today by two advisers to former mayor Teddy Kollek, Amir Cheshin and Avi Melamed, and Bill Hutman, a reporter who covered the Jerusalem beat for The Jerusalem Post.

The housing quotas for Arab neighborhoods, which the authors of Separate and Unequal (Harvard University Press) argue have nothing to do with urban planning considerations, have been aimed at encouraging Arabs to leave Jerusalem and at limiting the Arab population to 28.8 percent, what it was in June 1967.

The quotas are outlined in a 1993 document of the city's planning department that the authors culled from Kollek's personal archive. A chart from the document listing neighborhoods and their quotas is reprinted in the book.

"Allowing too many new homes in Arab neighborhoods would mean too many Arab residents in the city," has been the essence of the municipality and government policy, write the authors. "The idea was to move as many Jews as possible into east Jerusalem, and move as many Arabs as possible out of the city entirely."

"It was a ruthless policy, if only for the fact that the needs (to say nothing of the rights) of Palestinian residents were ignored," the book says.

A spokeswoman for the Jerusalem Municipality declined to comment yesterday, saying: "We don't react to books." Housing Ministry media adviser Moshe Eilat said that there are no housing quotas for Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem. "The policy now is to develop east Jerusalem and enable residents to have [residences], but on the basis of approved building plans. I can't tell what went on in the past."

He said he was not familiar with a 28.8 percent target figure for limiting the Arab population of Jerusalem, but added: "There is an intention in Jerusalem to have a majority of Jews. There has been a desire to perpetuate the 1967 demographic situation and to continue with this status quo."

Another chapter of the book relates how Kollek, worried about being ousted from office by the Likud's Ehud Olmert, was anxious to avert a stay-away call by the PLO that would discourage eligible Arab voters from voting, according to the book. The PLO had traditionally urged east Jerusalem residents to refrain from voting in municipal contests, believing this would constitute recognition of Israel's claims to the entire city.

In 1993, Kollek met twice secretly with Faisal Husseini, the top PLO figure in the city, to coax an Arab turnout, the book recounts. He also asked a Palestinian businessman with contacts in the PLO, Omar Khatib, to transmit a message to Arafat. "The mayor asked Khatib, also known as Abu Khalid, to see if Arafat would be willing to give his approval for Palestinians in east Jerusalem to vote in the mayoral election, or at least not make any statement or take any action preventing such participation," the book says. In return, Kollek promised to push through a plan granting greater self-rule to east Jerusalem residents.

The book said that, during his meetings with Husseini and other Palestinian leaders, Kollek was made to believe that Arafat would neither call for participation, nor vocally oppose it. In the event, only 5.8 percent of eligible Arab voters participated in the election.

Husseini, asked last week about the veracity of the account, declined to comment on it specifically, but hinted that he may have been involved in discussions about the elections. "I would like to say that, unfortunately, Teddy Kollek discouraged Arabs from voting by accepting the project of Ras al-Amud."

Shortly before election day, the city council adopted a plan approving Jewish housing in the Arab Ras al-Amud area, with Kollek walking out of the meeting and not being present at the time of the vote.

Kollek, 87, said through a spokesman yesterday that he "can't remember delivering such a message to Arafat, but in general whenever I spoke to Faisal Husseini, I told him how important it is for Arabs in Jerusalem to vote."


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