How do you get an apartment in East Jerusalem?

Answers to your questions about the news.
March 16 2010 6:30 PM

How To Get an Apartment in East Jerusalem

Who builds settlements, and who moves into them?

An Israeli flag from the Kidmat Zion Jewish settlement community in East Jerusalem. Click image to expand.
An Israeli flag from the Kidmat Zion Jewish settlement community in East Jerusalem

Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli forces on Tuesday—part of a continuing row over the Israeli Interior Ministry's plans to build new housing units in East Jerusalem. Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser defended the move against criticism from the United States and others, explaining that "Jerusalem is a big city. It is a city that has to grow." How do settlements actually get built, and who moves into them?

Real estate in East Jerusalem works much like it does elsewhere in the Jewish state. The vast majority of land throughout the country is technically public, with nearly 80 percent owned by the state. An additional 14 percent is owned by the Jewish National Fund but managed by a government agency, the Israel Land Administration. When the government opens land for development, as it has in East Jerusalem, it invites tenders. The successful bidder constructs and markets the new development. New tenants pay the private company but sign leases with the government. (If someone in Israel says they "own" property, it usually means they have a 49-year, renewable lease.) Any citizen, including Israeli Arabs, can sign a lease for a new East Jerusalem unit. So can Jewish foreign nationals entitled to immigrate under the Law of Return.   But noncitizen residents—a category that includes many Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem—are not eligible. *  

Advertisement

Like those entering any other real estate market, Israelis looking to sign leases in East Jerusalem have the location, cost, and character of their prospective developments in mind. There are upscale neighborhoods as well as low-income ones with large immigrant populations (often from the former Soviet Union). Ramat Shlomo, where the Interior Ministry just announced plans to build 1,600 new units, is ultra-Orthodox.

It's possible for the noncitizen residents of East Jerusalem to rent an apartment from someone who holds a lease with the government. There are a number of Palestinians, for example, in areas such as French Hill, and Neve Yaakov, who sublet from Israelis on short-term contracts. Due in part to the fact that noncitizens cannot sign leases, there is a housing crunch for Palestinians, and many resort to building without municipal approval.

Got a question about today's news? Ask the Explainer.

Explainer thanks Francesca Burke of Amnesty International, Ori Nir of Peace Now, and Daniel Seidemann of Ir Amim.

Correction, March 18, 2010: This article originally implied that all Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem are noncitizen residents. Some are citizens. (Return  to the corrected sentence.)

Become a fan of Slate  and the Explainer  on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Jurisprudence

Scalia’s Liberal Streak

The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.

Colorado Is Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

Culturebox

Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
The Slate Quiz
Sept. 18 2014 11:44 PM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.