by Sarah Kaminker
City planning is one of the tools used by Government to distribute a com¬munity's resources, and it is, therefore, a political act wherever and when¬ever it is performed. Political planning in a democratic society presuppos¬es that 1) resources will be distributed on a relatively equitable basis, 2) the goals of the plan will be clearly stated, and 3) the entire citizenry will ben¬efit, either directly as part of a special group or indirectly as a participant in the life of a vitalized city.
The term "political planning" is used pejoratively when these three planning principles have been deliberately rejected, as they have been in planning East Jerusalem.
Distributing Resources in East Jerusalem
1. Land Takeover
Land is the major resource of East Jerusalem and its distribution is the pri¬mary concern of the governmental planning function. Almost all of the land being distributed (estimates range from 85% to 90% of the land of East Jerusalem) belongs to one group — the Palestinians — and is being award¬ed through the tools of planning to another group — the Israelis.
A map of East Jerusalem showing the location of each government-¬prepared town planning schemes (TPS), will delineate the boundaries of 10 large-size neighborhood plans and 13 small-size neighborhood plans. These are scattered over the land area of East Jerusalem, separated by considerable swatches of land where no planning exists. These uncon¬nected spots on the map indicate which neighborhoods are for Israelis and which for Palestinians. The large-size neighborhoods are for Jews, the small for Palestinians.
All of the Jewish neighborhoods are new; that is, they were planned on vacant land that was expropriated by the government after the 1967 war. Not one new Palestinian neighborhood has been planned in East Jerusalem since then. All of the Palestinian neighborhoods were in existence before the war, but their size has been reduced by the spot zoning plans. For example, Issawiye was 10,000 dunums [one dunum is about 4 acres] in size before the war; but only 666 dunums are included within the zoning plan. In other words, 9,300 dunums of land cannot be used by their Issawiyan owners.
None of the large swatches of unplanned land that separate one spot neighborhood plan from another may be used by their owners. They serve as a land reservoir for future Jewish neighborhoods. This has been the case in the past and undoubtedly will also be the case in the future. A few of the many examples: unplanned land owned by residents of Beit Hanina-¬Shu'fat (4,400 dunums) was expropriated in 1980 for the planning and con¬struction of the new Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev; unplanned land owned by residents of Urn Tuba and excluded from the boundaries of the plan for that Palestinian neighborhood were expropriated for a new Jewish neighborhood to be called Har Homa. It was approved this year (1995). The municipality keeps unplanned Palestinian land vacant until the time is ripe for expropriation. The law enables the municipality to demolish any houses built on unzoned land and the municipality is a consistent enforcer of the law, at least in East Jerusalem if not in West Jerusalem.
By a system of spot zoning that reduces the size of existing Palestinian neighborhoods, allocates land for new Jewish neighborhoods, and leaves large quantities of interstitial land unplanned and vacant, the land resources of East Jerusalem have been completely redistributed. Staged spot zoning has made it possible for the State to achieve control of 87% of the land of East Jerusalem. In other words, during a period of only 28 years, it has been possible to effect a near complete turnaround in the mat¬ter of land control in East Jerusalem, from 1967 when the Palestinians owned approximately 90% of the land of East Jerusalem to 1995 when the Israeli government is in control of 87% of the land. The Palestinians may now live on and develop only 13.5% of the land in East Jerusalem.
2. How High a House?
Not only has the land itself been distributed for the benefit of one group over another, but also the benefits to be accrued from using the land have been distributed inequitably.
The Town Planning and Building Law that permits the designation of a variety of housing zones, ranging from low- to high-density zones (15%, 25% and 50% of the size of a building lot) is applied to Palestinian neigh¬borhoods. By contrast, building lots in Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem have enjoyed building rights of as much as 200%.
Similarly, building heights in Arab neighborhoods are confined to one or two stories, whereas building heights of as many as eight stories have been approved in the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.
Two illustrations: The municipality approved a TPS for a section of the Ras el-Amud neighborhood. It provides for Jewish housing in the heart of the neighborhood, with building rights of 112% in four-story buildings; the plan for Palestinian housing in Ras el-Amud, on land that "kisses" the Jewish neighborhood, will provide 50% building rights in two stories.
The new Levi neighborhood, planned on the lands of Jabal al¬-Mukabber, was granted building rights of 185% in three- to five-story buildings. On the adjacent Palestinian lands, which are exactly alike topo¬graphically, 25% in one-story is permitted.
Low-density housing zones in Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem prevent landowners from enjoying the economic benefits of using their land for the construction of housing for sale or rental. High-density construction in the Jewish neighborhoods reduces the cost of each housing unit and spreads the cost of infrastructure development among several families. This benefit is denied Palestinian landowners.
2. Greening the Land
Every parcel of land within the boundaries of a planned neighborhood is color-coded to indicate permissible land use. Land painted green on the planning map is designated for public open space or for the preservation of unhindered views of the landscape (shetah nof patuah). It may not be used for construction. The color green predominates in most of the Palestinian neighborhood plans. For example the TPS for Beit Hanina-¬Shu'fat assigns the color green to 3,000 dunums, or one-quarter of the land area within the spot-plan boundaries (known locally as the Blue Line.) The Government has recently decided to rescind this land use designation and to remove the land thus designated from the Blue Line, thus leaving it unzoned. In light of the history of unplanned Palestinian lands that have been expropriated for new Jewish neighborhoods, the residents of Beit Hanina are justifiably fearful of this change.
The liberal application of the color green might imply that the planners, in the best tradition of their profession, wish either to preserve existing planted areas and/ or "green" others. A look at the history and processes used till now to "green" East Jerusalem belies this implication.
None of the land designated for open space in Palestinian neighborhood plans is in fact planted areas; on the ground they are beige rather than green. Two large open spaces in East Jerusalem that were actually "greened" have been or soon will be destroyed and the land used to build new Jewish neighborhoods: Reches Shu'fat, where a forest on more than 1,220 dunums was cut down and the land used to build 2,000 apartments for ultra-Orthodox Jews; Har Homa, where another forest will be cut down to provide space for 7,500 apartments. Last May, Mayor Olmert announced his intention to build a new prison and police headquarters on land designated for open space in Beit Safafa, promising the people of Beit Safafa that the land-use designation "open space" on the remain¬ing land will be changed to housing so that they can use their "land for construction and thus be more ready to swallow the bitter pill of a prison in their neighborhood.
In fact, the color green is used on a spot-plan map not to "open" space but rather to "close" space. The purpose of applying green paint liberal¬ly to Palestinian neighborhood plans was publicly admitted by Mayor Teddy Kollek in October 1991 during a meeting of the Municipal Finance Committee where City Council members were asked to approve an appropriation for planning a new neighborhood on land designated for open space in Reches Shu'fat. When asked to defend the loss of 1,262 dunums of public open space, Mr. Kollek stated that the green paint was originally applied to the map of Reches Shu'fat in order to prevent Palestinian construction on the land until the time was ripe to build a new neighborhood for Jews. (This statement is recorded in the protocol of the meeting.)
A Dunum Here, a Dunum There
In the Arab lands of East Jerusalem no lot larger in size than one dunum, even though zoned for housing, may be built on before a reparcellation TPS, which divides the land into parcels no larger than one dunum in size, is pre¬pared and approved. This is true of parcels that are as little as four sq. meters larger than one dunum. This ruling does not apply to Jewish-owned land.
A master plan for Beit Hanina-Shu'fat was approved in 1993. It zones 850 dunums of land for residential use. The plan stipulates that no housing may be built on this land until a detailed plan has been prepared and approved. A detailed plan was duly submitted for government approval by the municipality. The plan stipulates that no housing may be built on this land until a third plan — a reparcellation scheme — is duly submitted and approved. This reduces the size of each parcel and concentrates the land thus obtained in a single location to create new parcels for public building construction. The second plan has not been approved as of this writing (April 1995) and the reparcellation scheme cannot be prepared by the landowners, many of whom no longer live in Israel. The landowners of Beit Hanina have been waiting for 28 years to obtain the right to use their land. The legal planning process itself has been used to deny them that right.
Preparing Society to Accept Planning Goals
The goal of this planned redistribution of resources has been stated rather clearly — to maintain the demographic balance between Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem. The citizenry is not fully aware of how this goal is to be accom¬plished. (I prefer to believe that one of the reasons that the majority has agreed to buy this political goal is because it has been shielded from know¬ing what a disastrous effect it has on the Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem.) In addition, the public might find it hard to give emotional support to a goal couched in technical terminology. And so the goal was reworked to include the concept of a united Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, populated in all its parts by a Jewish majority, with a weakened and isolated Arab minority. This restatement of the goal goes beyond the concept of main¬taining to the concept of changing the existing demographic balance.
Public acceptance of this goal was "firmed-up" through a long-term and consistent public relations campaign, using slogans, advertising, public events that dramatize the desired point of view, maintaining contact with organizations that have influential constituencies all over the world.
Simultaneously, the municipal government developed techniques for discouraging active opposition from those who are either harmed by the plan or who do not share in its benefits.
As a case study, planning East Jerusalem is an excellent example of skilled political work and should probably be studied by professional planners in cities all over the world who want to learn how to mobi¬lize the public and manipulate it in sup¬port of city-wide goals.
Even when the political has been accepted by the majority, it is helpful not to divulge or exe¬cute plans all at once. Secrecy can be used to manipulate the majority into "blind¬ly" going along with political planning. Take the story of land expropriation. Expropriation of the land for each of the "spots" that repre¬sents a new Jewish neighborhood is not done all at once, but over the years. The first expropriation of land - for five new Jewish neighborhoods - took place in 1968. Since then six more "spots" were expropriated at l0-year intervals (in 1970 and 1980). In this decade another major expropriation took place in 1991, additional ones in 1993 and 1995, and plans are "in the works" for four more. This staged process of land expropriation prevents the public from grasping the full impact of these actions. The public sees each expropriation as an isolated event that by itself has minimal impact.
Simultaneously, and also in stages, the Palestinian neighborhoods have been planned, one or two at a time, each neighborhood hoping that if it behaves itself, it too will turn into a spot on the map which will enable peo¬ple to use at least some of their land. The process has been going on since 1975 and today, in 1995, seven out of the 19 Palestinian neighborhoods still have no "spot zoning" and none of their land can be used.
Beit Hanina is a case in point. In 1980, when the government was about to expropriate 25% of Beit Hanina land for the purpose of build¬ing the new Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev, the neighborhood leaders were told about it in a special meeting called by the municipali¬ty. They were promised that in return for their acceptance of this pro¬posal, the municipality would prepare a TPS for the remaining lands of Beit Hanina that would enable landowners to build. The landowners accepted this tradeoff quietly: they had been granted the right to use their land in 1966 by an approved Jordanian TPS which had been frozen by the Israeli government in 1974, and they were anxious to regain the right to use their land. It turned out to be a bad deal for, until this very day, there isn't an approved TPS that grants landowners of Beit Hanina the right to build on their own land. Pisgat Ze'ev, on the other hand, is a going concern.
The people of Pisgat Ze'ev had to pay a price — albeit minimal — for their role in political planning. The government had decided to implement the plan for Pisgat Ze'ev as quickly as possible in order to establish a beach¬head along the northeast boundary of East Jerusalem, where none existed. Construction of housing units was speeded up and thousands of new resi¬dents - who themselves were uninformed consumers - came pouring into the neighborhood, only to find that the infrastructure had not been built. They pleaded with the municipality to stop issuing building licenses so that the population could remain stable until at least the road system was built. Their request was turned down for political reasons, just as their homes had been built for political reasons.
In order to keep the consensus on political goals from getting frayed, it is advisable to keep the populace from seeing how the city will look and function at the end of the planning process. (The inhabitants of West Jerusalem claim that the tool of secrecy is used there also, particularly in road planning, where only isolated bits and pieces of major new roads are shown to the public in stages. They have coined a phrase for this kind of political planning: the sliced salami method.) Therefore, an over¬all plan for the entire area of East Jerusalem does not exist. Neither a planning map nor a written statement is available to tell the curious inquirer how the sovereign planning authority intends to develop East Jerusalem. No document outlines the relationship between the various parts of the area, how they will be connected and for what purposes, what functions will be included and how they will relate to one another, what standards are to be used in residential, industrial, and public ser¬vice development, what existing problems will be solved and how. These standard city planning questions have never been answered. Have they been asked? Planning in isolated spots, as they become avail¬able, posits that integration will come later, after political goals have been achieved. But planning is an integrative function and that aspect of the city planning is totally lacking in East Jerusalem.
Has the Political Planning Process Been Successful?
Just as there has been a complete turnaround in land control in East Jerusalem since 1967, there has been a comparable demographic turn¬around. The Jewish population in East Jerusalem has risen from zero in 1967 to 160,000 today, and matches almost exactly the number of Palestinians now living in East Jerusalem. Demographic parity has been achieved for now, but with the construction of several new Jewish neigh¬borhoods and the expansion of existing ones, parity will be abandoned in favor of a revised demographic ratio, with Jews the majority population group in East Jerusalem.
However, even with all this expensive and frantic planning and build¬ing activity in East Jerusalem, the proportion of Palestinians in the popu¬lation of Jerusalem as a whole has remained approximately the same as it was in 1967, when East Jerusalem was conquered. They were then and are still today about 28% of the total population. It takes a lot of effort just to stand still.
Further, political goals do not remain static. They change over time and it behooves the government to investigate whether the goals of 1970 are still relevant in 1995. The people of Israel voted for peace in the 1992 elec¬tions when they established a center-left government that ran on a peace platform. The peace process, with all its setbacks and halts, is still going on. If the government manages to continue through the proposed inter¬mediate stage and reaches the final stage of a permanent solution, Jerusalem will be its crowning glory or its deathbed.
The planning function has a great deal to contribute to furthering the political goal of peace in an undivided city where there is an equitable division of resources and distribution of benefits. It is still not too late to prepare new plans based on the political goal of peace.