After winning control of East Jerusalem from the Jordanians in the 1967 war, Israel annexed not only the Jordanian-defined area of the city but large swaths of the West Bank to its capital – a move never recognized by the international community.
The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future sovereign state, an arrangement widely recognized as a key pillar in any two-state solution.
But on Nov. 22, Israeli lawmakers passed a bill requiring a public referendum for any peace deal that cedes control of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians, if that deal is not approved by two-thirds of the parliament.
Uncertainty over the eventual fate of East Jerusalem has undoubtedly contributed to 43 years of neglect in the city's Arab neighborhoods, though low tax revenues factor in as well.
Sidewalks often do not exist, while street lighting is patchy, if provided at all. Sewage facilities and access to the water mains, taken for granted by Jewish families, are lacking. And a report by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel says that there is a shortage of 1,000 classrooms in East Jerusalem, despite Israel’s obligations to provide free education for everyone.
Palestinians account for 35 percent of Jerusalem’s total population yet benefit from just 8 to 10 percent of the municipality’s budget, according to Ir Amim, an Israeli nongovernmental organization founded by Mr. Seidemann.