Israel wants to keep Jerusalem’s Arab population to 30 percent

JERUSALEM (AP) — Openly acknowledging a quota for the first time, Israeli government planners said Thursday that their goal is to keep the Palestinian population of disputed Jerusalem to no more than 30 percent.
The quota was described in a plan for Jerusalem’s development through 2020, submitted to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a special committee for Jerusalem.
Palestinian leaders denounced the guidelines.
Palestinians accuse Israel of trying to keep down the number of Arab residents in the city by restricting building permits, demolishing homes built without licenses, and revoking Arabs’ residency permits.
The future of Jerusalem is to be negotiated in talks on a permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. The talks have not yet begun, but, according to previous negotiations, are to conclude by May 1999.
The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. Israel says it will never relinquish sovereignty over the city, which was captured from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war.
According to city planners, 174,400 Palestinians and 417,000 Jews lived in the city at the end of 1995. The Palestinians made up 29.5 percent of the population, up from 25.8 percent in 1967.
Citing a higher birthrate among Palestinians and a growing number of Jews leaving Jerusalem, the planners said that by 2020, the Palestinians will make up 40 percent of the city’s population — unless the government intervenes.
City officials on Thursday defended the quota, saying Jerusalem is different from other cities because it is at the center of a conflict between two peoples.