A former Israeli cabinet minister has called for the construction of a new separation wall around Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem.
Haim Ramon, who left the Knesset in 2009, claimed the barrier was necessary for security reasons after a wave of violence that has left around 30 Israelis and 170 Palestinians dead in the past five months.
He is a member of the “Save Jewish Jerusalem” movement, which conducted a tour of the proposed division in East Jerusalem on Wednesday with several former senior defence officials and politicians.
The proposal, which is not being considered by the Israeli government, would reportedly result in around 200,000 Palestinians being fenced off from East Jerusalem and denied residence status in Israel.
They would hypothetically have to apply for work permits to work in the city, although Palestinians living in certain areas of the Old City and its surrounds would be allowed to remain.
Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported that although the plan’s implementation is highly unlikely, it would change the demographics of Jerusalem to make around 80 per cent of residents Jewish, compared to the current 60 per cent.
“A substantial per cent of the terror attacks in the current escalation came from East Jerusalem,“ Mr Ramon said, describing the controversial plan as a “lesser evil” comparable to the West Bank barrier and Gaza fence.
Security checkpoints have been sporadically introduced in the city but any move by the Israeli government to permanently close off Palestinian districts is considered highly unlikely in the face of domestic and international opposition.
Saeb Erekat, the Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said the plan would separate people from their families, schools, jobs and religious sites, as well as further damaging fragile hopes of a two-state solution.
Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, which is considered annexed Palestinian territory by the United Nations, as their capital, while a 1980 Israeli law declared a “complete and united” Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict intensifies
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict intensifies
Medics evacuate a wounded man from the scene of an attack in Jerusalem. A Palestinian rammed a vehicle into a bus stop then got out and started stabbing people before he was shot dead
Israeli ZAKA emergency response members carry the body of an Israeli at the scene of a shooting attack in Jerusalem. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks that escalated a month long wave of violence
Palestinians throw molotov cocktail during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank. Recent days have seen a series of stabbing attacks in Israel and the West Bank that have wounded several Israelis
Women cry during the funeral of Palestinian teenager Ahmad Sharaka, 13, who was shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes at a checkpoint near Ramallah, at the family house in the Palestinian West Bank refugee camp of Jalazoun, Ramallah
A wounded Palestinian boy and his father hold hands at a hospital after their house was brought down by an Israeli air strike in Gaza
Palestinians look on after a protester is shot by Israelis soldiers during clashes at the Howara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus
A lawyer wearing his official robes kicks a tear gas canister back toward Israeli soldiers during a demonstration by scores of Palestinian lawyers called for by the Palestinian Bar Association in solidarity with protesters at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, near Ramallah, West Bank
Undercover Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian in Ramallah
Palestinian youth burn tyres during clashes with Israeli soldiers close to the Jewish settlement of Bet El, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, after Israel barred Palestinians from Jerusalem's Old City as tensions mounted following attacks that killed two Israelis and wounded a child
Tensions remain high in Israel and the West Bank following one of the bloodiest days seen in months on Tuesday, when three attacks saw an American student killed and 13 others injured.
Israeli authorities have accused Palestinian politicians of inciting the wave of attacks, which started in October, while Palestinians have claimed they are a result of long-running religious and territorial disputes.
Some critics have also accused Israeli security forces of using excessive force responding to almost daily stabbings, shootings and car rammings.
Most of the around 170 Palestinians killed by security forces were said to be carrying out or attempting attacks at the time, although others died in clashes and protests, and the circumstances of many deaths have been disputed.
Additional reporting by AP