Basam Maswadeh, Kufr Aqab's village council head, is pictured trying to cross a road flooded with sewage and garbage on October 29, 2015. Heidi Levine for The National.
Basam Maswadeh, Kufr Aqab's village council head, is pictured trying to cross a road flooded with sewage and garbage on October 29, 2015. Heidi Levine for The National.

Netanyahu turns on East Jerusalem Palestinians behind the barrier

East Jerusalem // At first, Fathallah Nabulsi, a retired businessman, is stoic when asked how he will survive if his Jerusalem residency is cancelled and his Israeli identity card revoked.

“We Palestinians can live under any conditions. My question is can the Israelis live under all conditions?” he said. Then, after thinking about it, he added: “I need my identity card. I’m being treated in Israeli hospital. I have a heart condition.”

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is threatening to introduce measures that would mean an estimated 80-100,000 Palestinians living in six neighbourhoods of occupied East Jerusalem could no longer enter Israel or retain Israeli medical insurance and social security benefits.

The steps would be imposed on Palestinian neighbourhoods that lie within Jerusalem’s municipal borders but are beyond the separation barrier Israel erected in 2004.

Medical care is only one area in which these Palestinians depend on their access to the rest of Jerusalem for the basic staples of their existence: jobs, relatives, schools and Islam’s third holiest shrine, the Aqsa mosque, are all on the other side of the checkpoints they would no longer be allowed to cross.

“All of our life will turn topsy turvy and Netanyahu will not care,” says Fadia Abu Shalbak, 30, a resident of the Kufr Aqab neighbourhood whose parents live in a different part of East Jerusalem on the other side of the separation barrier, where her children also go to school. Her husband would no longer be able to access the Israeli wholesalers upon whom he depends for his business, she says.

Israel’s Channel Two television reported last week that Mr Netanyahu raised the idea of revoking residency during a security cabinet meeting two weeks earlier. This would be the most sweeping and drastic step taken against East Jerusalem Palestinians since Israel illegally annexed the area after the 1967 Middle East war, according to Yudith Oppenheimer who directs the Israeli NGO Ir Amim that supports equality in the city.

“He’s saying he wants Jerusalem only for the Jews. If he can revoke the residency of 100,000 Palestinians, why not even more? Even if he doesn’t mean to implement this it’s so dangerous to daily life in Jerusalem. He’s creating more and more despair and distrust. You are pushing people to a dead end situation, people who already live in despair and poverty.”

Channel Two quoted Mr Netanyahu as saying: “We need to examine the possibility of cancelling their residency. There needs to be a discussion about it.”

Officials in the prime minister’s office then confirmed to the Haaretz newspaper that Mr Netanyahu had raised the matter of cancelling residencies during the security cabinet meeting. The next day he also referred to it during remarks at the Knesset’s foreign affairs and defence committee, according to the Times of Israel website.

An Israeli official denied that Mr Netanyahu had made mention of revoking residencies. But when pressed by The National, the official added that during the security cabinet meeting, the premier had indeed said that it was a problem that residents of the neighbourhoods beyond the separation barrier could travel freely inside of Israel using their Israeli identity cards. The official confirmed that Mr Netanyahu had decided a full deliberation should be held on the status of the neighbourhoods beyond the separation barrier. That has yet to be done.

The threat to revoke the residencies comes after Israel’s hardline government has already introduced a series of measures amid a wave of violence that has killed 69 Palestinians and 11 Israelis since mid-September, according to Associated Press.

Palestinians say the setting up of roadblocks and checkpoints in East Jerusalem and the demolishing of Palestinian homes are a form of collective punishment.

Israel claims 43 of the Palestinians killed were carrying out attacks, mostly with knives, on Israeli security forces or citizens. Most of the attacks in Jerusalem have not been carried out by residents of the six neighbourhoods targeted by Mr Netanyahu’s plans.

“The situation is that there is no effective law and order, there is a vacuum and extremist and criminal elements are exploiting this,” said the Israeli official. “It’s unsustainable.”

But that unsustainability is a result of years of neglect by Israel, which levies municipal taxes on residents but fails to provide them with the most basic services, including sanitation, education, planning – all of which are provided to Jewish neighbourhoods, Ir Amim and Palestinians say. In the Ras Khamis neighbourhood, with a population of more than 30,000, there is only one municipal school, established in a building that previously functioned as a goat pen and which until recently had a pollution-emitting factory alongside it, Ir Amim said.

The sense that the residents of the neighbourhoods beyond the barrier literally do not count in Israeli eyes is brought home by the inability of municipality officials to respond to queries on how many Palestinians live there. Ir Amim’s estimate is 80-100,000, or at least ten per cent of Jerusalem’s total population.

Driving through the Kufr Aqab neighbourhood, there is raw sewage and rubbish in the streets, jarring potholes, broken traffic lights and high rise buildings erected without any standards or inspection. A heavy rain flooded the streets. The Jerusalem municipality says it cannot provide services because it is unsafe for its personnel to travel there.

A small part of Kufr Aqab falls under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority (PA) ministry of local government. Basam Maswadeh, who volunteers for the PA as Kufr Aqab’s village council head, said he tries to also provide some help to the parts of the neighbourhood for which Israel is supposed to be responsible. But he said he has scant resources and no authority to do this.

“How can you live here with this rubbish and lakes in the streets?,” asked Mr Maswadeh, who himself lives in the Israeli-administered part of Kufr Aqab and works as a building contractor inside Israel. “Every morning you open the window and smell fresh sewage.”

High rise buildings have sprung up all around because of a housing shortage stemming from Israeli curbs on Palestinian building in the areas inside the security barrier. Pointing to them, Mr Maswadeh said: “I don’t know if these are strong enough. They may collapse.”

“If the Israelis take away people’s identity cards, what will they do without work?” he asks. “It will only increase crime and drugs. It will turn people into criminals. How will they live? They will have to steal because they want to live.”

Sameeh Abu Rmeileh, chief administrator of the Dar Al Maarefa school in Kufr Aqab, added: “The Jerusalem municipality has deserted us to refugee camp conditions and now Netanyahu wants to say ‘you are no longer Jerusalemites’ and extract us from our city. How much uglier can this get?’’

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 


Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Where to donate in the UAE

The Emirates Charity Portal

You can donate to several registered charities through a “donation catalogue”. The use of the donation is quite specific, such as buying a fan for a poor family in Niger for Dh130.

The General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments

The site has an e-donation service accepting debit card, credit card or e-Dirham, an electronic payment tool developed by the Ministry of Finance and First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Al Noor Special Needs Centre

You can donate online or order Smiles n’ Stuff products handcrafted by Al Noor students. The centre publishes a wish list of extras needed, starting at Dh500.

Beit Al Khair Society

Beit Al Khair Society has the motto “From – and to – the UAE,” with donations going towards the neediest in the country. Its website has a list of physical donation sites, but people can also contribute money by SMS, bank transfer and through the hotline 800-22554.

Dar Al Ber Society

Dar Al Ber Society, which has charity projects in 39 countries, accept cash payments, money transfers or SMS donations. Its donation hotline is 800-79.

Dubai Cares

Dubai Cares provides several options for individuals and companies to donate, including online, through banks, at retail outlets, via phone and by purchasing Dubai Cares branded merchandise. It is currently running a campaign called Bookings 2030, which allows people to help change the future of six underprivileged children and young people.

Emirates Airline Foundation

Those who travel on Emirates have undoubtedly seen the little donation envelopes in the seat pockets. But the foundation also accepts donations online and in the form of Skywards Miles. Donated miles are used to sponsor travel for doctors, surgeons, engineers and other professionals volunteering on humanitarian missions around the world.

Emirates Red Crescent

On the Emirates Red Crescent website you can choose between 35 different purposes for your donation, such as providing food for fasters, supporting debtors and contributing to a refugee women fund. It also has a list of bank accounts for each donation type.

Gulf for Good

Gulf for Good raises funds for partner charity projects through challenges, like climbing Kilimanjaro and cycling through Thailand. This year’s projects are in partnership with Street Child Nepal, Larchfield Kids, the Foundation for African Empowerment and SOS Children's Villages. Since 2001, the organisation has raised more than $3.5 million (Dh12.8m) in support of over 50 children’s charities.

Noor Dubai Foundation

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the Noor Dubai Foundation a decade ago with the aim of eliminating all forms of preventable blindness globally. You can donate Dh50 to support mobile eye camps by texting the word “Noor” to 4565 (Etisalat) or 4849 (du).

Green ambitions
  • Trees: 1,500 to be planted, replacing 300 felled ones, with veteran oaks protected
  • Lake: Brown's centrepiece to be cleaned of silt that makes it as shallow as 2.5cm
  • Biodiversity: Bat cave to be added and habitats designed for kingfishers and little grebes
  • Flood risk: Longer grass, deeper lake, restored ponds and absorbent paths all meant to siphon off water 
Key developments

All times UTC+4

The years Ramadan fell in May






Director: Bradley Cooper

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Carey Mulligan, Maya Hawke

Rating: 3/5


Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

Ammar 808:
Maghreb United

Sofyann Ben Youssef

Emergency phone numbers in the UAE

Estijaba – 8001717 –  number to call to request coronavirus testing

Ministry of Health and Prevention – 80011111

Dubai Health Authority – 800342 – The number to book a free video or voice consultation with a doctor or connect to a local health centre

Emirates airline – 600555555

Etihad Airways – 600555666

Ambulance – 998

Knowledge and Human Development Authority – 8005432 ext. 4 for Covid-19 queries


Engine: Twin-turbocharged 4-litre V8
Power: 625 bhp
Torque: 630Nm
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh974,011


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5


Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded

Nepotism is the name of the game

Salman Khan’s father, Salim Khan, is one of Bollywood’s most legendary screenwriters. Through his partnership with co-writer Javed Akhtar, Salim is credited with having paved the path for the Indian film industry’s blockbuster format in the 1970s. Something his son now rules the roost of. More importantly, the Salim-Javed duo also created the persona of the “angry young man” for Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan in the 1970s, reflecting the angst of the average Indian. In choosing to be the ordinary man’s “hero” as opposed to a thespian in new Bollywood, Salman Khan remains tightly linked to his father’s oeuvre. Thanks dad. 


Favourite holiday destination: Thailand. I go every year and I’m obsessed with the fitness camps there.

Favourite book: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It’s an amazing story about barefoot running.

Favourite film: A League of their Own. I used to love watching it in my granny’s house when I was seven.

Personal motto: Believe it and you can achieve it.

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home. 


Tuesday (UAE kick-off times)

Leicester City v Brighton (9pm)

Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United (11.15pm)


Manchester United v Sheffield United (9pm)

Newcastle United v Aston Villa (9pm)

Norwich City v Everton (9pm)

Wolves v Bournemouth (9pm)

Liverpool v Crystal Palace (11.15pm)


Burnley v Watford (9pm)

Southampton v Arsenal (9pm)

Chelsea v Manchester City (11.15pm)


Engine: 2-litre direct injection turbo
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Power: 261hp
Torque: 400Nm
Price: From Dh134,999

Fight card


Nouredine Samir (UAE) v Sheroz Kholmirzav (UZB); Lucas Porst (SWE) v Ellis Barboza (GBR); Mouhmad Amine Alharar (MAR) v Mohammed Mardi (UAE); Ibrahim Bilal (UAE) v Spyro Besiri (GRE); Aslamjan Ortikov (UZB) v Joshua Ridgwell (GBR)

Main card:

Carlos Prates (BRA) v Dmitry Valent (BLR); Bobirjon Tagiev (UZB) v Valentin Thibaut (FRA); Arthur Meyer (FRA) v Hicham Moujtahid (BEL); Ines Es Salehy (BEL) v Myriame Djedidi (FRA); Craig Coakley (IRE) v Deniz Demirkapu (TUR); Artem Avanesov (ARM) v Badreddine Attif (MAR); Abdulvosid Buranov (RUS) v Akram Hamidi (FRA)

Title card:

Intercontinental Lightweight: Ilyass Habibali (UAE) v Angel Marquez (ESP)

Intercontinental Middleweight: Amine El Moatassime (UAE) v Francesco Iadanza (ITA)

Asian Featherweight: Zakaria El Jamari (UAE) v Phillip Delarmino (PHI)

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE



Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

About Proto21

Date started: May 2018
Founder: Pir Arkam
Based: Dubai
Sector: Additive manufacturing (aka, 3D printing)
Staff: 18
Funding: Invested, supported and partnered by Joseph Group