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"End the occupation !" PAJU Vigil #920, September 28, 2018: Aziz Abu Sarah is a candidate for mayor of Jerusalem

Publication date : 2018-09-28

Aziz Abu Sarah a Palestinian in occupied East Jerusalem is breaking boundaries, suing Israel in hopes of running for the seat of mayor.

While Palestinians in East Jerusalem can vote and run in the municipal elections, they are prohibited from voting in Israel's national elections.

Abu Sarah, a resident of the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi Joz, tells Al Jazeera that there was a "very low" chance that he would win the case in the High Court.

Aziz Abu Sarah is a candidate for mayor of Jerusalem

Aziz Abu Sarah a Palestinian in occupied East Jerusalem is breaking boundaries, suing Israel in hopes of running for the seat of mayor. While Palestinians in East Jerusalem can vote and run in the municipal elections, they are prohibited from voting in Israel's national elections. Abu Sarah, a resident of the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi Joz, tells Al Jazeera that there was a "very low" chance that he would win the case in the High Court.

"This is clear taxation without representation," said Abu Sarah, who specialises in conflict resolution and also runs a tour company. Al-Quds Lana was the second Palestinian list to announce its intention to run in elections, following "Jerusalem for Jerusalemites", headed by Ramadan Dabash, a Palestinian citizen of Israel who is running a strictly "non-political" campaign.

Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem pay more than 300 million shekels (nearly $84m) to the municipality each year, Abu Sarah says, but only some 10 to 12 percent of the budget is invested back into the eastern side of the city. "Where does our money go? Our money goes to funding Israeli settlements," he said, pointing out that following the establishment of a new illegal Israeli settlement in Sheikh Jarrah, the connecting road to the East Jerusalem neighbourhood was repaved.

The approximately 350,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem have faced years of neglect and discrimination in the city, which has made life unbearable for many residents. According to Abu Sarah, one of the main issues for Palestinian residents in Jerusalem is Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes in the city. Palestinians have faced a housing crisis in East Jerusalem since the start of Israel's annexation of the territory, when the land zoned for Palestinian construction was reduced to about 13 percent, most of which was already built up.

76 percent of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem are below the poverty line. According to the United Nations, Israel has demolished at least 124 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem since the start of the year. If I lose, then we're calling bluff on Israel's claims of being a democracy.

Adapted from: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/aziz-abu-sarah-mayor-jerusalem-suing-israel-180915053358754.html

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