Ramallah, 5 June 2015 – UN-Habitat has launched a new report “Right to Develop: Planning Palestinian Communities in East Jerusalem,” which analyzes different approaches to planning adopted by Palestinian communities who face continued restrictions on their planning rights in East Jerusalem, and who have little to no say in official city planning.

In particular, the report highlights the creative and often novel ways in which these communities plan for their future despite these restrictions. The report focuses on drawing lessons learned as well as identifying best practices to better guide development efforts aimed at assisting these communities to develop and advocate their plans. Some of the guidelines identified in the report aimed at helping these communities better defend their planning and building rights.

“The different planning strategies Palestinian communities living in East Jerusalem have used in an effort to circumvent the many restrictions the Israeli occupation imposes on them highlight the resilience of these communities, and at the same time translate ideas about the right to the city into concrete action,” said Ahmad El Atrash, the lead author of the report.

At the opening session, the Head of the EU Cooperation in West Bank and Gaza, Sergio Piccolo stressed on the importance of planning as a mechanism to address the urban challenges faced by Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem. Moreover, he highlighted the accomplishments of “The Urban Planning Support Programme for Palestinian Communities in East Jerusalem” in addressing these challenges. The programme was implemented by UN-Habitat and its local partners with funding by the European Union.

Furthermore, the Advisor on Jerusalem Portfolio at the President’s Office, Ahmad Rwaidy, added that this programme comes under the umbrella of the Strategic Multi-Sector Development Plan for East Jerusalem which was produced by the President’s Office and other local institutions with funding by the European Union.

“This report not only starts to lay the foundation for a more effective planning scheme in East Jerusalem, one more sensitive to the myriad planning challenges that Palestinians face,” said Joe Hooper, Head of UN-Habitat’s Palestine office. “It also draws some valuable lessons for planners working in similarly challenging contexts, and should be the starting point for a more robust conversation over how best to support planning in such contexts.”