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al-Ram - الرامّ : The Wall is slowly strangling the economic and social fabric of Al Ram.

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Posted by RamRum on June 9, 2008
Maisa Abu Ghazaleh / special / PNN - Political and national figures have confirmed that the situation in Al Ram is deteriorating both socially and economically. It was once part of northern East Jerusalem until the Wall was imposed literally down the center of the street.

But at the same time, this town which is now essentially ؟nowhere؟ is still subjected to high taxes and businesses are not making it. It is essentially a maze with the Wall butting up against businesses, so prison-like it does not even feel like one that is ؟open air.؟

Chairman of the Al Ram Local Council, Sarhan Al Slaimeh, explained the economic and social conditions befalling the town now. ؟The situation for Al Ram businesses is not enviable now. We are witnessing a large exodus of home and shop owners, while the remainders are threatened with closures. However, some are staying put, at least for the time being, because there is no alternative for them.؟

Al Slaimeh added, ؟The main street of the town of Al Ram, which represents the backbone of the life in the town, is now almost devoid of life. Al Ram became a ghost town, the trade movement in Al Ram is very sad. The economic situation has deteriorated by 75 percent. All types of trade and commerce are affected, including banks, shops, bus companies, and businesses.؟

He stressed that all of this is as a result of the Wall. In order to stop further deterioration the Local Council Chair is has asked that the Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, help the town. ؟He is not interested in our trading status, therefore we ask the government to provide the requirements needed for people to remain steadfast and make creative incentives for survival: factors that encourage people to stay. We are not asking for magic, but for some practical help.؟

Al Slaimeh added, ؟We have witnessed Israeli tax raids throughout the town of Al Ram, raids by Israeli tax officials.؟ Because Al Ram is in Jerusalem, even though that city is no longer reachable with the Wall blocking it, the residents of Al Ram still hold blue ID cards. Blue ID is for Jerusalem residents. So the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municipality is still taking taxes from them even though they have no access to the customers or services of the city.

He noted that there is only a health clinic in town, and now needs and a proper medical center and hospital as Jerusalem is no longer accessible. He continued to say that there is a shortage of classrooms for girls for the same reason.

؟It we want to continue to keep some contiguity, in spite of the Wall, and the Palestinian identity of Jerusalem as capital, the financial and social integrity of Al Ram and Al Eizariya must be maintained; and this exodus must be stopped.؟
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The Adviser to the Prime Minister, Hatem Abdel Kader, said that concerning the role of the Palestinian Authority, ؟there is no corruption and waste of money as before, so the Office will lead the government to follow up the issue of taxes imposed on the inhabitants of the town of Al Ram and work to revitalize services to the population, and provide them with security and coordination to visit the Palestinian Minister of Economy Kamal Hassouna.؟ Traders and businesses owners are asking for a large influx of cash and development in order to save the town.

Jerusalem official Jamil Nasser said that all sectors in the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce are suffering: merchants and citizens. The Wall has turned the thriving town of Al Ram into a shadow of its former self. ؟Due to the blockade and establishment of the Wall, all sectors have been impacted.؟ Nasser called for cooperation and collaboration between citizens, traders and the Chamber of Commerce to promote trade and bolster the economic situation in the town.

For his part, explained the Chairman of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Ahmed Hashim Zughayyar, that the suffering among the population of Al Ram is similar to that of Bir Nabala and Al-Eizariya, and ؟is a conspiracy in all Palestinian towns to displace the population.؟

Director of the Arab Bank branch in Al Ram, Hashim Badr, said, "It is clear to us that due to the construction of the Wall, by looking at our numbers and simple traffic checks, that it has become difficult for people to reach the bank. Access from the West Bank is difficult and impossible from Jerusalem, with 12 Jerusalem towns isolated on the West Bank side.




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