Taking the Garbage to East Jerusalem

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat recently brought before the Jerusalem City council, for its approval, a contract with a company that will treat Jerusalem’s waste and refuse, and sort it for purposes of recycling prior to disposal at a new site.  This has become necessary as an interim step both because the current site (in E-1, near Maale Adumim and Abu Dis, as well as the site inhabited by the embattled Jahalin Bedouin) has become an ecological hazard, and because, as Barkat noted in his communication to the City Council, the Jerusalem Municipality cannot legally bury its waste over the Green Line (although it has done so for years with impunity).

That is the good news. The bad news is that the new site designated by the City Council is in Atarot, in East Jerusalem, beyond the Green Line (but within the area annexed by Israel).

So in effect the city is shutting down one dump site because it is across the Green Line, in order to relocate the dump to another site (albeit where the waste will “only” be treated and sorted, not dumped), which is also across the Green Line. Or to look more closely – and perhaps cynically – at the details, the goal here is to shut down a site that has become too-close-for-comfort to Maale Adumim (due to the expansion of that settlement) and transfer it to a site adjacent to Beit Hanina/Kafr Aqab. So a settlement gets rid of an ecological hazard and eyesore, and, in a classic case of NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) two Palestinian neighborhoods – neighborhoods in which there is at best infrequent municipal trash collection – get stuck with a new sorting/treatment center to deal with the trash collected from West Jerusalem.