Abu Dis
Abu Dis is a Palestinian
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

 town in the Jerusalem Governorate
Jerusalem Governorate
The Jerusalem Governorate is one of 16 Palestinian governorates situated in the central portion of the West Bank. Its claimed district capital is East Jerusalem, which is, however, under Israeli occupation and regarded by Israel as being part of its territory. The total land area of the...

, bordering Jerusalem. Abu Dis is due east of the Jerusalem municipal border. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics
Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics is the statistical organization under the umbrella of the Palestinian Cabinet of the Palestinian National Authority....

 (PCBS), the town had a population of approximately 12,100 in mid-year 2006.

Ottoman era

Abu Dis was one of the most populous villages in the Sanjak of Jerusalem during the 16th century, with a population of several hundred. Wheat and barley formed the bulk of cash crops, but were supplemented by grapes, olives, fruit trees, beans, and products from goats and bees. Descendants of Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

 lived in the village and were entrusted one-third of the grain revenue by the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. The adult males of the village paid a combined 6,250 akçe
thumb|250px|AkçeA silver coin, the akçe was the chief monetary unit of the Ottoman Empire. The word "akçe" is derived from the Greek "" , the name of a Byzantine silver or billon coin, current in the region that eventually became the Ottoman Empire. The akçe is hence often called asper in English...

 in annual taxes, a much more lower figure than other villages of the same size in the sanjak
Sanjaks were administrative divisions of the Ottoman Empire. Sanjak, and the variant spellings sandjak, sanjaq, and sinjaq, are English transliterations of the Turkish word sancak, meaning district, banner, or flag...

such as Beit Jala
Beit Jala
Beit Jala is an Arab Christian town in the Bethlehem Governorate of the West Bank. Beit Jala is located 10 km south of Jerusalem, on the western side of the Hebron road, opposite Bethlehem, at altitude...

, Ein Karim, and Deir Dibwan
Deir Dibwan
Deir Dibwan is a Palestinian town in the Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate in the central West Bank 7 kilometers east of Ramallah. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics the town had a population of approximately 5,252 inhabitants in mid-year 2006. There were 5,016 people from...

. This could indicate that Abu Dis was less prosperous, alternatively it could be because it had fewer non-Muslims. In October 1553, Shaykh Sa'd al-Din al-Sharafi al-Maliki was appointed as the administrator of the waqf
A waqf also spelled wakf formally known as wakf-alal-aulad is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, typically denoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust...

of the village, but was replaced in 1554 by Muhammad al-Fakhuri at the request of three prominent villagers who complained to the qadi
Qadi is a judge ruling in accordance with Islamic religious law appointed by the ruler of a Muslim country. Because Islam makes no distinction between religious and secular domains, qadis traditionally have jurisdiction over all legal matters involving Muslims...

of Jerusalem. He remained in this position until 1563.

In the late 19th century, the Sheikh of Abu Dis, Rasheed Erekat, promised to guarantee the safety of European tourists and pilgrims on the journey down to Jericho
Jericho ; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently...

 and the River Jordan.

British Mandate

Between 1922 and 1947, the population of Abu Dis increased by 110%.The town suffered extensive damage in an earthquake in 1927. All the homes were damaged and every cistern was cracked. Since Abu Dis depended on rain-water cisterns for its water supply, this caused great hardship. al-Eizariya
Al-Eizariya or al-Izzariya , sometimes referred to by its medieval name of Bethany, is a city in the West Bank. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, it is the second largest Palestinian city in the Jerusalem Governorate , with a population of 17,606 inhabitants.Located on the...

 (Bethany), half a mile away, suffered little damage.

Jordanian occupation

According to the UN General Assembly Resolution 194
UN General Assembly Resolution 194
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 was passed on December 11, 1948, near the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The resolution expresses appreciation for the efforts of UN Envoy Folke Bernadotte after his assassination by members of the Zionist ultra-nationalist Lehi , headed by Yitzhak...

 in 1948, Abu Dis was to be the most Eastern part of the corpus separatum Jerusalem area. However, like the rest of the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, it was annexed by Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 at the end of the British Mandate in 1948.

Israeli and PNA control

Abu Dis was captured by Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 in the 1967 Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

. Since the signing of the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
The Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, also known as the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, the Interim Agreement, Oslo 2, Oslo II, and Taba, was a key and complex agreement governing several aspects of the Palestinian territories of Gaza Strip and the West Bank.-History:It...

 (also known as Oslo 2) in 1995, Abu Dis has been part of Area B, which is under the civil jurisdiction of the Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian Authority is the administrative organization established to govern parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip...

 but subject to Israeli security control. Due to its geographic proximity to Jerusalem, as well as its position overlooking the Temple Mount
Temple Mount
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as , and in Arabic as the Haram Ash-Sharif , is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years...

 from a position near the Mount of Olives
Mount of Olives
The Mount of Olives is a mountain ridge in East Jerusalem with three peaks running from north to south. The highest, at-Tur, rises to 818 meters . It is named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes...

, as a substitute for East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem or Eastern Jerusalem refer to the parts of Jerusalem captured and annexed by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and then captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War...

, the Palestinians' claimed capital, Abu Dis has been mentioned by the Israeli government as a possible capital for a Palestinian state. Most of the Palestinian Authority's offices responsible for Jerusalem affairs are located in the town. The Palestinian Authority has built a Parliament Building to possibly house the Palestinian Legislative Council
Palestinian Legislative Council
The Palestinian Legislative Council, the legislature of the Palestinian Authority, is a unicameral body with 132 members, elected from 16 electoral districts in the West Bank and Gaza...


Schools and cultural institutions

Schools in Abu Dis include Amal Nursery, Abu Dis Elementary School, New Generation Primary School, Special Needs School, Abu Dis Girls Secondary School, Abu Dis Boys Secondary School, UNRWA Mixed School and Arab Institute. Abu Dis is also home to Al-Quds University
Al-Quds University
Al-Quds University is a Palestinian university with campuses in Jerusalem, Abu Dis, and al-Bireh. It was founded in 1984, but its official constitution was written in 1993 when Mohammed Nusseibeh, its first Chancellor and Chancellor of the College of Science and Technology, announced its...


West Bank barrier and land disputes

On January 13 2004, Israel began constructing the Israeli West Bank Barrier
Israeli West Bank barrier
The Israeli West Bank barrier is a separation barrier being constructed by the State of Israel along and within the West Bank. Upon completion, the barrier’s total length will be approximately...

. The route of the barrier between Abu Dis and Jerusalem (East of the Green line
Green Line (Israel)
Green Line refers to the demarcation lines set out in the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and its neighbours after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War...

) has made it difficult for Abu Dis's residents to access services in Jerusalem without a permit. The barrier will also detach over 6,000 dunums
A dunam or dönüm, dunum, donum, dynym, dulum was a non-SI unit of land area used in the Ottoman Empire and representing the amount of land that can be plowed in a day; its value varied from 900–2500 m²...

 of arable land from the city's total land area of 28,332 dunums. The United Nations humanitarian affairs office charged that the barrier would severely disrupt access to schools, hospitals, and work. Israel says that the route of the barrier is determined by security, not political considerations.

The Cliff Hotel owned by the Ayyad family of Abu Dis has been the focus of a legal dispute in the Israeli courts.. The owners sued to halt expropriation of the hotel, built in in the mid-1950s. The case involves the application of the Absentee Property Law, which allows the State of Israel to expropriate property within its territory when the owner lives in a country that Israel regards as an enemy. A High Court ruling in February 2010 was still unable to decide whether the law applies to property in East Jerusalem belonging to residents of the Palestinian territories.

Twin cities

Abu Dis is twinned with Camden
London Borough of Camden
In 1801, the civil parishes that form the modern borough were already developed and had a total population of 96,795. This continued to rise swiftly throughout the 19th century, as the district became built up; reaching 270,197 in the middle of the century...

, a borough of London in the United Kingdom. Since 2005, many Camden residents have visited Abu Dis and many Abu Dis residents have visited Camden. The visits concentrate on children, women and schools. The twinning activities are supported by the Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association (CADFA), a UK registered charity.

External links

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