Issawiya is part of the land Israel occupied in 1967. During the period of Jordanian rule, lands were registered under their owners' names but after 1967 Israel stopped registration. This is where the problem started. The land we are living on isn't registered in anyone's name. Usually lands are registered by the Israel Land Administration but in Jerusalem and specifically in Issawiya, there are no such services [for Palestinians]. People know whose land is whose, but there are no legal records of land ownership. As an undeveloped Arab neighborhood, Issawaiya's lands haven't been dealt with. While that's true for many other places in East Jerusalem, here we're talking about Issawiya. The lands haven't been registered, merged and then properly divided and legally registered.
When the residents of Issawiya want to build on their land, they are forced to do so illegally because there is no registration of land ownership. When people want to get building permits, the authorities refuse, claiming their ownership over the land can't be proven. The local council and the Ministry of Interior have played a major role in the creation of this situation because they didn't register land ownership and didn't provide alternative building areas; therefore, people were forced to build randomly and independently because of their natural needs and natural population growth.
Legally, all the neighborhoods in Jerusalem are subject to municipal jurisdiction, and the municipal authorities are supposed to plan the city and pave its roads. Issawiya initiated a request that plans be drawn up because of the residents' needs. The municipality is supposed to take responsibility for planning. In the case of Issawiya, because this is land occupied in 1967, planning is done in a political context and becomes a political tool. The municipality hasn't initiated a plan for the neighborhood since 1990. Until then there had been plans that only dealt with the neighborhood's immediate needs, but all other aspects were put off. This created a reality of anarchic construction because there weren't any plans, and the only option was to build without a permit. Building without a permit is illegal but the municipality offers no alternatives: the population is growing, and so illegal construction takes place in public and privately owned areas.