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Abu Dis
Abu Dis is located in the Palestinian territories
Abu Dis
Arabic أبو ديس
Governorate Jerusalem
Government City
Also spelled Abu Dies (officially)
Coordinates 31°45′44.35″N 35°15′57.05″E / 31.7623194°N 35.2658472°E / 31.7623194; 35.2658472Coordinates: 31°45′44.35″N 35°15′57.05″E / 31.7623194°N 35.2658472°E / 31.7623194; 35.2658472
Population 12,100 (2006)

28,332  dunams (28.3 km²)

Head of Municipality Omar Qurei. Eng.Raji Erikat(vice mayor).

Abu Dis (Arabic: أبو ديس‎) is a Palestinian town in the Jerusalem Governorate, bordering Jerusalem. Abu Dis is due east of the Jerusalem municipal border. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), the town had a population of approximately 12,100 in mid-year 2006.[1]

Abu Dis has a boys' secondary school, a girls' secondary school and a primary school. Abu Dis is also home to the Al-Quds University.[2]




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 lived in the village and were entrusted one-third of the grain revenue by the Ottoman Empire.[3] The adult males of the village paid a combined 6,250 akce in annual taxes, a much more lower figure than other villages of the same size in the sanjak such as Beit Jala, Ein Karim, and Deir Dibwan. This signaled that Abu Dis was less prosperous.[4] In October 1553, Shaykh Sa'd al-Din al-Sharafi al-Maliki was appointed as the administrator of the waqf of the village, but was replaced in 1554 by Muhammad al-Fakhuri at the request of three prominent villagers who complained to the qadi of Jerusalem. He remained in this position until 1563.[5]

In the late 19th century, the Sheikh of Abu Dis, Rasheed Erekat, had taken the responsibility upon the European tourists and pilgrims to guarantee their security on the journey down to Jericho and the River Jordan.[6][7]

Twentieth century

In the 1927 earthquake every house in the village was damaged and every cistern cracked. Since Abu Dis depended on rain-water cisterns for its water supply this caused great difficulty. al-Eizariya (Bethany), half a mile away, suffered little damage.[8] According to the UN General Assembly Resolution 194 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, it was annexed by Jordan at the end of the British Mandate in 1948.

Israel occupied it in the 1967 Six-Day War, and since the 1995 signing of the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip it has been administered by the Palestinian National Authority. Abu Dis has been mentioned as a possible capital by the Israeli government for a future Palestinian State.[9] Most of the PNA's offices responsible for Jerusalem affairs are located in the town.[2]


On January 13 2004, Israel began constructing a security barrier through Jerusalem. Its location along the border between Abu Dis and Jerusalem has made it difficult for Abu Dis's residents to access Jerusalem's services without a permit.[2] The barrier will also detach over 6,000 dunums of arable land from the city's total land area of 28,332 dunums.[10] The United Nations humanitarian affairs office said that the wall will severely disrupt Palestinians access to schools, hospitals, and work. The Israeli government has persistently argued that the route of the 50 mile long barrier through and around East Jerusalem is determined by security, not political considerations."[11]


  1. ^ Projected Mid -Year Population for Jerusalem Governorate by Locality 2004- 2006 Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS)
  2. ^ a b c UNRWA Profile of Abu Dis United Nations Relief and Works Agency. March 2004.
  3. ^ Singer, 1992, p.64.
  4. ^ Singer, 1994, p.66.
  5. ^ Singer, 1992, p.69.
  6. ^ Rev James Smith, 'A Pilgrimage to Palestine - An account of a visit to Lower Palestine (1893-1894)'. Aberdeen, 1895. Page 102: 'it is no joke to go to Jericho.' (6 hours on hourseback). Page 103: 'Conspicuous at our head, and profoundly conscious of his own importance as well as his responsibility for our safe conduct, rode our escort—Aburahisha (i.e. the father of Ahisha, his daughter's name) of the family of Rasheed-Erekat, head of the Escots - a noble-looking, dark-visaged, affable, and courteous Sheikh of Abu Dis..'
  7. ^ Rev. James Kean, 'Among the Holy Places - A Pilgrimage through Palestine.' T. Fisher Unwin, London, Sixth edition 1908. (1st Edition 1891). Page 129: '(the) only way of accomplishing the journey to the Jordan ...(is) by paying the statutory tribute-money to the Sheikh of Abu Dis,'. 'This man has the privilege of extracting some sixteen shillings from each traveller who goes down to Jericho.' Page 130: "He will send a man, possibly his own son along with you... arrayed in gorgeous apparel, and armed with sword and revolver."
  8. ^ Bertha Spafford Vester, 'Our Jerusalem'. Printed in Lebanon, 1950. page 320.
  9. ^ Palestine denies Arafat's approval of Abu Dis as Palestinian capital Arabic News. 1998-05-07
  10. ^ Abu Dis: A Palestinian Town Tarred by the Israeli Wall Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem. 2004-02-04.
  11. ^ Where day to day living has had its heart cut out Guardian 2004-01-20.

Further reading

External links

Islamic Block in AlQuds Uninversity Abu-Deis


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