al-Isawiya appeared in the 1596 Ottoman tax registers as Isawiyya, in the Nahiya of Quds of the Liwa of Quds. It had a population of 35 households and 3 bachelors, all Muslim. Taxes were paid for wheat, barley, olive trees, vineyards, fruit trees, goats and beehives.
It was described in 1838 as "a small village".
In The Survey of Western Palestine (1883), El Aisawiyeh was described as a "small village on the eastern slope of the chain of Olivet, with a spring to the south and a few olives round it."
In the 1922 census of Palestine, conducted by the British Mandate authorities, 'Isawiyeh had a population of 333, all Muslims, increasing in the 1931 census to a population of 558, 7 Christians and the rest Muslim, occupying 117 houses.
In 1945 the population of Isawiya was 730, all Arabs, who owned 10,108 dunams of land while 235 dunams had Jewish owners, according to an official land and population survey. 3,291 dunams were used for cereals, while 47 dunams were built-up (urban) land.
The Mount Scopus Agreement signed on July 7, 1948 regulated the demilitarised zone and authorized the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization to settle disputes between Israel and Jordan. One area of conflict involved two Jewish-owned plots in Issawiya, known as Gan Shlomit or Salomons Garden, which were purchased by V.F. Salomons in 1934 and sold to the Gan Shlomit Company, Ltd. in 1937.
Issawiya is located at the foot of French Hill, northwest of the road to Ma'aleh Adumim. Under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem Municipality, its citizens are considered permanent residents of the city, entitled to live and work in Israel without special permits. As permanent residents, they are also entitled to social benefits provided by Bituah Leumi (Israeli National Insurance Institute) and Israeli health insurance.
Under Jordanian rule, land in Issawiya was registered under the owner's name, but registration stopped in 1967. Residents who apply for building permits are frequently turned down because ownership cannot be proven. Another problem is that land may belong to as many as ten clans. The land would need to be unified and then divided up between all residents who claim ownership.
According to the local muktar, 800 students in al-Issawiya lacks classrooms. This has caused strikes among the students and protests among community leaders and parents. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel the difference in schooling-standard between East and West Jerusalem is "staggering". A girls' school in al-Issawiya is one of five elementary schools in the Jerusalem area that teach philosophy to third-graders as part of a program operating in 70 countries.[dead link] A project sponsored by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem coordinates educational work with youth in Issawiya. Palestinian-Israeli students at the university undergo a training seminar that provides them with the requisite teaching and facilitation skills.
In 2005, the Peres Center for Peace inaugurated a synthetic turf soccer field in Issawiya as part of the Twinned Peace Soccer School project. The soccer field was a priority in 1993 during Teddy Kollek's election year and had been allocated funding at the time, but was finally built with South Korean funding.
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- Meaning "The place or sect of Jesus", according to Palmer, 1881, p. 283
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- 'Isawiya Town (Fact Sheet), ARIJ
- 'Isawiya Town Profile, ARIJ
- 'Isawiya areal photo, ARIJ
- The new Jerusalem Master Plan grabs 250 dunums of 'Issawiya village lands 01, December, 2004, ARIJ
- Israel expands an Army Military Base East of Al 'Isawiya village 05, July, 2007, ARIJ
- Transferring 660 Dunums into a "Jewish National Park" in Al 'Isawiya town 04, March, 2010, ARIJ
- More "Biblical Parks"… the confiscation of Al 'Isawiya and At Tur lands 07, December, 2011, ARIJ