Beit Safafa (Arabic: بيت صفافا, Hebrew: בית צפפה; lit. "House of the summer-houses or narrow benches") is an Arab neighborhood in southern Jerusalem. Beit Safafa covers an area of 1,577 dunams. Since 1949, the neighborhood has been divided by the Green Line. Until 1967, the southern two-thirds were under Jordanian rule and the northern third under Israeli rule. After the Six-Day War, the two sides were reunited. In 2010, Beit Safafa had a population of 5,463.
The village was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1517 with all of Palestine, and in 1596 it appeared in the tax registers as being in the Nahiya of Quds of the Liwa of Quds. It had a population of 41 Muslim households and paid taxes on wheat, barley, olives, grapes or fruit trees, and goats or beehives. French explorer Victor Guérin visited the village in 1863, and described it as a village with some thirty houses, some solidly built and very old. In the 1883 "Survey of Western Palestine", the village was described as "a small village in flat open ground, with a well to the north".
In the wake of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the village was divided in two. The southern part was in the Jordanian-occupied West Bank, while the northern part, originally in no man's land, was transferred to Israel with the signing of 1949 armistice agreement, and was later annexed to Jerusalem by Israel.
During the period when the neighborhood was divided, a two-foot high barbed wire fence was erected down the middle of the main street with Arab Legionnaires and Israeli soldiers guarding on each side.
After the war, a section of the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway remained under Jordanian control. Following the Rhodes armistice agreement, it was agreed that Jordan would transfer control of this section of the track to Israel, in order to enable Israel Railways to restart rail service to Jerusalem. As a result, the area south of the railway line was part of the Jordanian-controlled West Bank and the railway line itself and the area to the north, was part of Israeli-controlled Jerusalem. Service on the line resumed on August 7, 1949.
In 1967, after Israel's victory in the Six-Day War, the fence was taken down and the neighborhood was reunited. Residents of southern Beit Safafa hold Jerusalem ID cards, while residents of the northern part hold Israeli citizenship. Also following the 1967 war, Palestinian Christians with Israeli citizenship from Nazareth, Jaffa, and Jerusalem moved to Beit Safafa, expanding the small community, and several Jewish families moved in as well.
Beit Safafa has three schools: Beit Safafa Elementary School, Beit Safafa High School and al-Salam School, a school for special needs children. Beit Safafa schools follow both the Israeli Bagrut curriculum and the Palestinian Tawjihi curriculum. In 1997, the Hand in Hand School for Bilingual Education was founded in Beit Safafa. The school, supported by the Israeli Ministry of Education and the Jerusalem Municipality, offers a bilingual curriculum in Hebrew and Arabic, with joint classes for Jews and Arabs. In 2012, 530 Arab and Jewish children were enrolled in the school.
In 2012, Bakehila, an organization founded by Erel Margalit of Jerusalem Venture Partners to aid children from underprivileged neighborhoods, opened an educational enrichment center in Beit Safafa.
Urban development plans
In 2012, an urban development plan approved by the Jerusalem Municipality announced a project to build four new roads in Beit Safafa.
In early 2013, the Jerusalem Municipality began construction of an eight-lane highway that will bisect Beit Safafa. According to Israeli author David Grossman writing in Haaretz, the road plan was never subject to public scrutiny, nor was any map provided to detail on the route. This was then expanded into 12 lanes at the two interchanges with the village borders, two kilometres of the highway will pass through the heart of the village, crossing its residential area. though access to it is denied from the village itself. The families of the village will be cut off from each other, the village absorbed into Jerusalem, and residential expansion constricted. Villagers said that the highway plans were illegal and outdated, and construction had commenced without warning. Despite petitioning local courts and the Israeli Supreme Court, the residents failed to halt the project.Naomi Tzur, deputy mayor of Jerusalem and holder of the urban planning portfolio, said that "the residents are taking advantage of the political situation to turn a local concern into an international story. When the residents of Beit Hakerem conducted their fight over their part of Begin Highway, the international media wasn’t interested. This is simply a residents’ fight against its municipality for better compensations and better infrastructure, and it’s a perfectly justifiable fight and part of democracy."  Grossman argues that the purpose of the road is to bisect the West Bank and cut the Palestinians of East Jerusalem further off from the West Bank.
Several winepresses have been found at Beit Safafa, which have been dated back to the Iron Age. In a salvage dig in Beit Safafa, archaeologists discovered fifty Second Temple era graves, of which 41 were excavated.
- Palmer, 1881, p. 287
- Upending the Traditional Arab Countryside Home
- Bus bombing fails to undermine Jewish-Arab ties in Beit Safafa
- Amir Cheshin, Bill Hutman, and Avi Melamed (1999). Separate and Unequal: the Inside Story of Israeli Rule in East Jerusalem. Harvard University Press. p. 136.
- Beit Safafa Housing Project 2010
- Wolf-Dieter Hütteroth and Kamal Abdulfattah (1977). Historical Geography of Palestine, Transjordan and Southern Syria in the Late 16th Century. Erlanger Geographische Arbeiten, Sonderband 5. Erlangen, Germany: Vorstand der Fränkischen Geographischen Gesellschaft. p. 116.
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- Conder and Kitchener, 1883, vol. 3, p. 20
- J. B. Barron, ed. (1923). Palestine: Report and General Abstracts of the Census of 1922. Government of Palestine. Table VII.
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- Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in S. Hadawi, Village Statistics, 1945. PLO Research Center, 1970, p56. 
- Eyāl Benveniśtî, Chaim Gans, Sārī Ḥanafī (2007). Israel and the Palestinian refugees, Volume 189 of Beiträge zum ausländischen öffentlichen Recht und Völkerrecht (illustrated ed.). Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-68160-1.
- Yasir Suleiman. A war of words: language and conflict in the Middle East. Cambridge University Press. p. 177.
- Foreign News: Wedding at Beit Safafa
- Wallach, Yair, "Nostalgia and Promise in Jerusalem's Derelict Ottoman Railway Station", The Jerusalem Quarterly, Summer 2009 (38), retrieved 2009-11-06
- "Fence is gone, there is still partition". Jordan Times.
- Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel
- Beit Safafa education center dedicated
- Road projects in E. J'lem get 0.5b
- David Grossman, 'The highway, the village and the road not taken,' at Haaretz 26 June, 2013.
- Beit Safafa residents demonstrate against highway
- Greenberg and Cinnamon, Tel Aviv, vol 33, 2006, "Stamped and incised Jars"; citing Feig, N. 2003. "Excavations at Beit Safafa: Iron Age II and Byzantine Agricultural Installations South of Jerusalem. Atiqot 44: 191-238.
- "Qumran type" graves in Jerusalem: Evidence of an Essene Community?
- A jump start for Palestinian architecture – Haaretz – Israel News
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- Barzel, Vered (2007): Jerusalem, Beit Safafa (West) Final Report Hadashot Arkheologiyot – Excavations and Surveys in Israel, No. 119.
- Conder, Claude Reignier; Kitchener, H. H. (1883). The Survey of Western Palestine: Memoirs of the Topography, Orography, Hydrography, and Archaeology 3. London: Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
- Eirikh-Rose, Anna and Danit Levi (2012): Jerusalem, Beit Safafa Final Report Hadashot Arkheologiyot – Excavations and Surveys in Israel, No. 124.
- Guérin, Victor (1869). Description Géographique Historique et Archéologique de la Palestine. Vol 1; Judee, pt. 2.
- Hadawi, Sami (1970), Village Statistics of 1945: A Classification of Land and Area ownership in Palestine, Palestine Liberation Organization Research Center
- Hütteroth, Wolf-Dieter; Abdulfattah, Kamal (1977). Historical Geography of Palestine, Transjordan and Southern Syria in the Late 16th Century. Erlanger Geographische Arbeiten, Sonderband 5. Erlangen, Germany: Vorstand der Fränkischen Geographischen Gesellschaft.
- E. Mills, ed. (1932). Census of Palestine 1931. Population of Villages, Towns and Administrative Areas. Jerusalem: Government of Palestine.
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- Zilberbod, Irina (2007): Jerusalem, Beit Safafa Final Report Hadashot Arkheologiyot – Excavations and Surveys in Israel, No. 119.