By default certain areas of East Jerusalem are defined as Areas A or B, namely those located in the Palestinian territories. But some of these areas also cover the heart of Jerusalem, under Israeli control and within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem.
Some only hundreds of meters from the city center. By doing so, in order to ensure the safety of users, the app prevents crossing into parts of East Jerusalem. Those who want to change it can do so through the app's settings.
This feature can sometimes delay a trip by 20 minutes or more. A drive from The First Station in Jerualem to the City of David in Jerusalem, less than a kilometer's distance as the crow flies, will take more than half an hour using Waze directions.
This is because the application designates the Silwan area as controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Otherwise, the trip would last about 10 minutes.
Similarly the app will direct those going from Mount Scopus to the Kotel to go through At-Tur and not through Wadi Joz, defined as PA territory. This is so despite the fact that the frequency of terrorist incidents in the neighborhood of At-Tur are much higher than that of Wadi Joz.
Following Ynet's report on the subject, Nir Barkat, the Mayor of Jerusalem, said he intends to contact the CEO of Waze to demand this setting be changed.
"Waze's designation of areas of Jerusalem as belonging to the Palestinian Authority is factually incorrect and unacceptable. I demand the company's management to change it and not turn an app into a political tool."
Waze's division of Jerusalem drew harsh criticism from members of Jerusalem's City Council, among them Aryeh King who said, "Is it conceivable that the police would tell Jews where and where not to go? We are talking about defining areas of Jerusalem as Area A (Palestinian Authority territory). I expect the minister of public security to order the police to set guidelines so that Waze stops, in effect, dividing Jerusalem."
Jerusalem police stated that, "Police are acting together with Waze for the benefit of its users and to better direct them to their destination, with an emphasis on holidays and special events during which routes are closed." The police also stressed that, "police officers are deployed throughout Jerusalem and especially in East Jerusalem in order to ensure safe travel on all of the city's routes."
This is the second time Waze has been involved in a controversial case related to Jerusalem. Earlier this month came the coordinates of the city's bilingual school in the city came under the caption "The bilingual school – may it be damned." As soon as the matter was brought to the attention of the company the caption was immediately amended.