Archive for the ‘Palestinians in Jerusalem’ category

IT’S OFFICIAL: First ‘US Embassy’ Road Signs Go Up In Jerusalem

May 7, 2018

Anders Hagstrom Justice Reporter 12:02 PM 05/07/2018 The Daily Caller

Source Link: IT’S OFFICIAL: First ‘US Embassy’ Road Signs Go Up In Jerusalem

{A sign of the times. – LS}

Israel put up the first “U.S. Embassy” road signs in its capital of Jerusalem Monday morning, weeks after President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would move its embassy from Tel Aviv and recognize Israel’s capital.

The signs read in English, Hebrew, and Arabic and were put in place one week before the U.S. officially transfers its embassy to the city, Reuters reported Monday. The U.S. had technically recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital for decades, but past presidents put off transferring the embassy from Tel Aviv to placate the Palestinian contingent.

“This is not a dream. It is reality. I am proud and moved to have hung this morning the first new signs that were prepared for the U.S. Embassy,” wrote Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Twitter.

The Palestinian Authority continues to be enraged by the move, however, claiming it severely threatens any hope of lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

“This [embassy] move is not only illegal but will also thwart the achievement of a just and lasting peace between two sovereign and democratic states on the 1967 borders, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement.

The U.S. hopes there is still a possibility for peace, however. Israel has made repeated offers of a two-state solution, once even offering to internationalize Jerusalem, but the Palestinians rejected them.

“By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the seat of its government, we’re recognizing reality,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week. “I also stress, as President Trump has said in December, the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to negotiations between the parties, and we remain committed to achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future for both Israel and the Palestinians.”

 

 

Trump to announce recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

December 6, 2017

Trump to announce recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital | Anne’s Opinions, 6th December 2017

After holding our collective breath over the last couple of days, it emerged – without much fanfare from the American side – that Donald Trump has not quite refused to sign the waiver permitting the US to retain its embassy in Tel Aviv (the whole issue is terribly vague. Maybe the waters are being muddied on purpose) but he is going to make an announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Plus, he will be instructing the State Department to examine the practicalities of moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump will announce in a speech on Wednesday that he is formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while asking the State Department to formulate a plan for moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, White House officials confirmed Tuesday evening.

The recognition of Jerusalem, widely expected to anger the Arab world and cast a shadow over US-led peace efforts, will also be accompanied by Trump committing to support a two-state solution should both Israel and the Palestinians back it, the officials said, in a likely bid by the administration to balance the announcement seen as heavily favoring Israel.

The US Consulate in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood, adjoining a possible site for the US Embassy (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

Trump’s administration is certainly a reality-based one, as opposed to the Obama administration which was based on wishful thinking at best, and on an anti-Israel bias at worst:

The White House repeatedly referred to the recognition and embassy move, which will likely take years, as “acknowledging a reality,” noting the city’s role as the seat of Israel’s government but disregarding Palestinian claims there.

“He views this as a recognition of reality, both historic reality and modern reality,” one official said.

“While President Trump recognizes that the status of Jerusalem is a highly sensitive issue, he does not think it will be resolved by ignoring the truth that Jerusalem is home to Israel’s legislature, it’s Supreme Court, the Prime Minister’s residence, and as such, it is the capital of Israel,” one of the officials said.

The US now officially recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – and the world has gone into meltdown.

Reality-based diplomacy

US officials warned Trump not to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The reason is less ideological, more capitulation to threats of violence from the Arabs:

If Trump made such a move, it could spark demonstrations or violence by Palestinians or by Muslims around the world, in part because of the sensitivity of the Jerusalem site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.

The site includes the al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam, and the golden Dome of the Rock. It was also the site of an ancient Jewish temple, the holiest place in Judaism.

The Arab threats of mayhem and violence (as any good mafiosi would do) came thick and fast, with clashes expected in Judea and Samaria after Friday prayers – or incitement – in the mosques.

But best of all was Turkey’s threat to cut ties with Jerusalem (or was that a promise?):

ANKARA – President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday Turkey could go as far as breaking off diplomatic ties with Israel if the United States formally recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move he said would be a “red line” for Muslims.

Erdogan is the latest in a string of regional leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Hussein to warn of negative implications of the move.

Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett was quick to respond.

“Unfortunately, Erdogan does not miss an opportunity to attack Israel. Israel must advance its goals, including the recognition of United Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel,” Bennett said in a statement. “There will always be those who criticize, but at the end of the day it is better to have a united Jerusalem than Erdogan’s sympathy.”

Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said that Israel “does not take directives or threats from Turkey.”

Israel is a “sovereign state, and Jerusalem is its capital,” Katz said. “There is nothing more historically just or right than to recognize Jerusalem, which has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years, as the capital of the State of Israel. The days of the Sultan and the Ottoman Empire are over.”

Caroline Glick cheekily tweeted:

The Europeans, in their own weaselly way, also warned against American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said on Tuesday that “any action that would undermine” peace efforts to create two separate states for the Israelis and the Palestinians “must absolutely be avoided”.

Palestinian President-for-life Mahmoud Abbas is leading the Arab charge against recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:

Trump is expected on Wednesday to declare US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to order the start of work to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, White House officials confirmed Tuesday. US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is legitimate, almost banal; the same goes for moving the embassy there. But the warnings coming from even moderate Arab states show how sensitive the Jerusalem issue is and how problematic it can be to deal with even for them.

While the embassy move is expected to take months if not years, merely the prospect of it, as well as the recognition of Jerusalem, have inspired a blizzard of warnings of possible violence in the West Bank and elsewhere.

In a series of phone calls Tuesday, Trump made clear to Arab leaders his plans to move the embassy and recognize the city as Israel’s capital. He spoke about it with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Saudi King Salman. The leaders of all of the Sunni Arab states considered to be “moderate,” even those that have covert security ties with Israel, warned of the grave consequences of the move and of an escalation in violence because of the disregard for Muslim sensitivities around the world.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco, the Arab League, and the top Islamic body al-Azhar also all emphasized that moving the embassy could have serious consequences.

Leading the chorus, rather than being led this time, is Abbas. He has spoken in recent days with every Arab and European leader he could and warned them that an action like this could lead to violence on the ground.

Should there be an actual increase in violence, it won’t stem from attacks by “lone wolves” or smaller Palestinian factions; rather, the descent into chaos will have been orchestrated from above, by the chairman himself, just like in the bad old days of Yasser Arafat.

Last July, amid the crisis over metal detectors at the Temple Mount, he made the unprecedented move of freezing security coordination with Israel, and now he is practically ordering his men to escalate violence. His Fatah faction published on Tuesday an official announcement calling for “days of rage” on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and for mass protests.

But in the end, does any of this matter in the end? Will anything change on the ground for Israel and Jerusalem? (Besides the expected Palestinian violence of course).

Kay Wilson wrote an excellent post on Facebook, succinctly summarising the issue. I wish I wrote this myself:

Times of Israel reporter Haviv Rettig Gur also sums up the issue in an eloquent nutshell:

Here is a series of tweets demonstrating the absurdity of the situation until now, and the implications of American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:

Here is a witty but true observation about the Muslims’ attitude towards Jerusalem:

Let’s finish off on a positive note:

Thank you President Trump

 

“The Battle over Jerusalem Has Just Begun”

August 1, 2017

“The Battle over Jerusalem Has Just Begun” Gatestone Institute, Bassam Tawil, August 1, 2017

(Please see also, Israel’s public diplomacy challenge. — DM)

The Palestinians, feeling triumphant now that Israel has complied with their demand to remove the metal detectors and security cameras, have been clarifying that it is only the first step in their fight to eradicate any Israeli presence in the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

They admit that this is a battle over sovereignty on the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. For the Palestinians, the real battle is over who controls Jerusalem and its holy sites. The real battle, in their eyes, is over the Jews’ right to live in their own state in the Middle East. Many Palestinians have still not come to terms with Israel’s right to exist, and that is what this battle is really about.

The Palestinians have added it up just right. In their own words, they aim at an escalation of violence because they believe that what Israel did is the first step toward even more concessions and even further retreat.

The Palestinian “victory” celebrations that took place after Israel removed metal detectors and surveillance cameras from the entrances to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem bode badly for the future of stability and peace in the Middle East.

To the Palestinians and many Arabs and Muslims, the Israeli move is viewed as a sign of weakness. In their eyes, the removal of the security cameras and metal detectors is capitulation, pure and simple.

How do we know this? Easy: look at the Palestinian response. Rather than acknowledging the conciliatory nature of the Israeli government’s decision, aimed at easing tensions and preventing bloodshed and violence, the Palestinians are demanding more.

As far as the Palestinians are concerned, the controversy over the Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount, which came after three terrorists murdered two Israeli police officers at the holy site on July 14, is part of a larger battle with Israel.

We have reached a new level in this discourse: Palestinian Authority (PA) officials are now openly admitting that it is not the metal detectors or security cameras that are at issue.

Instead, they admit, this is a battle over sovereignty on the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. For the Palestinians, the real battle is over who controls Jerusalem and its holy sites. The real battle, in their eyes, is over the Jews’ right to live in their own state in the Middle East. Many Palestinians have still not come to terms with Israel’s right to exist, and that is what this battle is really about.

The Palestinians, feeling triumphant now that Israel has complied with their demand to remove the metal detectors and security cameras, have been clarifying that it is only the first step in their fight to eradicate any Israeli presence in the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

No one explained this Palestinian position better than the PA foreign minister, Riad Malki, who announced on July 27 that the Palestinians consider the Israeli decision to dismantle the metal detectors and security cameras as surrender. He also confirmed what many Israeli and Palestinian political analysts have been saying for the past few weeks — that the conflict over Israel’s security measures was merely an excuse used by the Palestinians to force Israel to make political and territorial concessions.

In a speech before the Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo, Malki explained: “The issue is not metal detectors or cameras, but who is in charge and who has sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” Malki went on to explain that the Palestinians do not see the recent conflict as a security issue, but rather as a purely political matter. “The battle over Jerusalem has just begun,” he said, adding that the wave of Palestinian protests over the Israeli security measures had succeeded in “thwarting” Israel’s “conspiracy” to change the historical and legal status quo at the Temple Mount.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki (pictured above in 2009) said last week in a speech: “The issue is not metal detectors or cameras, but who is in charge and who has sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa Mosque… The battle over Jerusalem has just begun.” (Image source: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

We are witnessing a rare moment of truth from the PA foreign minister, in which, ironically, he refutes claims by many in the international community and media to the effect that the recent conflict was sparked by metal detectors and surveillance cameras.

The Palestinian protests that came in response to the security measures indicated that it was more about hating Israel and trying to force it to its knees than about the removal of metal detectors and cameras. During these protests, especially at the entrances to the Temple Mount, Palestinians chanted slogans that included threats to destroy Israel and kill Jews.

“We are marching toward Al-Aqsa (Mosque), and we will sacrifice millions of martyrs,” was one of the chants at the protests, which were led by top Palestinian religious and political leaders. Another chant: “Khaybar Khaybar ya yahud, jaish Mohammed sa yaoud” (“Khaybar Khaybar O’ Jews, the army of Mohammed will return”) — a reference to the Battle of Khaybar in the year 628 between Prophet Mohammed and his followers against the Jews living in the oasis of Khaybar. The Jews were forced to surrender after being slaughtered and were thereafter permitted to live in Khaybar on condition that they give half of their produce to Muslims. The protesters also chanted slogans calling on Hamas’s military wing, Ezaddin Al-Qassam, to launch terror attacks against Israel.

For the most part, the foreign journalists covering the protests did not perceive these chants as intimidating or anti-Semitic. The protests were largely reported in a positive sense as peaceful “civil disobedience.” This is precisely the rhetoric, however, that fuels the Palestinian fire to take to the streets and hurl stones and petrol bombs at Israeli police officers and civilians.

Eighteen-year-old Omar Al-Abed, however, is one Palestinian who paid careful attention to such rhetoric. On July 22, he stormed the home of a Jewish family in Halamish, in the West Bank, and stabbed to death a grandfather and his son and daughter during a dinner to celebrate the birth of a grandchild. Shortly before setting out on his murderous mission, Al-Abed posted a note on his Facebook page in which he echoed many of the slogans from the protests, and went further by describing Jews as “sons of pigs and monkeys.”

The carnage in Halamish was perpetrated by a single Palestinian. Perhaps he acted alone, without having been indoctrinated to murder Jews and without communal support for doing so? Well, let us check: how did the Palestinian street react to his murderous rampage? How did Al-Abed’s own mother respond? The terrorist’s mother was filmed handing out sweets to visitors in celebration of her son’s decision to take the lives of the three Jews. “I’m proud of my son because he has raised our heads high,” she declared.

Perhaps the pride in the terrorist was simply a local affair? No, even that hope is smashed: as many Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip, took to the streets to celebrate the brutal murder, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh phoned the terrorist’s father to tell him, “Your son brought pride to the nation.”

The Halamish bloodshed brought intense pride to the terrorist’s mother, to those around her, and to the Palestinian world at large.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who never misses an opportunity to paint himself as a peacemaker par excellence, chose to remain quiet about the murder. Make no mistake: his loud silence over the Halamish terror attack is being interpreted by many Palestinians as an act of condoning the murder of three Jews. Whether condoning the atrocity or terrified of his own people, one thing is certain: Abbas and most Palestinian leaders have trained the Palestinians well. When they smell Jewish blood, they attack.

This is precisely what is going on in the Temple Mount mayhem.

Now that Israel has complied with their demands regarding the security measures, Palestinians feel more emboldened than ever. Murder and incitement, in their case, does indeed pay. They got away with the murder of the two police officers at the Temple Mount; they got away with the murder of the three family members in Halamish, and, in their view, they also got away with the recent violent protests and incitement against Israel.

Buoyed by the Israeli “capitulation,” the Palestinians are now talking about a “historic victory” over Israel. They are boasting that they have twisted Israel’s arm and forced it to “retreat.” Palestinian cartoonists and commentators have expressed similar sentiments, arguing that the removal of the metal detectors and security cameras is largely the result of their violence, terrorism and threats.

Once again, an Israeli gesture is being misinterpreted by the Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims as weakness. This sort of deliberate misreading is far from new. Yet every time it occurs, it sets the stage for another cycle of violence. The result of Israeli conciliation is invariably Palestinian violence.

The Palestinians have added it up just right. In their own words, they aim at an escalation of violence because they believe that what Israel did is the first step toward even more concessions and even further retreat.

Bassam Tawil is an Arab Muslim based in the Middle East.

Abbas is playing a dangerous game

July 27, 2017

Abbas is playing a dangerous game, Israel Hayom, Yaron Blum, July 27, 2017

(Please see also, Israel’s public diplomacy challenge. “Of course, the world rightly assumes that no nation would willingly give up what is rightly theirs, and so millions watching from the sidelines throw their support behind the violent side that refuses to compromise.” — DM)

The threat of stopping the security coordination with Israel is likely to turn on Abbas, as Hamas is lurking around the corner, waiting for the opportunity to stage a coup against the Palestinian Authority as it did in 2007 in the Gaza Strip. The need to calm these players down is of the utmost importance if the wave of incitement is to stop becoming a wave of more lone terrorist attacks.

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The Temple Mount crisis is far from over. The latest excuse for the Palestinians’ riots is Israel’s decision to conduct manual security checks on the Temple Mount complex.

How transparent and pathetic. Everyone with something at stake on the Temple Mount or Al-Aqsa mosque understands that the site has become a fantastic vantage point from which to promote personal interests. For the average Muslims, the Temple Mount and any change in its status quo is a red line. Indeed, this motif prompts millions in the Muslim world to take to the streets and is strong enough to glue the various streams in Muslim and Palestinian communities worldwide together.

Tensions apparently came to an end after an agreement between Jordan and Israel to take down the metal detectors and security cameras installed on the Temple Mount after the July 14 terrorist attack carried out by three gunmen from Umm al-Fahm. Despite this, the Muslim players found an excuse to reignite the playing field. And who are these players’ captains? The Palestinian Authority, Hamas, organizations active around Al-Aqsa, Waqf workers, the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, and Turkey.

Even though Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is once again disparaging Israel and its policies, despite agreements between him and Israel, the star of the week is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. From a point of great weakness against rivals in the Fatah movement, such as exiled party official Mohammed Dahlan — not to mention Hamas — Abbas realized that the “Al-Aqsa is in danger” narrative had the potential to add to his failing power. At the moment he is doing everything to ignite the streets, whether through his own voice or through the heads of the Tanzim, one of Fatah’s militant factions, and Fatah itself.

Palestinian Authority and Palestinian security apparatus officials, who had received orders to suspend the security coordination with Israel before its decision to remove security measures on the site, are now calling to further escalate the popular struggle by taking to the streets in protests planned for Friday in the Temple Mount area against the “occupation.”

Abbas’ recent declarations and direct involvement in the escalation stand out in their irregularity and are worrying. Most of all, however, these are new because they do not hide behind excuses. He is not meandering, maybe because he feels that the bullets in his gun are running out and this step can improve his current low position. Abbas is playing a double game: With the U.S. and the international community, he conveys a message of willingness to negotiate with Israel; while on the other hand, when speaking of the Temple Mount crisis, he comes out with contradictory, obtrusive statements on cutting ties, as well as calls likely to be construed as condoning terrorist activity by young Fatah and Tanzim members.

The threat of stopping the security coordination with Israel is likely to turn on Abbas, as Hamas is lurking around the corner, waiting for the opportunity to stage a coup against the Palestinian Authority as it did in 2007 in the Gaza Strip. The need to calm these players down is of the utmost importance if the wave of incitement is to stop becoming a wave of more lone terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile, a handful of residents in the Jewish community in Hebron are taking advantage of the situation by invading the Machpelah House, adjacent to the Cave of the Patriarchs, over which they claim ownership. This creates a new and dangerous point of contention, as well as a post the Israeli army and police are forced to protect. Some would understand this development as a provocation for escalation — and it is difficult to argue with that.

Yaron Blum is a former senior Shin Bet security service officer.

Israel’s government under triple siege

July 26, 2017

Israel’s government under triple siege, DEBKAfile, July 26, 2017

Where the ministers went wrong was in failing to go after the perpetrators of the murders committed at one of the most sensitive world shrines. The killers belonged to the lawless Jabarin clan that rules the Israeli Arab town of Umm al Fahm. The ministers did not treat this clan as central to the crime, out of concern for the delicate relations with Israel’s Arab minority. Instead, Temple Mount, the lightening rod of Israel’s relations with the entire Muslim and Arab world, was treated as the core issue.

If Israel fails to draw a strong red line at this point in the standoff, a new crisis or terrorist outrage will be staged every few days to force the ministers to fall back step by step on measures pivotal to national security. Popular opnion at home, incensed over the Halamish terrorist outrage, was against the first concession and will oppose any more.

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Binyamin Netanyahu’s government is being forced back step by step on the Temple Mount standoff by a three-line siege imposed by the Palestinians, Sunni Arab governments, including Jordan, and public opinion at home.

The security cabinet can’t be faulted for approving its first rational steps for securing the worshippers and visitors frequenting Temple Mount, after three Israeli Arab gunmen desecrated the shrine on July 14 by shooting dead two Israeli police officers on guard at Lion’s Gate.

Metal detectors at the gates provided a quick fix for reopening the shrines the next day.

Where the ministers went wrong was in failing to go after the perpetrators of the murders committed at one of the most sensitive world shrines. The killers belonged to the lawless Jabarin clan that rules the Israeli Arab town of Umm al Fahm. The ministers did not treat this clan as central to the crime, out of concern for the delicate relations with Israel’s Arab minority. Instead, Temple Mount, the lightening rod of Israel’s relations with the entire Muslim and Arab world, was treated as the core issue.

The Jabarins felt safe enough to carry on breaking Israel’s laws. On Tuesday, July 25, a member was caught smuggling a truckload of illegal Palestinian workers from the Palestinian town of Jenin across into Israel. It was obvious that something is badly amiss in national homeland security policies.

In another example, the government finally, a year late, ordered the home of one of the Tel Aviv Sarona Market terrorists, who murdered four Israelis, to be knocked down. One story of a building in the Hebron village of Yata will be destroyed. At the same time, the Supreme Court of Justice in Jerusalem gave the police 30 hours to hand over the bodies of the three Temple Mount gunmen, members of the Jabarin tribe,  to their families for burial.

Razing the home of one of the Tel Aviv terrorists, who claimed to have been inspired by ISIS, in a timely fashion, a year ago, might have been some deterrent for the killers of Umm al-Fahm.

It now turns out that the shrine murders 12 days ago were the result of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians coming together for a joint terrorist conspiracy against Israel. The location was deliberately chosen as the catalyst for dragging moderate Arab rulers into a plot for compelling Israel to give up its sovereignty on Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem.

This conspiracy was insufficiently addressed by the ministers taking part in the security cabinet’s deliberations. The removal of the metal scanners, security cameras – or any other measures Israel was been forced to cede – will not satisfy the Palestinians and Israeli Arab leaders, including their members of parliament. They are intent on drawing their community of 1.5 million into the bloody brew they have cooked up for the entire Arab world to consume.

As this juncture, the Israeli government has no choice but to brake hard on concessions – even as street violence escalates – and draw a red line against caving in any further. The Palestinians and their clerics should be firmly informed that if they choose to continue to boycott Al Aqsa and hold prayers in the street outside the shrine, so be it. Israel will not budge any further on its responsibility to secure Temple Mount against more violence. And their dream of a victory parade on the holy compound to celebrate their humiliation of the Jewish State will never come true.

Very few Israelis are aware of the origins of the 180,000 Arabs living in Jerusalem today. Most of them originate in Hebron and migrated to Jerusalem over the years since 1967. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan which ruled eastern Jerusalem and its shrines for 19 years up until the Six Day War, very carefully kept Hebron natives out of the city. Their extremist conduct over Temple Mount explains why.

If Israel fails to draw a strong red line at this point in the standoff, a new crisis or terrorist outrage will be staged every few days to force the ministers to fall back step by step on measures pivotal to national security. Popular opnion at home, incensed over the Halamish terrorist outrage, was against the first concession and will oppose any more.

Encouraging integration in united Jerusalem

June 9, 2017

Encouraging integration in united Jerusalem, Israel Hayom, David M. Weinberg, June 9, 2017

Koren and Avrahami believe that more and more residents of east Jerusalem understand that there is no alternative to Israeli control of the city on the horizon, and that they will always be better off under Israeli administration. In fact, the last Washington Institute survey in east Jerusalem, conducted in June 2015, found that 52% of Arab residents would prefer to become citizens of Israel, whereas only 42% would want to be citizens of the Palestinian state, even after a peace accord.

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Last week, I wrote about Turkey’s and other radical Islamist groups’ growing influence in east Jerusalem political and social affairs, as reported recently in the Israeli journal for thought and policy Hashiloach.

This week, I wish to present the more optimistic side of the situation, focusing on trends among east Jerusalem Arabs toward integration into Israeli society, and on the policies being implemented by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to increase an Arab sense of belonging in united Jerusalem.

There are some 320,000 Arab residents in Jerusalem (plus 50,000 West Bank Palestinians who reside in the city illegally or by virtue of family reunification). They constitute about 37% of Jerusalem’s population and 20% of the Israel’s overall Arab population. About 100,000 of Jerusalem’s Arabs live in chaotic neighborhoods that lie within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem but are on the other side of the security fence.

The Arabs of Jerusalem are relatively young and impoverished. According to the National Insurance Institute, 83% of the children in east Jerusalem are below the poverty line, as opposed to 56% of Israeli Arab children and 39% of Israeli Jewish children in west Jerusalem.

Residents of east Jerusalem have the legal status of permanent residents, which in practice is the same as that of foreign nationals who want to live in Israel for an extended period. This status grants them the right to live and work in Israel without requiring special permits (unlike Palestinians in Judea and Samaria). It also entitles them to benefits under the National Insurance Law and the National Health Insurance Law. As permanent residents, they are eligible to vote in municipal but not in national elections.

Obviously, these social and health benefits rank high among the reasons why Palestinians prefer to live within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, even though they could obtain cheaper and better housing elsewhere.

East Jerusalem Arabs “are entangled in a thicket of contradictions,” Dr. David Koren and Ben Avrahami, the advisers on east Jerusalem affairs for the Jerusalem Municipality, write. “They assert their Palestinian national identity alongside an unprecedented demand for Israeli citizenship; throw stones at the light rail while using it; harass visitors to Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus but value the care that Arabs receive in its clinics and wards; protest the enforcement of planning and building laws in Arab neighborhoods while calling for an increased police presence there to maintain public order; campaign against any manifestation of normalization with Israel in tandem with a tremendous interest in learning Hebrew and an increasing preference for the Israeli rather than the Palestinian matriculation certificate…”

Koren and Avrahami believe that more and more residents of east Jerusalem understand that there is no alternative to Israeli control of the city on the horizon, and that they will always be better off under Israeli administration. In fact, the last Washington Institute survey in east Jerusalem, conducted in June 2015, found that 52% of Arab residents would prefer to become citizens of Israel, whereas only 42% would want to be citizens of the Palestinian state, even after a peace accord.

As mentioned, there has been a marked increase in the numbers of east Jerusalemites filing applications for Israeli citizenship; more than 1,000 in 2016. Other indicators of belonging are the many programs to learn Hebrew that have been established in east Jerusalem in recent years; the mounting preference to send children to schools that lead to Israeli high school matriculation; and the soaring demand in east Jerusalem for pre-university preparatory programs subsidized by the Israeli government.

Arab Jerusalemites have also enthusiastically welcomed the municipality’s initiatives in east Jerusalem, such as employment centers, community councils at the neighborhood level, and a high-tech incubator.

In addition, the Jerusalem municipality’s major effort to reduce disparities and improve the level of services and infrastructure in Arab neighborhoods, with an emphasis on roads (more than 50 million shekels — $14 million — a year) and classrooms (500 million shekels over the coming decade) has not gone without notice.

“In our eyes,” write the municipality Arab affairs advisers, “even the protest demonstrations by east Jerusalemites in Safra Square, in front of City Hall, are not nuisances, but rather a welcome phenomenon that expresses a de facto recognition that the municipality is the appropriate address for solving their problems. This is the fruit of normalization.”

“We believe that, despite their Palestinian national identity, broad sectors of the east Jerusalem Arab population have come around to a pragmatic attitude about Israeli authorities. Increasingly, they see Israel not only as a culprit to be blamed for their difficulties but as the only possible source for solving their problems and turning their lives around.”

“There are many Palestinians in east Jerusalem who have reached the instrumental level of exploiting the advantages offered by the western half of the city and would now like to participate in Israeli society at a deeper level — learning from it, mingling with it, and even joining it. An expression of this is the growing number of east Jerusalem teenagers who are enlisting to civil service programs after high school.”

Koren and Avrahami argue that Israel must invest in these propitious trends, for they have strategic implications both for the unity of the city and its security. “In another decade or two, the teenagers who today engage more deeply with Israeli society will be the pragmatists who moderate Palestinian society.”

During recent rounds of violence, they note, teachers and principals went out into the streets to get their pupils to curb their emotions and avoid attacking innocent persons, both Arabs and Jews. “In another decade, perhaps these teachers will be joined by businesspeople, community activists and cultural figures who endeavor to introduce mutual respect and sensitivity to the turbulent reality of Jerusalem.”

David M. Weinberg (http://davidmweinberg.com/) is director of public affairs at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.