- A November 10 Qatar News Agency article headlined, "Israel
Plans to Rebuild Old Jerusalem - Palestinian Official," saying:
- Attorney Ahmed Al-Ruwaidi, "responsible for the
Jerusalem unit in the Palestinian Authority (PA), said Israel plan(s) to
build new settlement homes in old Jerusalem where the ancient walls of
the city will be overshadowed by modern bridges, synagogues and gardens
spreading from the Arab neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah to Wdi Al Joze and
- The scheme involves home demolitions, dispossessions,
and new settlement construction to solidify "the capital and spiritual
center of Israel and the Jewish people (by creating) a world city which
attracts the souls of millions of believers across the globe."
- Projects completed so far are part of the plan, to completely
transform Jerusalem's Old City, Al-Ruwaidi adding:
- "All the settlement projects in Jerusalem during
the past three years, some of which have been practically implemented,
fall under the (plan's) framework, including a decision to erect a thousand
new settlement units in Jebel Abu Ghunaim aimed at completing the isolation
of the city with a wall of settlements."
- "Israel announced previously it will build 50,000
new units in the city. The implementation of 20,000 of (them) has been
initiated practically under projects that have been approved from time
to time for political objectives linked to political and international
- So far, 20,000 Palestinian housing units face demolition,
to accommodate new settlements, Old City excavation projects, and other
Jews only development. As a result, Palestinians will be dispossessed and
- East Jerusalem Home Demolitions
- The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
tracks them as they happen, its East Jerusalem data showing that:
- "Since 1967, around 2,000 homes have been demolished,"
670 from 2000 - 2008 with about 20,000 outstanding demolition orders.
- Currently, Palestinians comprise about one-third of the
city's population, confined to 7% of its land "in mostly inadequate
housing." Prior Israeli master plans aimed at maintaining a 70 - 30%
split favoring Jews, a policy to widen going forward.
- Already, discriminatory measures exist, including encircling
densely populated Palestinian neighborhoods by "green space"
or "unzoned land" where building is prohibited. Applications
to rezone, increase density, or build in small areas designated for residential
construction are denied. As a result, new housing can't accommodate Palestinian
- Moreover, their public services are restricted, including
for education, healthcare, and vital infrastructure needs for roads, sewage
and water connections. East Jerusalem Palestinians contribute around 40%
of city taxes, yet get 8% of Municipal spending in return.
- Since 1967, Jewish settlements have proliferated in East
Jerusalem, to expand its Jewish character, and one day Judaize the entire
city as Israel's exclusive capital. "Settlements built on the (city's)
outskirts....also dissect the continuity between the northern and southern
West Bank, jeopardizing the feasibility of a future Palestinian State."
- East Jerusalem Palestinians hold city IDs, revokable
for anyone residing outside its boundaries or assuming another citizenship,
even temporarily. As second class residents, their rights keep eroding,
including to their own homes.
- From 1967 - 2003, 90,000 Jewish housing units were completed,
most with government subsidies. "None were built for Palestinians
with public funding." Israel's Master Plan 2020, discussed below,
"purports to plan for the long term fate of East Jerusalem, yet it
has been prepared with no consultation of any kind with the Palestinian
community." Why? Because exclusion is eventually planned, though not
explicitly stated in 2020's language.
- Under international law, however, settlement construction
is illegal. So are home demolitions, Fourth Geneva prohibiting "any
destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging
individually or collectively to private persons," except when "absolutely
necessary by military operations." Forced displacement is also banned,
yet Israel continues it relentlessly, a discriminatory policy to delegitimize
the Palestinian presence in the city as well as claim it as their rightful
- Israel's Jerusalem Master Plan 2020
- Titled, "Demography, Geopolitics, and the Future
of Israel's Capital: Jerusalem's Proposed Master Plan," it stresses
assuring a Jewish majority, continuing Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion's
judicial writ that:
- "We must bring Jews to eastern Jerusalem at any
cost. We must settle tens of thousands of Jews in a brief time. Jews will
agree to settle in eastern Jerusalem even in shacks. We cannot await the
construction of orderly neighborhoods. The essential thing is that Jews
will be there."
- As a result, after the 1967 Six Day War, 70,000 dunams
were annexed to the north, south, and east of the old municipal boundaries.
The plan was to control large areas "with a minimal Arab population
and to prevent the possibility of the city's partition in the future."
Thus, Jewish settlements proliferated and keep growing, Palestinians displaced
to accommodate them.
- Previous master plans called for accelerated Jewish population
growth. It's still current policy, new settlement construction continuing
to accommodate it. The latest plan calls for expanding Jewish neighborhoods,
saying expropriating Arab land isn't "plausible" as in the past,
when, in fact, that's precisely what's happening through tens of thousands
of new housing units, ones for Jews only on Palestinian land.
- According to Khalil Tofakji, head of the Arab Studies
Society in Occupied East Jerusalem's Mapping Department: between now and
2020, Israel will complete its "Judaism plan."
- Mustafa Barghouti, an MP and Palestinian National Initiative's
Secretary General, said plans are underway to "impose a new reality
on the ground," around $1.5 billion allocated this year alone to Judaize
the city. Besides settlement expansions and new ones, projects include
a $500 million light rail line, luxury hotels, synagogues, commercial and
other development - on expropriated Palestinian land.
- Barghouti said Israel is doing to East Jerusalem "what
they did in Jaffa, Haifa and Acre, (incrementally) taking (it) over (to)
then declare their demands" - total Judaization.
- Despite softer Master Plan 2020 language, at issue is
increasing Jewish presence in the city, dispossessing Palestinians to accommodate
them. Jamal Juma, head of the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, says that:
- Israelis "are occupying the Palestinian houses inside
the old town, which was historically divided to four quarters, Muslim,
Christian, Armenian and Jewish. (They're) slowly infiltrating the other
quarters (as well by) taking over Palestinian properties."
- A Final Comment
- A previous article explained that Jerusalem is politically
important for Jews as its historic capital, national and religious center,
and symbol of Judaism's revival and prominence. For Christians, it's where
Jesus lived and died, and for Muslims it's their third holiest site (the
Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque) after Mecca's
Sacred Mosque and the Mosque of the Prophet in Madina.
- Israel, however, transformed Jerusalem from a multi-cultural,
multi-religious city into a predominantly Jewish one toward eventually
Judaizing it entirely. For decades, incremental progress continued. The
goal remained constant, to establish irreversible "facts on the ground,"
making Jerusalem Israel's capital with an exclusive Jewish presence, despite
Palestinians rightfully claiming it for their own.
- Therein lies the heart of the conflict, along with ending
the occupation, achieving peace and self-determination, as well as granting
Palestinian refugees their right to return. Justice will be denied until
those issues are equitably resolved, what so far is nowhere in sight.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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