Saturday, October 3, 2015

“Title By Conquest: The Judaization of Jerusalem”

“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.”
David Ben-Gurion, 1967

Few months ago I decided to write about Israel’s Judaization and de-Arabization of Jerusalem as well as about the agony and hardship of the Palestinians living there.  At the beginning, I thought it was going to be an ordinary exercise that would take few days of research before finally writing it.  As I had expected, there was nothing ordinary about the contemporary history of Jerusalem.  Today, discrimination, convolution, manipulation, underhandedness, hypocrisy, deceit, and injustice mark everything related to Israel’s occupation and annexation of Jerusalem, and to the treatment of Palestinians there. 

As I started to write, I soon realized the heightened level of scrutiny one must employ in writing about this divine city. It was overwhelming to see the amount of misinformation and historical falsification being deliberately and consistently disseminated concerning the history of Jerusalem and Palestine.   Avoiding the use of anachronistic and misleading terminology was of particular importance given the manipulation of language, especially in appellations, masterminded by the colonizing Zionists.

I naively hoped that by learning more about the intricacies shaping today’s Jerusalem that I would find answers to why and how Israel continues to violate with impunity international law and human rights conventions. It did not take long before it dawned on me that most, if not all, of the international community has collectively colluded to ignore and turn a blind eye to Israel’s repeated and persistent violations there. Today, the international community whitewashes its complacency towards Israel’s illegal actions in Jerusalem through occasionally issuing carefully worded reports showing Israel’s violations of an array of international laws, resolutions and conventions. These reports not only expose Israel’s contempt of international law, they also clearly expose the inability of the world community to impose punitive measures against Israel.  It is ironic to see the same community mobilizing in recent years “Armageddons” to invade and destroy Arab countries for not complying with resolutions that are identical in their legal binding nature to the ones Israel has been violating for decades.

Today, what Israel is doing in Jerusalem is a crime and a travesty of justice of horrific proportions.  Jerusalem is undergoing a massive systematic Judaization and de-Arabization process.  The Palestinians living there are in danger of losing their homes and identity as Jerusalemites.  They are alienated and helpless in fending for themselves against Israel’s monstrous colonial policies. Israel subjects them to provocative and suffocating measures in the hope of driving them out of their generations-old homes. Edward Said best described Israel’s policies in Jerusalem as “programmatic policies designed to remove Palestinians, officially erase their traces, consign them to legal and institutional non-existence”.[1]

As I pored over the heaps of books and articles on Jerusalem, one truth kept on asserting itself: “Jerusalem is the cornerstone of any peace agreement in Palestine.  Without a comprehensive and viable solution to the question of Jerusalem (East and West), there can never be just and lasting peace not only in Palestine, but also in the Arab World.”

The status of Jerusalem:

It does not take the observer long to realize that clear and unambiguous discussion of the “status of Jerusalem” is rare.  By Jerusalem it is meant all of Jerusalem, east and west (old and modern).  Confining the discussion of Jerusalem to East Jerusalem serves at sanctioning Israel’s aggression of 1948 and de facto annexation of West (Or modern) Jerusalem. Today this very status continues to be entangled in legal quagmires in what seems to be a deliberate attempt to render a simple and straightforward case of illegal land occupation, annexation and usurpation into a complicated matter without attainable solutions.

For many the mention of the status of Jerusalem recalls the Oslo Agreement of 1993 and its Declarations of Principles.  I am not going to allude to this at all in this paper.  I personally believe that waiting for a just resolution of the status of Jerusalem through the Oslo Agreement is like waiting for Godot.  It will never happen. The surge in Israel’s creation of infamous malicious “facts on the ground” between 1993 and today is enough to validate my belief.

To tackle the status of Jerusalem one could go as far back as the time of the Jebusites almost 3800 years ago, or as recent as few decades ago.  I will not delve into the ancient history of Jerusalem.  However, given the subject of this paper, it is important to highlight that the Jewish rule was the shortest in Jerusalem and lasted 413 years, which ended 2500 years ago. A fact that needs to be emphasized in the face of historical myths and fabrications like “Jerusalem 3000” celebrating Jerusalem’s 3000 years as a Jewish capital, which of course deviously implies an unbroken 3000 years of Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem. In contrast, one must not lose sight of the fact that the pagans (Jebusites, Canaanites, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans) ruled Jerusalem for seventeen centuries, the Christians (Byzantine, Crusader and British) ruled it for 420 years, and the Moslems (Arabs and Turks) ruled it for twelve centuries.  For the purpose of this essay, I will look into the status of Jerusalem starting in 1947.
A significant watershed in the contemporary history of Jerusalem was marked with the United Nations (UN) General Assembly Resolution 181, also known as the partition plan. On November 29, 1947, and in line with the recommendations of the Palestinian Royal Commission (Peel Commission) that was formed by the United Kingdom following the Palestinian revolt of 1936, the UN General Assembly voted to divide Palestine into two states, a Jewish state with control over 56% of the land, and an Arab state with control over 43% of the land.  The remaining 1% pertained to Jerusalem, which was to become a “corpus separatum under a special international regime to be administered by the United Nations. “[2]&[3]  Resolution 181 also ended the 26 years of British mandate over Palestine.  The British Government ended its mandate on May 15, 1948 without providing for a successor local administration, which resulted in plunging Palestine in utter chaos. Around the same time and on May 14, 1948 David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel (1948-1953 & 1955–1963), declared "the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel”[4]
Although Jerusalem is the main topic of this paper, one must allude to the absurdity of such division at a time when the population of Palestine was 67 percent Palestinian and 33 percent Jewish.  The Jewish ratio was artificially high given the waves of European (mostly British)-facilitated Jewish immigration during the mandate years to Palestine.  In 1900 the Jewish population in all of historic (mandate) Palestine was no more than 7 percent, which clearly demonstrates the unnatural rate of 33 percent in 1948.[5]  Jewish population in Jerusalem mushroomed from approximately twenty thousand in 1918 to close to hundred thousand in 1948.[6]  It is interesting to note that only in the 19th century did the Jewish population in Jerusalem begin to increase.  According to historian Joseph Hajjar, by the mid 1800s the Jews living in Jerusalem numbered no more than 5,000.
The ownership of the land subject the partition was over 90 percent Palestinian while the Jews owned less than 7 percent.  Therefore, the Palestinian population falling under the partitioned Jewish section was 45 percent, while the Jewish population in the Palestinian section was 1 percent.  To put it in the words of Professor Walid Khalidi the resolution (UN 181) said to the Zionists: “You will increase what you have 8-fold (from 7 percent to 55 percent of the country).”  It said to the Palestinians: “You yield 45 percent of what you have and let one-third of your population live as a permanent minority under alien rule.”[7]
Immediately after the passage of the partition plan civil war broke out between the Palestinians and the colonizing Zionists.  This escalated into a full fledge war in May 1948.  The war officially ended in 1949 with four armistice agreements signed between Israel and Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Transjordan. Palestine was now divided into three parts with three different political regimes: Israel, the hill country of central Palestine[8] (West Bank), and Gaza Strip.  The “temporary in nature” “Armistice Agreements” established demarcation lines marking the boundaries of the various parts of divided Palestine.  The demarcation lines concerning Jerusalem were with Jordan and constituted part of what is known as the Green Line (reference to the green ink used to draw the lines on the map in question). [9]  The demarcation lines are also referred to as the 1967 borders. 
As the very name denotes[10], the “Armistice Agreements” were never meant to establish permanent borders.  They were simply meant to delineate areas under Jewish, Palestinian and Arab control for the purpose of cessation of hostilities.  These new cease-fire lines brought 78 percent of Palestine under Zionist control as opposed to the 56 percent originally allotted to the Jewish state by the UN partition plan of 1947 two years earlier.  The remaining 22 percent of the land went under Arab control and it encompassed the Gaza Strip, the eastern side of Jerusalem comprising of the Old City with a total land area of 6.5 square kilometer, and the rest of what came to be known as the West Bank of TransJordan.  It must be emphasized that by seizing 78 percent of the land the Jews invoked General Assembly Resolution 181 to proclaim a Jewish state, but completely disregarded its provisions concerning its own boundaries or the territories reserved for the Arab State and the “Corpus Separatum” concerning the City of Jerusalem.
With Jerusalem falling within the boundaries of the Armistice Agreements, Israel occupied and later annexed the western part of Jerusalem, while Jordan occupied and later annexed the eastern part of the city. The Israeli-Jordanian General Armistice Agreement of 3 April 1949 effectively formalized the de facto division of Jerusalem.  In the meantime, and after receiving assurances from Israel that it would implement UN resolutions 181 and 194 (refugees, right of return),  UN General Assembly resolution 273 was adopted on May 11, 1949 to admit the State of Israel to membership in the UN.  Excerpts from the resolution read:
“Recalling its resolutions of 29 November 1947 (181) and 11 December 1948 (194) and taking note of the declarations and explanations made by the representative of the Government of Israel 5/ before the ad hoc Political Committee in respect of the implementation of the said resolutions,
The General Assembly, Acting in discharge of its functions under Article 4 of the Charter and rule 125 of its rules of procedure,
1. Decides that Israel is a peace-loving State which accepts the obligations contained in the Charter and is able and willing to carry out those obligations;”
Following the signing of the armistice agreements as well as its admission to membership in the UN, Israel was quick to act on manipulating the temporary “de facto” recognition of its role in West Jerusalem. On January 23, 1950, Israel declared West Jerusalem as its capital and shortly thereafter it moved its parliament (Knesset) there.  This move was in violation of international law as well as of the UN resolutions on the question of Jerusalem.
The hill country of central Palestine including East Jerusalem was annexed by Transjordan in 1949, and came to be described erroneously and un-historically as the “West Bank of Transjordan”.  A prelude to this annexation was a conference held in Jericho, and organized by King Abdullah I in December 1948, with Palestinian notables who afterwards called for unification with Transjordan. In February 1949, the Jordanian Nationality Law was amended to grant every Palestinian a Jordanian citizenship.  In March 1950, King Abdullah I issued a royal order to erase the word “Palestine” from the map and from all official statements; thereafter the area was to be known as “The West Bank of the Hashemite Kingdom”[11]. The unification was finally completed on April 24, 1950 when the Jordanian National Assembly adopted a resolution for the unification of Transjordan and Palestine.
The UN kept its stand on the “Corpus Separatum” status and the internationalization of Jerusalem.  It initially resisted the post 1949 Israeli and Jordanian occupation and annexation of East and West Jerusalem.  However, with time there seems to have been a de facto acceptance of the control of both countries over the city.   It is crucial to note that the UN never rescinded the Partition Plan, which simply means that to this date the issue of the status of Jerusalem (east and west) is still legally undetermined, and in abeyance.
In effect, by 1949 historic (British mandate) Palestine came under the jurisdiction of Transjordan, Egypt and Israel.  A Jewish state as stipulated by the partition plan (Resolution 181) was created with complete disregard to the provisions concerning the boundaries or the territories reserved for the Arab State and the “Corpus Separatum” in the plan. The Palestinian state as envisioned by the partition plan never materialized.  Up until 1967, Jerusalem remained divided between West and East under Israeli and Jordanian control respectively.[12]
After the war of June 5, 1967 Jerusalem was dealt another fatal blow when Israel seized the West Bank including the Old City (East Jerusalem), the Gaza Strip and parts of Egypt and Syria.  By then, the entire city of Jerusalem fell under Israeli control.  It is “immediately” after June 1967 that the process of structured and premeditated Judaization of Jerusalem became blatantly clear.  This was amply evidenced on June 27, 1967 when Israel passed the “Law and Administration Ordinance (Amendment 11) Law” extending Israel’s law and jurisdiction and administration to newly conquered East Jerusalem. On June 28, 1967 Israel enacted the “Municipalities Ordinance (Amendment No. 6) Law”, which gave the Israeli Minister of Interior, then Moshe Dayan, broad powers to amend the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem.  Armed with this law, Dayan expanded the land area of East Jerusalem from 6.5 square kilometers to 71 square kilometers of expropriated Palestinian land, which included an airport and lands of 28 Palestinian towns and villages.  On that same day the Knesset amended the law of 1950, which proclaimed Jerusalem as Israel's capital, to reflect the newly defined municipal boundaries. The following day, the Assistant Israeli Commander of Jerusalem, Yaacov Salman, issued an order to dissolve the 12-member elected Arab Municipal Council headed by Mayor Rawhi al-Khatib.  A year later al-Khatib was taken out of his home by the Israeli military in the middle of the night, and was deported to Jordan under the pretext that his presence in Jerusalem constituted a danger to the security of Israel.

By the end of June 1967, newly expanded East Jerusalem was fully primed to be amalgamated with West Jerusalem. The illegal and unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem was finally cemented on July 30, 1980 with the enactment of the Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel, which declared, "Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”  The international community vigorously condemned this law, and soon afterwards on August 20, 1980 the UN National Security Council adopted Resolution 478 (by 14 to none) declaring the law “null and void”. There was one abstention in the voting on this resolution, the United States. Fifteen years later and true to its unconditional and unwavering support to Israel, the USA passed The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995which called for initiating and funding the relocation of the Embassy of the United States in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no later than May 31, 1999. The Act also called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city and for it to be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel. Moreover, in 2000 and in a show of utter contempt and disregard to the international community Israel enacted an amendment to the Basic Law of 1980 in which it specified the jurisdiction of the law, that included East Jerusalem. The amendment also prohibited transfer of authority to a foreign body, for example an international regime (Preempting any attempt to enforce the corpus separatum status stipulated in UN Resolution 181).  In October 2010, the Israeli cabinet unanimously approved a draft law to official Judaize the city of Jerusalem. Plan No. 30 states that Jerusalem is to be a Jewish national priority area and promoted as the “united Jewish capital” for the Jewish majority, as “the heart of the Jewish people” and the cultural and spiritual center for Jews in Israel and around the world. [13]
To date, the annexation of West Jerusalem by Israel in 1948 is not recognized de jure. Although the 1949 General Armistice Agreement endorsed the de facto division of the City, it did not affect the legal status of it. Today, the international community views Israel as exercising only de facto authority over West Jerusalem, and it decisively rejects Israeli claims to sovereignty over Jerusalem (East and West). Nor is it accepted that there is currently any other Power that has sovereignty over it.[14]
Israel’s egregious abuse and violation of international law in the Old City of Jerusalem spurred Jordan to propose in 1980 to enlist it on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world heritage properties in danger.  In December 1982 and during a session of World Heritage Committee held in Paris at UNESCO headquarters, Jordan highlighted the serious and specific dangers which threatened the "Old City of Jerusalem" pointing out the destruction of religious properties, threats of destruction due to urban development plans, and the deterioration of monuments due to lack of maintenance and responsible management, as well as of the disastrous impact of tourism on the protection of monuments. “The US delegate was opposed to Jordan making the proposal.  He stressed that a property must be situated in the territories of the nominating State and, in the opinion of his government; Jordan had no standing to make such a nomination.  Furthermore, the consent of Israel would be required since it effectively controlled Jerusalem.”  After discussion, the Committee decided, by 14 votes for, 1 against (USA) and 5 abstentions, to inscribe the "Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls" on the List of World Heritage in Danger. 
The Judaization of Jerusalem:
Judaization is a form of ethnic and theological cleansing that Israel employs to create the conditions necessary for the survival of an exclusive Jewish theocracy. In simple terms, it is an Israeli policy aimed at reducing the number of Arabs (Christians and Moslems) in Israel as well as in parts of the occupied Palestinian Territories in order to ensure Jewish majority against a negligible Arab minority. Judaization, therefore, goes hand in hand with de-Arabization of both Christians and Moslems.  It is believed that the idea of Judaization was the brainchild of Yosef Nahmani (Nachmani), one of the originators of “the redemption of the land” and head of the Karen Keymeth (The Jewish National Fund) in  eastern Galilee from1935 and until his death in 1965. Nahmani stressed the need to create a Jewish majority in the Galilee to reduce "the Arab threat" and prevent the formation of "a nucleus of Arab nationalism within the Jewish state”.  Moreover, the Judaization policy was intensely advocated and enacted in order to ensure that there could be no serious discussion of returning any of the lands earmarked for an Arab state by the United Nations to Arab control. In a letter written in 1953 to David Ben Gurion, Nahmani wrote:

“Though western Galilee has now been occupied, it still has not been freed of its Arab population, as happened in other parts of the country.  There are still fifty one villages and the city of Nazareth whose inhabitants have not left, in all there are 84,002 Arabs, not counting Acre, controlling 929,549 dunums of the land.”[15]

As far back as December 1947, and with callous disregard to UN resolution 181 that calls for the internationalization of Jerusalem, Ben Gurion, stated that “Jerusalem had to become the scientific, educational, cultural, and artistic center of the Jewish people”, and that the Jewish population in the city and its environs had to be increased and strengthened economically”[16] In 1967, Ben Gurion went on to say:

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.” [17]

After the capture of East Jerusalem in 1967, Moshe Dayan, then Israeli Defense Minister declared “The Israeli Defense Forces have liberated Jerusalem. We have reunited the torn city, the capital of Israel…never to part from it again.” The belligerency of Israel’s rhetoric on Jerusalem was always evident even when it was presumably talking peace.  On March 20, 1979, six days before the signing of Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty Menachem Begin, the prime minister of Israel then, declared to the Israeli Knesset that the scope of the treaty recognizes:

1- That Israel would never pull back to its borders of 4 June 1967
2- That Jerusalem, one and unified, would remain for eternity the capital of Israel
3- That there will never be a Palestinian State in Judea and Samaria

It is not surprising, therefore, to see Israel’s relentless and tireless attempts to Judaize, de-Arabize and integrate Jerusalem into the state of Israel.  These attempts were and still are manifested through legislative, administrative, military, as well as physical intimidating “facts on the ground” measures.   A glaring example of such attempts is the 1968 “Master Plan” for the city of Jerusalem, which noted that:

“The majority of the [expanded] municipal land reserves that are amenable to [Israeli-Jewish] development are in private [Palestinian] hands. The effective development of the city will require the expropriation of substantial areas.”
Prior to the 1968 plan, there was the first Israeli master plan for Jerusalem, which was developed as early as 1950.  Arieh Sharon, one of Israel’s founding architects, noted:
“The Jerusalem Masterplan, prepared by the Planning Department in 1950, attempted to find an organic solution to the different urban problems and to help the city serve its main functions as the political and cultural capital of Israel. The hills in the centre were expropriated and designated as the location for the Parliament, Government Ministries, Hebrew University and Israel Museum. The Judean hills west of the city were added to the municipal area for the erection of new residential neighborhoods. It was proposed that a new commercial centre should be established on the western city entrance and several industrial zones on the outskirts. For the green belts and open spaces, Jerusalem offered a natural solution: all wadis ravines and valleys between the hills on which the city stands were designated as parks, with green strips separating the neighborhoods.”

It is evident how Israel’s plans to systematically Judaize Jerusalem started as early as 1947. These plans have not stopped since then, and they have been gaining astonishing momentum and steam over the past few decades. As mentioned earlier, the relentless efforts at Judaizing Jerusalem
were more clearly evident after 1967.

Immediately after its illegal conquest of the West Bank in the 1967, Israel carried out a series of measures in the Old City of Jerusalem and its environs that were aimed at changing the character of the City.  Tipping the demographic balance in favor of the Jewish population has always been one of Israel’s top Judaizing maneuvers. 

Today, Israel continues to employ a variety of interrelated policies and tactics in its plans to Judaize Jerusalem.  These tactics include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Demographic manipulation
  • Illegal settlement building
  • Expropriation of Palestinian land
  • Demolition of Palestinian homes
  • Revocation of Palestinian residency rights
  • Building of “The Apartheid Wall”
  • Isolation of Jerusalem
  • Encroachment of the Hebrew Language on East Jerusalem

Demographic manipulation:

It is safe to say that demography is the main driving force behind Israel’s Judaizing policies manifested in settlement building, land expropriation, revocation of residency rights, apartheid wall sanctioning, and others.  Israel’s main target in Jerusalem has always been to achieve demographic superiority in favor of the Jewish population. 
Jerusalem’s conquest by the Zionists took place in two waves and so did its Judaization.  The first wave was between December 1947 and June 1967 when Israel occupied the western side of the city, which included the upscale districts of Upper and Lower Baq’a, Talbiyya, Qatamon, Mamilla, and Shama’a, and others. During the first two years, a combination of fear and intimidation campaigns carried out by terrorist organizations such as the Haganah coupled with Israeli military orders led to the transfer of almost the entire Palestinian population out of Western Jerusalem into areas where they could seek shelter in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Jordan.  The number of Palestinians who were subject to this forced evacuation is estimated at 70,000 persons.  Israel confiscated close to 10,000 urban homes and about 35km2 of land (equal to 60-80% of Israeli municipal Jerusalem after 1948), and allocated it to its Jewish population.[18] In 1946 the population of Jerusalem was divided between 99,000 Jews and 65,000 Arabs.  By 1948 the population in West Jerusalem was 83,000 Jews and 1,000 Palestinians (Arabs).[19] The Western and Eastern sides of the city were then almost completely devoid of Arabs and Jews respectively.  By the end of 1948, the city lauded over the centuries for its ethnic diversity and temporal tolerance became bitterly and militarily divided across religious and ethnic lines.
Immediately after its conquest of the West Bank in 1967, Israel conducted on July 25, 1967 a conniving census aimed at altering the demographic make up of the conquered eastern part of Jerusalem. Palestinians who were not recorded due to their absence at the time of the census lost their right of return to their homes.  Their property was turned over to the Israeli Custodian of Absentee Property, who in turn and according to Military order No. 150 (1968) could expropriate these properties.  East Jerusalem became illegally and against all human rights conventions, subject to the Israeli “Absentees’ Property Law of 1950”, which is a major component of a system of Israeli land laws designed, under a legal guise, to expropriate Palestinian land, and to bar restitution of confiscated land to its Palestinian owners.

The Master Plan of Jerusalem is another instrument through which the make up of the population is manipulated in favor of the Jews. The Jerusalem Master Plan 2000, which was ratified by Jerusalem Municipality in 2007, aims at stopping the Palestinian population from growing beyond 40%.  This is an increase form the earlier balance set of 70 percent Jewish and 30% Palestinians. Currently, the population ratio is 64 percent Jewish to 36 percent Palestinian.
Between 1967 and 2013 the population of Jerusalem tripled in number from 266,300 to 829,790, and it almost doubled from 1980 to 2013. The Muslim population grew by 136 percent from 125,000 in 1988 to 295,000 in 2013. The Jewish population grew by 44 percent from 354,000 in 1988 to 522,000 in 2013.  Over 200,000 illegal Jewish settlers out of the 522,000 Jewish population live in East Jerusalem.  The Christian population remained stagnant at 15,000 levels. This is a sharp drop from the 45,000 Christians recorded in 1947.
Projections for Jerusalem in the year 2020 show the city’s total population at 958,000 inhabitants with 61.2 percent Jewish (587,200) and 38.8 percent Arab.  Porfessor Eyal Weizman, an Israeli architect writes:

 trying to achieve the demographic and geographic guidelines of the 
political master plan, the planners and architects of the municipality
 of Jerusalem and those working for them have effectively taken part in
 a national policy of forced migration, unofficially referred to in
 Israeli circles as the “silent transfer,” a crime according to
international law.2 The evidence of these crimes is not only to be found in protocols or in
 the wording of political master plans, but in the drawings of
 architects and planners. They can be seen as lines in their plans.3 Yet
 remarkably, in spite of all Israel’s efforts to keep the 28 per cent 
Palestinians to 72 percent Jewish ratio, its planning policy is falling
 short of its target. Out of the 650,000 registered residents of
Jerusalem in 2005, about a third were Palestinians. This has obviously
 increased the frustration that further accelerates Israel’s draconian

Illegal settlements and outposts:

Settlements are illegal under international law.  Today 35% of the unilaterally Israeli-defined municipal area of East Jerusalem has been illegally designated for settlement use. 

Israel has built a massive network of settlements in and around Jerusalem.  The positioning of these settlements is carefully selected in order to manipulate the make up of the City demographically and geographically.  In essence they are colonizing tools used for gerrymandering as well as for creating facts on the grounds aimed at strengthening the Jewish historical narrative of Jerusalem.  Moreover, the geographic position of the settlements “cuts off Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and divides into separate northern and southern parts, thus impacting severely on the contiguity of a future Palestinian state and Jerusalem’s potential as a future capital of two states” 
There are currently some 133 settlements in the West Bank, of which 10% is in  East Jerusalem. (This is following Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from all of the settlements in Gaza and four settlements in a portion of the northern West Bank). In addition to the settlements, roughly 100 “illegal outposts” exist in the West Bank, many of which lack formal government and planning approval, but which nevertheless have been established with some degree of Israeli governmental support. There are approximately 250,000 settlers living in the West Bank, excluding those in East Jerusalem. This is roughly twice the 126,900 settlers who lived in the West Bank at the time of the Oslo Accords. Civil Administration, estimates that nearly one-third of the land incorporated into the settlement jurisdictions is private land owned by Palestinians.
There are an estimated 210,000 Israeli settlers living in East Jerusalem, alongside 300,000 Palestinians.  The Israeli presence in East Jerusalem is spread over the following settelelmtns and areas in East Jerusalem:

 Talpiot (East)
Settlement in E. Jerusalem
 French Hill (Giv'at Shapira)
Settlement in E. Jerusalem
Settlement in E. Jerusalem
 Giv'at Hamivtar
Settlement in E. Jerusalem
 Giv'at Hamatos

Settlement in E. Jerusalem
 Har Homa
Settlement in E. Jerusalem
 Ma'alot Dafna
Settlement in E. Jerusalem
 Neve Ya'akov / Atarot
Settlement in E. Jerusalem
 Pisgat Ze'ev
Settlement in E. Jerusalem
 Ramat EshkolS
Settlement in E. Jerusalem
 Ramat Shlomo
Settlement in E. Jerusalem
 Jewish Quarter

Settlement in E. Jerusalem
 Ramot Alon

Settlement in E. Jerusalem
 City of David

Settlement in E. Jerusalem



During 2014 alone, the Israeli government approved the building of 2610 housing units in Givat Hamatos, the first new Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem since construction of Har Homa settlement in the 1990s.  The Municipality also approved building permits for 186 housing units in Pisgat Zeev and in Har Homa C.  Tenders were issued for 708 units at Gilo.  The year also witnessed a number of Palestinian homes take over by Israeli colonial settlers in Silwan, where 500 heavily protected Israeli illegal settlers intimidate and antagonize 20,000 Palestinians live there. Silwan is today slated for the extension of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. 

Another dangerous development in the settlement policies of Israel in Jerusalem are the plans for Palestinian population transfer from the area known as E1 to the town of Nuweima north of Jericho.  The government of Israel is currently studying several plans submitted for the construction of Nuweima.  E1 plan “would effectively complete a crescent of Israeli settlements around East Jerusalem dividing it from the rest of the West Bank and its Palestinian population centres, and create a continuous Jewish population between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim. It would also nearly bisect the West Bank jeopardizing the prospects of a contiguous Palestinian state.”[21]

During the “Conference of High Contracting Parties To The Fourth Geneva Convention”, UNRWA expressed concern at theThe threatened forcible displacement E1 of approximately 7,000 Palestinians in the Jerusalem periphery, many of whom are Bedouin registered as UNRWA refugees. In addition to threatening traditional livelihoods and culture, forcible transfer of protected persons from land under occupation would represent a breach of international humanitarian law.[22]  Incidentally Israel and USA exerted pressure on Switzerland not to hold this Summit on Palestinians.[23]

Expropriation of Palestinian land:

Israel has expropriated 35 percent of East Jerusalem’s surface territory (about 24.5 km2), targeted for Jewish settlements and neighborhoods expansion.   Today more than 86% of the land area of (expanded) East Jerusalem, as defined by the City’s municipal boundaries has been expropriated without compensation.
In addition to land expropriation, the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem uses urban planning as a tool for Judaizing Jerusalem and for achieving its geopolitical objectives. Only 13 percent of Palestinian lands in East Jerusalem is allocated for Palestinian use. 35 percent is expropriated for Israeli settlements, 22 percent is zoned as Green Areas for public use (Which almost always means reserved for settlement building), and 30 percent is entirely without a plan.[24]
Demolition of Palestinian homes:

Demolition of homes and buildings by an Occupying Power is illegal.  Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention[25] states:

Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”

Demolitions in Jerusalem are carried out under various pretexts.  They are one of the main tools applied to drive the Palestinians out of Jerusalem.  Demolitions are usually carried out for lack of Israeli building permits, or as a punitive measure as part of an illegal collective punishment tactics.  In many cases, Palestinian homeowners opt to carry out the demolitions themselves in order to avoid paying exorbitant costs of the demolish.

According to late Rawhi Khatib, the last Palestinian mayor of East Jerusalem before its illegal occupation by Israel in 1967, less than a week after the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel started systemized demolitions of Palestinian homes inside and outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. Israel was quick to demolish the Moroccan Quarter or neighborhood in the Old City, which at the time included 2 mosques, 135 homes inhabited by 650 Palestinians. A Plastics factory near the Armenian Quarter was demolished, leaving 200 of its workers out of work.  Around 200 hundred homes were also razed in the vicinity of the Noble Sanctuary.[26] The illegal measure of punitive demolitions was also at work around that time with the Israeli military demolishing 24 homes under the pretext of punishing members of Palestinian resistance movements.  In 1969, Israel civil authorities demolished 14 worship and antiquity homes, including a mosque near the Bab Maghribeh, and the Zawiyya Fakhriyya, for the sake of exploration around the “Buraq Wall” or what is known as the Western Wall.[27]  All of these demolitions resulted in the displacement of at least 1,000 Palestinians during the late 1960s.  Many of the residents of the Moroccan Neighborhood had ties with Morocco and they went back there.  Others ended up in Shu‘fat Refugee Camp and elsewhere in Jerusalem.

Since 1967 the number of Palestinian homes that have been demolished exceeds 2000 homes. This means an average of 45 homes per year, 4 homes per month, and one home per week.  According to UN (OCHAOPT ) at least a third of the Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem lack Israeli-issued building permits, potentially placing over 90,000 residents at risk of displacement.

Revocation of Palestinian residency rights:

Palestinian East Jerusalemites are issued residency status in Jerusalem which gives them a different status form the rest of the Palestinians in the West Bank. 
Since 1967 at least 14,000 Palestinians had their Jerusalem residency revoked by the Israeli authorities. The Israeli authorities may revoke Palestinian identity cards if its holder fails to prove that Jerusalem is his/her “Center of Life”, a highly subjective and non-transparent criteria that Palestinians are subjected to in fending for their residency rights in Jerusalem.  Other pretexts for stripping Jerusalemites of their identity cards include  living outside Jerusalem for seven consecutive years, obtaining  another nationality, and or registering as a resident of another country.  “According to these cases, various studies estimate that the number of Palestinian Jerusalemites who have lost their identity cards has now reached about 50,000-60,000. All are either deported from the city of Jerusalem or kept out of it.”[28]  The official figure of the Israeli Ministry of Interior show that between 1967 and 2013 Israel revoked the residency status of 14,309 Palestinians from East Jerusalem.  In 2013 alone, Israel revoked the residency of 106 East Jerusalemites.

Israel plans to introduce electronic-biometric cards as well as expiry dates on the ID cards.  These measures are seen by many Palestinians as an attempt by Israel to drive even more Palestinians out of Jerusalem.

The “Apartheid Wall”. The Fence. The Wall.  Israel’s Separation Barrier. The “Berlin Wall”:

The plan to build a “separation fence” (Apartheid Wall hereinafter) in the West Bank (with Israel) was announced by Ariel Sharon then Prime Minister of Israel on April 14, 2002.  The Apartheid Wall is best described as a link in a chain of colonial measures whose aim, to borrow Peter Beinart’s words, is to create: “a relentless assault on the lives of Palestinians to immiserate them to such an extent that they flee.”

The entire route of the wall is more than twice the size of the Green line and is approximately 700 kilometers, out of which more than 500 kilometers have been built.  Its total cost so far is estimated at $2.6 billion, with $260 the cost of annual maintenance.

In the Jerusalem area the Apartheid Wall is 168 kilometers long.  The overriding consideration in planning its route was settlement expansion.  As it stands today, the Wall integrates 12 Israeli settlements into Jerusalem’s unilaterally defined municipal boundaries as well as the Jewish settlements beyond the municipal boundary such as Ma’ale Adumim (located in the West Bank).  On the other hand, the route of the Apartheid Wall has left a number of Palestinian communities considered within East Jerusalem municipal boundaries at the side of the West Bank of the border, with serious negative impacts on the lives of at least 70,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem (out of the estimated 300,000) Palestinians living there.  The wall in effect has managed to physically alienate 30% of Jerusalem’s Palestinian constituency, leading to its final Judization.

In July 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled in an advisory opinion that the construction of the wall violates international law.  This ruling must now be added to Israel’s list of voluminous violations of international laws and human right conventions.

Haim Ramon, an ex minister and member of the Israeli Knesset stated, “[The Wall] also makes [Jerusalem] more Jewish. The safer and more Jewish Jerusalem will be, it can serve as a true capital of the state of Israel.” Asked about the Palestinian neighborhoods that would be isolated by the Wall, Mr. Ramon said: “I don’t think anybody is sorry about this.”[29]

Isolation of Jerusalem:

Between the Apartheid Wall and the ring of settlements that is carefully built around Jerusalem, the City is now geographically severed from its natural West Bank hinterland.  A trip between Jerusalem and Bethlehem that would normally take fifteen minutes is now undertaken through a network of make do roads and the infamous dangerous road known as “Wadi Nar”.  The traditional metropolitan area of Jerusalem, a corridor of 30 kilometers running from Ramallah in the north to Bethlehem in the south, has been completely disrupted by the settlements and the Wall. This corridor has traditionally accounted for 35% of the Palestinian national economy.[30]
 Approximately four million Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territory are prohibited from entering Jerusalem without Israeli-issued permits, which are difficult to obtain. Since the early days of the Israeli military occupation of East Jerusalem, Israel controlled entry to Jerusalem through military and police checkpoints at all access points to Jerusalem.  Today there are 16 wall check points controlling every entrance point to Jerusalem.  For Palestinian residents of the West Bank access to Jerusalem is restricted to four checkpoints: Gilo, Qalandiya, Shufat, and Zeytoun. 

The isolation of Jerusalem affects the access of Palestinians to Christian and Moslem religious sites.  The Israeli hasbara loves to show and even romanticize how the City of Jerusalem is a place of religious freedom and diversity with unhindered access to the different holy places, while in fact it is the embodiment of Israel’s colonial separatist policies aiming at achieving Jewish theological dominance over the City of Jerusalem.  Two million West Bank Palestinians living under Israeli military rule need special and hard-to-get permits to enter Jerusalem, let alone the Aqsa compound or any of the quarters of the Old City.  Entrance to the Al-Aqsa compound is often restricted to all Palestinians, residents and non-residents of Jerusalem. In addition police and settlers have a heavy presence in the Old City, turning it into a place of heightened tension and intimidation.

Encroachment of the Hebrew Language on East Jerusalem:

In December 2010, the municipality of Jerusalem issued a municipal decision forcing shop-owners in East Jerusalem to add Hebrew text to their shop signs, and mandating that the Hebrew text should take up at least half of the total space of the sign.  Given the importance of language in asserting a narrative over another, streets names in East Jerusalem were also altered from their original Arabic names to Jewish / Hebrew ones.  In light of all of Israel’s violations and abuses of international law, this hebraization and Judaization of names might seem trivial.  However, it is probably one of the most important aspects of erasing the memory of the place, and in disconnecting the past from the present.  Judaizing names validates Israel’s narrative that weaves a concocted reality aimed at monopolizing its presence in Jerusalem while excluding all other residents there.

In a show that cannot be described but one of arrogance and contempt, and in the midst of heightened tensions between Palestinians and Jews in Jerusalem, the Jerusalem City Council, approved in September 2015 the decision to name 30 roads in East Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods with Hebrew names.  “The Hebrew street names will appear in Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah, A-Tur, Ras al-Amud and the area around Damascus Gate. The names will include Biblical references and names highlighting Jewish connections to the area.


It may be called the holy city, but over the past few decades, Zionists have desecrated Jerusalem in the name of this very sanctity.  The city of peace is now the city of the colonized, dispossessed and occupied.  Over the past seven decades Jerusalem has been subject to a systematic, ruthless and audacious Judaization process, which started in earnest in 1948 with one end in mind: to alter the demographic and geographic character of the city.  The ultimate objective of this alteration was, and still is, to establish demographic superiority of Jews over Palestinians, and to keep Jerusalem as one single and indivisible administration unit governed by Israel. 

Over the past thousands of years Jerusalem changed hands more than 25 times, suffered more than 20 sieges, was destroyed seventeen times, and its inhabitants were massacred on several occasions.  Imagine the absurdity if all of those who once conquered Jerusalem went back claiming title by virtue of their presence there once upon thousands of years ago. Well, this is exactly what Israel is doing.

Even though the Jewish rule in Jerusalem ended in 587 BCE (when the Babylonians destroyed the Kingdom of Judah), the Jews today cite biblical arguments to justify their presence there.  They use their rule over Jerusalem two thousand and five hundred years ago as an absurd pretext to “exhume a Jewish state from the dust of history". 
As Henry Cattan explains “Israel’s claim of an historic right to Jerusalem is nothing but a gigantic bluff by which the Zionist Jews have succeeded in deceiving world opinion”.   Over the past several decades, all Judaization measures taken in Jerusalem fall at the heart of creating new facts  on the ground aimed at justifying this 'bluff'. 

Apart from the absurdity of Israel's divine and biblical claim to Jerusalem, Israel is violating a slew of international laws and human rights conventions in forcing its illegal presence in and control over Jerusalem.  The most obvious violations are those concerning the  "Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict", the 4th Geneva Convention, and a number of UN resolutions addressing the "Question of Jerusalem".  Annual reports by Heads Of European Missions on East Jerusalem repeatedly allude to these violations and warn that “The increasing integration of East Jerusalem into Israel has left Palestinian neighbourhoods ever more isolated. Israel is, by legal and practical means, actively pursuing its annexation by systematically undermining the Palestinian presence in the city”. 

Finally, I strongly believe that in order to have any meaningful discussion of the status of Jerusalem, it must cover all matters pertaining to the modern conquest of the entire city, east and west.  Confining the talk to East Jerusalem only serves at ignoring the wrongs that have led to Israel’s de facto occupation and annexation of West Jerusalem in 1948.  Moreover, one must remain mindful of the fact that the distinction between East and West Jerusalem is as artificial as  Israel’s claims of sovereignty over the City.  Today, all of Jerusalem, East and West, is illegally occupied and annexed.  As Henry Cattan puts it in his book “The Question Of Jerusalem”:

"Although the [UN] Security Council and the General Assembly became more vocal since 1967 in condemning the measures taken by Israel to change the legal status of Jerusalem and in proclaiming their invalidity, there can be no doubt that on legal or logical grounds there exists no difference, in regard to their illegality and invalidity, between the measures taken by Israel in modern Jerusalem in 1948 and those [taken] in the Old City in 1967

In the course of writing this essay it occurred to me how much we need to be reminded of the idea, for sure promulgated by the Zionists, that “The old (Palestinians) will die and the young will forget” (The origin of this quote is unknown – falsely attributed to Ben Gurion).  It is the moral and ethical duty of every caring and responsible Palestinian and human being to never forget, and to work in whatever capacity there is to support the Palestinian cause.  There are countless ways in which one could support ending the illegal presence of the Zionist colonial occupation and presence in Palestine. I would suggest supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.  I would also suggest seriously looking into supporting (and subscribing to) all the institutions that are working on preserving our history and heritage such as the Institute of Palestine Studies, or the Jerusalem Quarterly publication, the soon to be opened Palestinian Museum, or performing art organisations teaching music and dance such as  Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, and Ibda Cultural Center…The list is endless.  And of course the simplest way of all is by educating ourselves about the history of Palestine, and by never ceasing to remind the world, through talking, writing, photographing, filming, singing, cooking, baking, whatever it takes, of the truth about the injustices being committed in Palestine, and the misery of the Palestinian people in their own homeland.

[1] Jerusalem Quarterly Vol 45, p. 61 Said, Edward "Edward Said’s Lost Essay on Jerusalem"
[2] United Nations Resolution 181. The boundaries were restated in article 8 of UN Resolution 194 of December 11, 1948, as well as other UN documents such as UN Doc. A11245, December 10, 1949.
[3] Annex B of UN resolution 181 explicitly states that: “The City of Jerusalem shall include the present municipality of Jerusalem plus the surrounding villages and towns, the most eastern of which shall bebe Abu Dis; the most southern, Bethlehem; the most western, Ein Karim (including also the built-up area of Motsa); and the most northern Shu'fat, (annex B).
[5] Between 1922 and 1936 the Jewish population in Palestine grew from about 86,000 to 400,000.
[6] In 2011 Jerusalem’s population was estimated at 800,000 of which 64% were Jews and 36% were Arabs.
[7] Journal of Palestine Studies Vol 21, no. 1 (Aut. 91): pp. 5–16. Khalidi, Walid "The Palestine Problem: An Overview"
[8] Description taken from MERIP Report on Palestine
[9] In 1948 and at the time of the official cease-fire, Moshe Dayan sat with Abdallah Tell and UN mediators, slicing up Jerusalem. Using a map scaled at 1:20,000, each side used a different coloured wax pen to delineate the furthest point under its control. Israel drew a red line and Jordan a green line. This is the origin of the phrase used to describe land that is “behind the green line.” In many places the two lines converged. In addition, as the wax of the China graphic pens dried, the coloured ink lines spread out until they coved two millimetres of the map which equaled 200 meters. The drying ink caused a delicate problem as to where the exact boundaries were. For example, part of the neighbourhood of Musrara remained in a deadlock until an agreement was reached in July 1951. (
[10] According to Merriam Webster online dictionary the meaning of armistice is “a temporary suspension of hostilities by agreement between the opponents: A truce."
[11] Flapan, Simha, 1987,  The Birth of Israel: Myths And Realities; Pantheon Books, New York, page 150 
[12] Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. 1, no. 1 (August 91): pp. 5–16. Khalidi, Walid "The Palestine Problem: An Overview".
[14] “The Status of Jerusalem in International Law -
[15] Jiryis, Sabri, 1976, The Arabs in Israel; Monthly Review Press, New York and London (p. 105)
[16] Flapan, Simha, 1987, The Birth of Israel: Myths And Realities; Pantheon Books, New York;  (p.32)
[17] Uzi Binyamin, City Without a Wall (Shocken, 1973), p. 2.

[20] Journal of Palestine Studies Issue 38 p. 17. Eyal Weizman"Demographic architecture".
[25] The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, commonly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It was adopted in August 1949, and defines humanitarian protections for civilians in a war zone.
[26] Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, sometimes referred to as the Noble Sanctuary (“Haram al-Sharif” in Arabic), is the compound that contains Al Aqsa building itself, ablution fountains, open spaces for prayer, monuments and the Dome of the Rock building. This entire area enclosed by the walls which spans 144 dunums (almost 36 acres), forms the Mosque. Sacred to approximately 1.6  billion Muslims around the world, and a symbol for all Palestinians, the Mosque has been under exclusive Muslim sovereignty and control since the construction of the Dome of the Rock in 692 CE. As such, any entrance to the Al Aqsa Mosque must be agreed and coordinated by the Muslim Waqf.

[27] A report published in December 1930 by the Commission appointed by the United Kingdom government to determine the rights and claims of Moslems and Jews in connection with the Western or Wailing Wall at Jerusalem found that “it [The Wall] is legally the absolute property of the Moslem community and the strip of pavement facing it is Waqf property, as is shown by documents preserved by the Guardian of the Waqf.” (UN General Assembly S/8427/Add.1 23 February 1968)