Jerusalem Can Never Be Taken Off The Table

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Above photo: People attend a demonstration at Pariser Platz, against U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in Berlin, Germany on December 8, 2017. Erbil Başay

 

In a recent interview with Helena Cobban hosted by the Institute for Palestine Studies, Dr. Rashid Khalidi, the founder of the Journal of Palestine Studies, states that the recent declaration by the United States regarding Jerusalem has brought the Jerusalem issue again to the table.  Jerusalem is again gaining more attention internationally and activists in the US and Europe are protesting continuously the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem in recognition of the city as the capital of Israel.  The actions of the of US is also unmasking the intimate relationship with Israel and the undemocratic Arab countries in the Middle East.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman signed a decision to close Elia Youth Media Foundation and classified it as a terrorist organization.  Ahmad Safadi who is the director of the foundation, believes this is an Israeli attempt to silence the voice of truth in the city of Jerusalem, there is no justification for the closure.

According to the recent Weekly Settlement Report written by Madeeha Araj of National Bureau for Defending Land and Resisting Settlement, the policy of Judaization and silent confiscation of lands practiced by Israeli government increased after the Oslo Accord of 1993 and has intensified in the last two years, especially with the election of President Donald Trump.  The Israeli Knesset passed the law of ”Entry into Israel” in 2017, which allows the Israeli Minister of interior to revoke the status of “Permanent resident” from those living in Jerusalem who do not hold Israeli citizenship.  This amendment specifically targets Palestinian citizens of occupied Jerusalem who don’t hold Israeli citizenship.  Israeli occupation has for years been granting Palestinians living and marrying Jerusalemites Permanent Resident status without obtaining Israeli Citizenship.  The law is part of the policy of increasing restrictions on Jerusalemites and the annexation of occupied Jerusalem.  These laws and decisions of the Israeli occupation are contrary to international law which prohibits the annexation of occupied land.  As part of the policy of Israeli occupation based on the displacement of Palestinians, the Israeli Peace Now movement revealed that the Israeli district committee recently discussed four settlements schemes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Occupied East Jerusalem which is primarily Arab Palestinians.

In the context of the cooperation between the Ministry of the Judiciary of the Occupation and the settlement organizations, Gorenfikel has been appointed on behalf of the General in the Ministry of Education who is an activist in the (Jewish House Party) who calls for the Judaization of Jerusalem.  He has also called for the expulsion of Arab Students studying in Takhnon to the Gaza Strip.  Gorenfikel lives in a Jewish settlement in the center of (Jabal Mukaber) and is directly responsible for a series of evictions of Palestinian families and handing over their homes to Jewish settlement groups.

There are also laws that allow for Jews to come to Palestine and claim property through settlement association, while preventing Arab Palestinians from coming back to reclaim homes they abandoned in the 1948 war.

The Elad settlement association unveiled 11 new settlement projects approved in 2017 and 2018, which will be implemented by various companies. Among the projects to be operated by the association is a huge tourism project called (Omega Skiing), as well as a restaurant near the historic walls of occupied Jerusalem. On the other hand , the settlement council (Matte Benjamin) spent an estimated NIS 6 million ($1.6 million) and 460 thousand shekels ($128,000) in illegal projects in its outposts between 2013 and 2015 including the construction of gardens and the developments of mobile buildings, the establishment of youth clubs and paving roads and cross roads of the settlement outposts where most of the construction projects were built on confiscated land without building permits and illegally.  The source of the funds spent by the settlement council was not based on donations from settlers, but on grants from the Israeli occupation government.

Madeeha Araj stresses that the polices and practices carried out by the occupation authorities have affected the lives of Palestinians, where they are harassed by settlers and searched at military checkpoints.  How long will the international community remain silent on the escalating Israeli policies of Judaization Jerusalem, Hebron, and the West Bank?  For how long will the confiscation of land, demolition of homes, and the enactment of laws that deprive the Palestinians of their rights and their land continue?