By: Tayseer Khaled/ Ramallah/
Jerusalem had and still have a great political, historical and spiritual status in Palestine, it had no special legal status until the 1947 partition resolution no. 181, which for the first time presented the concept of “Corpus Separatum” that included Jerusalem and its surrounding towns and villages. The resolution recognized the importance of Jerusalem for the believers of the 3 monotheistic religions, which was reaffirmed by resolution 185 on the protection of Jerusalem and its inhabitants, and the UN’s Mediator for Palestine, Count Folk Bernadotte report’s, who presented recommendations for carrying out the resolution, the nominating of a municipal commission and establishing of a conciliation committee to implement those resolutions, which were shortly adopted following his assassination in resolution no. 303 on Dec. 9th, 1949.
Not only those resolutions were not implemented, but also the Jewish forces occupied West Jerusalem including 8 Arab neighborhoods while the British Mandate’s troops were withdrawing from Palestine. Jordan managed to keep East Jerusalem, including the Old City under its control. However, the eastern part of the city became part of the West Bank affiliated to the Jordanian Hashemite Kingdom. That remained until 1989, when Jordan announced disengagement from the West Bank.
In the aftermath of the 1967 war, Israeli forces occupied the entire city including the rest of the West Bank, thus Israel started changing the legal and field situation of the city. The first step disclosed that it would apply the Israeli law and administration on East Jerusalem under the Israeli municipal law. It also took a number of administrative steps to implement its policy, first, through expanding the municipality’s borders randomly to include land and to exclude as many Palestinians as possible. Second, the issuing blue identity cards to the residents of Jerusalem that differ from the orange cards issued by the military government in the rest of the West areas..
The international community condemned and rejected such procedures in Jerusalem, but little attention was given until the 1980, when Israeli Knesset approved the Basic Law, which declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and officially annexed East Jerusalem. In response to that, the UN General Assembly as well as the Security Council reconfirmed the International Law that refuses to annex the territory of others by force, asserting in a number of resolutions that East Jerusalem is an integral part of the West Bank and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and express their rejection of all unilateral Israeli actions on Jerusalem. Despite the USA’s official approval of this law, it vetoed a number of resolutions that would have led to solid action against Israel for violating the international law.
Israel began to judaize the Jerusalem city in order to create a Jewish majority in it through preventing construction work for the Palestinians under various pretexts, implementation of some administrative measures aimed at radically changing the situation on the ground, giving Jerusalemites blue identity cards, not Israeli nationality, and carrying out large number of administrative measures to minimize the Palestinian presence in East Jerusalem.
Moreover, Israel has completely ignored the International Law due to the “non-existence of an executive body at the UN that abides Israel by the International Law, believing that sooner or later the international community will have to accept the fait accompli and that the Palestinians in the city will accept the new reality. The West Bank including East Jerusalem is controlled by some 450 control sites, 158 settlements, of which 29 are in occupied Jerusalem and 250 are military outposts, providing security for settlements and settlers.
Israel has also used the laws of organization and construction to reduce and control population growth around the Old City, and to limit Arab expansion through naming 40% of East Jerusalem as green areas, but in fact, they considered them as a strategic reserve area for building settlements, leaving residents to build without a permit or to migrate to areas adjacent to the Jerusalem municipality.
Then, the Apartheid Wall in July 2003 that boosted Israeli control on the city starting from Bitunia to the Kalandia Refugee Camp in the east, and from the entrance of Bethlehem in the west to the town of Beit Sahour in the east. Then Israel specified the route of the wall in other sites surrounding the city that started from Beit Sahour to Al-Azariya and from Anata to Qalandia Refugee Camp.
The wall isolates 152,918 dunums of Jerusalem’s land, and includes 24 Israeli settlements within the borders of Jerusalem. One of its construction’s goals is to expand the boundaries of the occupied Jerusalem municipality to control more than 10% of the area of the West Bank. In Jerusalem, the area of the municipality is being extended to include a circle of about 30 km in the framework of the Greater Jerusalem Plan that extends from the borders of the city of Ramallah to Bethlehem.
The Greater Jerusalem Plan aims to make the Jerusalem metropolitan area of more than 600 sq. km, or about 10 percent of the West Bank, that constitutes a barrier between the south and north of the West Bank, extending Jerusalem to the outskirts of the Jericho area.
Jerusalem’s Current Situation:
By the end of 2016, the population of Jerusalem is 885,000, of which 62% are Jews and 38% are Arab. The number of Arabs in East Jerusalem is 327,700, compared to 214,600 settlers until the end of 2016. In West Jerusalem, the number of settlers is 335,500, and 4,700 are Arabs.
According to Israeli standards, 79% of Jerusalemites are living below the poverty line. The occupation authorities have demolished more than 5,000 houses and structures in East Jerusalem since its occupation in 1967, and more than 14,500 Jerusalemites’ identity cards have been withdrawn. The number of those affected by the withdrawal of the identities has reached to 100,000 Jerusalemites.
Now, in light of this reading of the situation in Jerusalem, how to read the US president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel, and his decision to transfer US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The decision is contrary to the policies and positions of 12 former US presidents – from Harry Truman to Barack Obama in 17. It contravenes the scores of UN resolutions, beginning with the partition resolution of 1947 to resolution 2334. It is contrary to all US commitments to the peace process and contrary to international law, and the US obligations as a superpower and its responsibility for international peace and security. It constitutes a dangerous precedent in international relations by imposing the logic of force and the law of the jungle instead of international law and international legitimacy.
The resolution also encourages Israeli plans in Jerusalem as the Palestinians in Jerusalem denied citizenship rights, but the right to “permanent residency,” which is a conditional right that can be taken at any given moment, and periodically subject to scrutiny and monitoring by various bodies including the Ministry of the Interior, the municipality and the security services. The plans also encourage ethnic cleansing, which are sometimes carried out silently through forced restrictions, such as, displacement, preventing construction, birth registration, family reunification, poor services, Israeliting of education, and property control.
Despite of all the policies of ethnic cleansing, the number of Palestinian citizens in the city is still about 320,000 i.e. about 37% of the total population of the west and east Jerusalem. There are plans to remove about 100,000 Palestinians from the municipal borders e.g Shu’fat Camp, and some densely populated neighborhoods, such as, Jabal Mukaber, and to bring in some 150,000 settlers, with the aim of turning the Palestinians in Jerusalem into a minority not exceed 15% of the population.
Moreover, the Greater Jerusalem Plan transforms Palestinian communities into isolated enclaves, such as, Al-‘Eizariya and Abu Dis neighborhoods. That might include the city of Bethlehem and its surroundings if the Greater Jerusalem Plan extends to the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. The only remaining way to connect the Palestinian communities together is the tunnel networks that Ariel Sharon already referred to in commenting on President George W. Bush’s condition when the latter spoke of a connected Palestinian state.
The Greater Jerusalem Plan entails a complete separation between the southern West Bank governorates – Bethlehem and Hebron, and the central and northern governorates, contradicting the possibility of a viable Palestinian state.
Expropriating Jerusalem from the Palestinians and separating it from the rest of the West Bank, which means extracting the Palestinian people from their spiritual, cultural and political status of the Palestinians, and then trying to deprive the Palestinians of the most important elements that make them a people with national aspirations and turning them into scattered groups.
Within the context, the issue of the Red Khan and the displacement of the Bedouin communities are parts of the Greater Jerusalem plan to control all the eastern slopes of the Jerusalem hills through confiscating 12,400 dunums in 1997, as E1 area constitutes the remaining link to complete the settlement around Jerusalem. All that can be listed under ethnic cleansing policies that wouldn’t have been put on the Israeli government’s agenda so clearly if it wasn’t confident that the US administration would protect it from international accountability, especially since it knew that such an act is part of war crimes.
Regardless of the continued US administration protection of the Tel Aviv rulers’ policies on Jerusalem and its suburbs, as well as the West Bank, thus, the Palestinian side decided to work in 2 directions: first, seeking the ICJ’s opinion regarding the US’ policy and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the Israeli occupation, and shifting its Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, second, approaching the ICC and request the Prosecutor to refer the files of Israeli war crimes in Jerusalem, forced displacement and silent ethnic cleansing to the Judicial Division of the Court in order to initiate open investigation without delay in such crimes described under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as war crimes.