AN ANTHOLOGY OF THOUGHT & EMOTION... Un'antologia di pensieri & emozioni

Friday, 6 January 2017


A book by Nadav Shragai

Jerusalem divided, 1949-1967

New Book Backed By New Polling

As the English edition of Jerusalem: Delusions of Division goes to print, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy has published remarkable findings of a public-opinion survey conducted in east Jerusalem in June 2015, under the supervision of David Pollock.1 For the first time, it has been discovered that more than half the Arab residents of the eastern part of the city – 52 percent – prefer to obtain Israeli citizenship with equal rights, while only 45 percent prefer Palestinian citizenship within the framework of a Palestinian state. Only five years ago, in another survey that Pollock supervised, only 35 percent of the east Jerusalem respondents said they wanted to become Israeli citizens.
Anyone not aware of what has been happening in east Jerusalem is indeed likely to be surprised. However, the findings presented in this book – on the Israelization trend and the growing incorporation of east Jerusalem Arabs in the municipal fabrics – easily jibe with the survey’s findings.
Israel Police attempting to restore order on the Temple Mount,
September 13, 2015 (Police Spokesman’s office)
Reality has a seductive power. A huge power. Forty-eight years of living together in one city have fostered a different mindset among the east Jerusalem Arabs, more modern and much more cognizant of reality. It is a very different mindset than that of the Arabs of the West Bank or Gaza. It stems from common patterns of life within the city, and also, to a great extent, from a plethora of economic and other advantages. These advantages are entailed by the resident status that east Jerusalem residents maintain – a status and attendant benefits that the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza do not maintain at all.
This study, however, also depicts a contrasting, worrisome process: 60 percent of the east Jerusalem Arabs who were polled in the summer of 2015 support an armed struggle against Israel, and Hamas is very popular among this group. On the one hand, there is the trend of acclimatization and intermingling advances. On the other, the political dispute over the future of the city, along with the rise of radical Islam and the antagonism toward the Palestinian Authority, which the Jerusalem Arabs charge with neglecting them, leads to the phenomena of separation and confrontation, lightly armed and more lethal terror, and the popularity of Hamas.

Arab Residents Want Israeli Citizenship and Violence

The two contradictory trends exist side by side, do not cancel each other out, and form a sharp duality. One thing, however, is strikingly clear: east Jerusalem and its Arab residents constitute a reality in their own right. Beyond the damage that a division of the city will cause in the domains of security, demography, holy places, and municipal fabrics, the east Jerusalem Arab population is a major factor in itself. It is important to listen to them, and to heed the deep-seated desire of many of these residents to keep living in a single city as citizens with equal rights.
And another large “asterisk”: Pollock’s survey also found that 90,000 east Jerusalem Arabs who have remained outside the “security fence” hold much more radical and hostile views than the east Jerusalem Arabs who have remained on the “Israeli side” of the fence. Among a segment of this population, the desire for Israeli citizenship, which was strong in the past, is now significantly weaker than among the east Jerusalem Arabs still “inside the fence.” A decade of neglect and unsuccessful policy toward this population by the municipal and governmental authorities has turned this area into a wasteland with the population as its denizens. These parts of north and east Jerusalem are today a focal point of crime, terror, and profuse traffic in weapons. The residents have become a kind of ticking bomb. They feel neglected both by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and they seethe with bitterness and anger. This book proposes a plan of action for these areas and their population from which all can benefit. Israel’s policymakers would be wise to give it serious consideration.
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About the Book1

This book, which deals with the future of Jerusalem, was first published seven years ago with the title The Dangers of Division. After a wave of extreme Palestinian violence that centered on Jerusalem,2 it was rewritten in 2015, considerably expanded, and updated with data, facts, analyses, and conclusions. A wave of violence, which came to be called the “Jerusalem Intifada,” occurred mainly along the seam line between the Jewish and Arab neighborhoods, in mixed residential areas, and on the Temple Mount compound, which again became a focal point of incitement and calumny.3 Beginning on July 2, 2014, thousands of incidents of disorder and attacks on Jews were recorded in the city, including vehicular assaults and homicide, stabbings, and shootings, reaching a peak in mid-November with the massacre of worshippers at a synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood. In these incidents 10 Israelis were murdered and dozens wounded, some seriously. Six Palestinian terrorists, who were among the perpetrators of the attacks, were also killed. A Palestinian demonstrator was killed as well, and Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a youth from the Shuafat refugee camp, was kidnapped and murdered by Jewish terrorists. (This was a reaction by Jewish extremists to the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teenagers in Gush Etzion.)4 The murderers of Abu Khdeir were apprehended and are now awaiting trial.
Arab rioters on the Temple Mount chased
Jewish worshipers from the Western Wal
Jerusalem’s role as the hub of the conflict has prompted renewed discussion of the status of the east Jerusalem Arabs and the future of the united city. The demand has again been raised, particularly by left-wing movements like Ir Amim and Peace Now, that the city’s division be adopted as a policy goal. Behind the scenes, research institutes and political actors also deal constantly with the issue.
Actual negotiations on dividing Jerusalem have been held twice in the past.The first instance was in December 2000, when, as part of the process launched by the Camp David Summit, U.S. President Bill Clinton presented an outline for the division of the city. The second instance occurred at the end of 2007 in connection with the Annapolis Conference, when then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas discussed a proposal for a solution in Jerusalem. A few months after the conference, Olmert presented Abbas with a map that outlined the division of the city.
In both of these cases, basic agreement emerged on the division of sovereignty in east Jerusalem on a demographic basis, with the Jewish neighborhoods under Israeli sovereignty and the Arab ones under Palestinian sovereignty. In both cases, no accord was signed because of widespread opposition, Palestinian and Jewish, to a division of the city on such a basis, and because of disagreement on several issues concerning Jerusalem.
During the governments of Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu, talks on dividing the city were frozen. Prime Minister Netanyahu, for his part, declared that “united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel…. It always was, always will be ours, and will never go back to being divided and fragmented.”6 In January 2014, Netanyahu further clarified that he could not accept any reference to Jerusalem in the framework agreement on which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was working diligently at the time.7
On different occasions, three major Israeli politicians – former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who was responsible for negotiations with the Palestinians in the previous Netanyahu government, Labor Party Chairman Isaac (Buji) Herzog, and former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman – have expressed support for dividing Jerusalem or have not ruled it out.8
Even though, for years, a majority of the Israeli public has opposed dividing Jerusalem,9 supporters of a division make two main claims in its favor, one demographic and the other involving security. The former concerns the need to maintain the Jewish majority in the city by “subtracting” its Arab neighborhoods and residents. Such a “separation” is presented as inevitable in light of the ongoing shrinkage of the Jewish majority and the possibility that this trend will further accelerate. The security argument is raised against the backdrop of the waves of violence and terror that periodically issue from east Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods. A separation in the form of a division, so it is claimed, will enhance the security of the city’s Jewish population.
This book will address these two arguments and refute them. Dividing Jerusalem and subtracting its Arab neighborhoods from it is, in fact, likely to cause much worse security problems and hamstring the ongoing, sophisticated, cooperative work of security forces and intelligence in thwarting Palestinian and Islamic terrorist attacks. Furthermore, a division of the city is likely to diminish Jerusalem’s Jewish majority. The demographic problem indeed exists, but I will propose various ways to address it that avoid the dangers of division. The focus needs to be on the essence of the problem: the departure from the city of large numbers of Jews (18,000 per year). This entails preventing the phenomenon and changing the city’s negative migration balance to one that is even, or perhaps positive. To those who formulate the policies and make the decisions, this book offers a basic “toolbox” that can help to achieve that goal.

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Nadav Shragai is a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center.  He is the author of The “Al-Aksa Is in Danger” Libel: The History of a Lie; At the Crossroads: The Story of Rachel’s Tomb (Gates for Jerusalem Studies, 2005); and The Temple Mount Conflict (Keter, 1995);  He also authored the ebook Jerusalem: Correcting the International Discourse – How the West Gets Jerusalem Wrong. He was a reporter for Ha’aretz in 1983-2010 and currently writes for Israel Hayom.

© 2016 Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs