woensdag 22 juli 2009

Jeruzalem als bevroren Joodse nederzetting?

Oost-Jeruzalem, waaronder de oude stad, wordt geregeld als 'Arabisch Oost-Jeruzalem' of 'bezet Oost-Jeruzalem' aangeduid, ondanks het feit dat hier millennia lang Joden hebben gewoond, er eind 19e eeuw al een Joodse meerderheid was in Jeruzalem, en Joden in de oude stad de grootste minderheidsgroep waren. Hoe kan dat? Waarom wordt algemeen aangenomen dat de Palestijnen recht hebben op Oost-Jeruzalem terwijl dit nooit een Palestijnse stad was, en zij maar 19 jaar onder Arabische soevereiniteit was? In die periode had Jordanië bijna alle synagoges vernield evenals de Joodse begraafplaats op de Olijfberg, en in de 1948 oorlog had Jordanië de Joden uit Oost-Jeruzalem verdreven ofwel 'etnisch gezuiverd'. Ondanks Palestijnse beschuldigingen dat Israel de stad wil verjoodsen (wat op zichzelf waar is), neemt de Arabische bevolking verder toe en heeft zij het recht zowel in Oost als West huizen te bouwen en te bewonen. In Oost-Jeruzalem trekken steeds meer Arabieren bovendien in Joodse wijken, maar het omgekeerde door Joden wordt een poging tot het verdrijven van de Arabieren genoemd. Ami Isseroff merkt hieronder op:
Large numbers of Arabs were allowed to settle as squatters for years in Siloam (Silwan). No attempt was made either to regularize their status or to make them leave until recently. By now they have established a "fact on the ground" and the entire world believes that the squatters who arrived mostly in 1967 are direct descendants of the conquerors of Omar and Saladin, if not of the ancient Jebusites. 
Niet alleen de Joden creëren feiten op de grond.

It was really a no-brainer to predict that the settlement freeze dispute with the United States would lead to a dispute over the status of Jerusalem (see Will Jerusalem be a frozen settlement?). It was a no-brainer, but it seems, predictably, that almost nobody saw it coming.

Now the problem is upon us. The United States has tried to stop a plan by Irving Moskowitz to renovate a hotel in East Jerusalem that had been property of the Israel government for many years and create a relatively small number of housing units. US protests were reportedly deliberately leaked by Israeli officials to the media, in order to announce limits to the settlement freeze and to reassert the Israeli position regarding Jerusalem. Israel has rejected the calls. PM Netanyahu said:

[Jerusalem is the] "unified capital of Israel and the capital of the Jewish people, and sovereignty over it is indisputable...".

"Hundreds of apartments in the west of the city were purchased by Arabs and we didn't get involved. There is no prohibition against Arab residents buying apartments in the west of the city and there is no prohibition barring the city's Jewish residents from buying or building in the east of the city."

"We cannot accept the notion that Jews will not have the right to buy apartments specifically in Jerusalem.

.A peculiarity of this round of the US - Israel settlement freeze fracas is that only Israel is talking about it in public. An Ha'aretz article headlined "No difference to U.S. between outpost, East Jerusalem construction", but the body of the article stated,

Asked to comment on these remarks, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in New Delhi, said the administration is trying to reach an agreement with Israel on settlements, and "the negotiations are intense."

There is no hint in the article that any US or Israeli official made the statement ostensibly quoted in the headline. Nor has there been any other direct quote by any US official for public consumption, though Ambassador Oren was called in and apparently read the riot act by US officials. The Obama administration is now playing at make believe regarding the pressure on Israel, especially on the Jerusalem issue, both because Jerusalem is politically sensitive and because the US stand on Jerusalem is indefensible and makes no sense. It made no sense for the United States to ignore the existence of Communist China until the Nixon administration. It would have made even less sense if US ally Taiwan had reconquered the mainland, but the US refused to recognize a nationalist government in China.

The Jerusalem question is not new. The United States never formally recognized Israeli sovereignty in any part of Jerusalem, even before 1967. The US stance is consistent with "international law" since the UN declared Jerusalem to be internationalized in General Assembly Resolution 181 and reaffirmed its status as a "Corpus Separatum" in General Assembly Resolution 303. General assembly resolutions are not binding in international law, but there have been a number of Security Council resolutions condemning Israel for upsetting the international status of Jerusalem. Though there was no Security Council resolution regarding Jerusalem as a Corpus Separatum, there were several such resolutions (252, 298, 478) that condemned Israeli actions such as having a military parade in Jerusalem and the annexation of Jerusalem in 1980. The annexation was condemned as against "international law" even though no law had been passed and no security council resolution had declared Jerusalem to be internationalized. The UN never condemned Jordanian annexation of Jewish East Jerusalem.

US Presidents continually and farcically side-step a congressional requirement to move the United States embassy to Jerusalem and to register Jewish Americans born in Jerusalem as born in Israel.

A US appeals court recently upheld the refusal of the United States Department of State to list Israel as country of birth for U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem. This is done, "because of fears that recognizing the city as Israeli would pre-judge Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations." Of course, Arab countries recognize Jerusalem as not part of Israel, so the negotiations are already prejudiced, and the US insistence on a settlement freeze in Jerusalem prejudices the negotiations by labeling Jerusalem as a "settlement."

The fictive and farcical nature of the Jerusalem internationalization resolutions and the sad history of their non-implementation are related in the book "O Jerusalem," by LaPierre and Collins. The resolutions were opposed by the Arabs at the time, but were maintained in order to satisfy objections of the Catholic Church to Jewish rule in Jerusalem. Though Israel had agreed to internationalization initially, the United Nations made no real attempt to implement it or to send troops to save the besieged Jewish part of the city.

The internationalization issue is a dead horse, but the United States continues to ride it in order to appease Arab opinion. During the 19 years when Jerusalem was illegally occupied by Jordan, there were no UN resolutions condemning the Jordanian annexation of Jerusalem, or the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem by the British officered and supplied Jordan Legion in 1948. Palestinians and their supporters regularly complain of the "Ethnic Cleansing" of Jerusalem of its Arab inhabitants by Israel, notwithstanding the fact that more Arabs live in Jeruslaem today than have ever lived there in all of recorded history.

Israel and the Jewish people have been tardy and confused in pursuit of Jewish rights in Jerusalem. Perhaps it was because the Arab claims in Jerusalem seemed to be too absurd to merit opposition, or perhaps because of internal Zionist divisions over the importance of Jerusalem. David Ben-Gurion realized its symbolic national importance.

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