Israel continuously claims Jerusalem as it’s Capital and further promises that it will remain undevided. The Palestinians on the other hand are more flexible, claiming East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, currently a UN non member sate following the General Assembly vote to upgrade its status back in 2012.
In 1947/8 Israel effectively ethnically cleansed West Jerusalem of its Palestinain population. In 1967 Israel occupied East Jerusalem and has since worked to plant Israeli Jews illegally in ‘settlements’ in order to change Jerusalem’s demography. It worked to surround East Jerusalem with illegal settlements that only Jews can reside in, cutting it off from the rest of the West Bank and finally built a Wall to separate thousands of Palestinians from Jerusalem from their city.
the ‘special’ status of Palestinians from Jerusalem
But that is not the end of the story, When Israel occupied East Jerusalem it gave special status to Its Palestinain population, which is uniquely racist. It issued them with a ‘resident status’. Suddenly families that lived in Jerusalem for generations became temporary residents and stateless. They were issued with a blue Identity card, have neither Israeli nor Palestinain citizenship but have travel documents one issued by Jordan and one issued by Israel. The ‘residency ‘ status means that Israel can withdraw it at any time and does. Since 1967, Israel has revoked the residency of over 14,000 Palestinains. It claims Palestinians who cannot demonstrate that Jerusalem is ‘the centre of their lives’ have no need for the permit. Therefore, if a Palestinain lives abroad it will revoke the residency if they are away for seven or more years. Here is an example of a recent case, which illustrates this.
This is completely racist and a form of ethnic cleansing. If a Jew who moved to Israel, was granted citizenship and decided to live Jerusalem then decides to live abroad, s/he does not lose his/her right to return to the city he did not come from in the first place but a Palestinain born and bred in it loses his right to return.
Israel also makes it almost impossible for Palestinians from Jerusalem to form families with Palestinians from other parts of the West Bank that can live in Jerusalem. This means that a Palestinain man from say Bethlehem, who falls in love with a Palestinain woman from Jerusalem can end up in a very tricky position. He is unlikely to be allowed to live with his wife in Jerusalem as the Israelis would not give him permission to do so and If his wife moves to live with him in Bethlehem, she could lose her Jerusalem ID
and therefore her ‘residency right’. If they have children, Israel will not include them in her Jerusalem ID card and therefore they can never live in Jerusalem.
The above illustrates how Israel’s occupation impacts on the daily lives of Palestinians from Jerusalem but this is only one aspect.
Impact of the occupation on the fabric of Palestinian society
Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine directly attacks the social fabric of Palestinian society. While Israeli families can visit almost every part of historic Palestine, including the illegal settlements, Palestinians are stuck in cantons. Palestinians from Jerusalem cannot visit Gaza. They can visit the West Bank but those they visit cannot make reciprocal visits. And if a couple from Jerusalem decide to marry and wish to invite Palestinians from the West Bank to their wedding, they have to hold it on the West Bank side of the Wall. A popular venue is Azariyya or Ramallah. I speak from personal experience as this is what I had to do when I married a lady from Jerusalem with a Jerusalem ID card.
Cynical use of Planning permission to deny Palestinians the right to build
Discrimination between Jews and Palestinians extends to the right to build homes and commercial properties. In short, Jewish Israelis have far fewer and lower regulatory hurdles to build than Palestinians. This is clear racism. It is almost impossible for Palestinians in Jerusalem to obtain planning permission to build a house or to extend an existing house. While Israel argues illegal settlements need to expand to accommodate ‘natural growth’, it makes it impossible for Palestinian families to expand existing homes to accommodate sons who marry and wish to establish families. This results in them moving out of Jerusalem, to find affordable accommodation in the West Bank, thus potentially losing their Jerusalem Residency.
Jerusalem is holy to the three great religions and each has holy sites that Israel controls. The Alburaq or Western Wall is where Jews currently pray. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the most important Christian Church and one to which many Christians make a pilgrimage. Alaqsa mosque is the holiest place for Muslims outside Makkah and Madina. All seems fairly straight forward, except Jews claim that Alaqsa mosque sits on the site where a Jewish temple stood thousands of years ago and some want to build a temple on that same site. In addition, fanatical Jews including members of the Knesset now regularly enter the Alaqsa mosque, uninvited, protected by occupation forces with the intention of establishing that they have a right to it.
Any sensible person, who understands the power of religion for good and bad understands that any attempt to disturb the current relative peace on the Alaqsa mosque site is a recipe for igniting religious hatred and violence. We do not need this. Each religious group should simply pray at their current site and leave the other alone. I fear rabid Zionist in Israel will not heed this sensible call and will want to progress their mad idea of building a temple on the site of Alaqsa. What is needed is a clear and unambiguous decree by a moderate Jewish leader to ban such an attempt.
Taking the above features of the occupation collectively, I fear for Jerusalem and more specifically for the indigenous Palestinians whose shear continued existence is under attack. I do not accept that a Jew from outside historic Palestine has a right to ‘return’ to Jerusalem but an indigenous Palestinian can have his or her right to live in his or her home town revoked by the military occupier.
Jerusalem is a holy city, unique in its character and Israel should leave this untouched, at least from now on. This holy city is being torn apart by an unholy occupation that Zionists think will wipe out its Palestinian history and replace it with a fictitious continuous Jewish history that simply is not there. This is a city for everyone in the world to cherish and this world needs to wake up to Israel’s crimes in it. Alquds is far too precious to leave to a bunch of rabid and deluded Zionists to change to their liking.