Make East Jerusalem the Capital of Palestine

by Amira Hass, Haaretz, October 12, 2015.

Amira Hass أميرة هاس עמירה הס

Twenty steps that will reverse the situation – and be far less painful than the alternative.
The separation barrier near the Palestinian town Anata, near East Jerusalem.Emil Salman
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Israel is like the miser who gradually reduced the fodder he fed his
horse. It has perfected the policy of divide, crumble and conquer that
it implemented against the Palestinians and did even better when it cut
off the capital – East Jerusalem – from its people. Like that miser,
Israel thought this would work and earn it a place in the Guinness Book
of colonial successes.

But the horse died and Jerusalem’s Palestinians are rebelling. The miser
is shocked. How did the horse die just as it was getting used to not
eating? Many Israelis are reeling. Where did this violence come from?

Official spokesmen have succeeded in confusing public opinion. “The
Palestinians in East Jerusalem don’t want to live under the Palestinian
Authority, a sign that our rule is good for them,” they said. “They want
the National Insurance payments and health insurance,” those in the
know boasted to journalists. Those in the know, of course, never add
that Israel bears direct criminal responsibility for the impoverishment
of the Palestinians in the annexed city and for turning them into
welfare cases.

“The Palestinians in Jerusalem want citizenship because Israel is
terrific,” they said, as they released numbers of those applying, but
avoided one simple fact: Jerusalem Palestinians seek citizenship to
assure they won’t be expelled from their country and hometown.

The miser thought that Jerusalem, out of sight and blocked to visitors,
would be forgotten by the rest of the Palestinians. The miser is wrong.
If Israeli Jews want to stop the disaster brewing in Jerusalem and
elsewhere, they must demand that the Israeli government:

►Immediately launch an investigation into last week’s killing of Fadi
Alun of Isawiyah, who was shot to death by an unidentified policeman
when he was lying wounded on the ground.

► Stop the armed police raids of neighborhoods like Isawiyah and Jabal
Mukkaber, and stop beating residents and spraying their homes with
foul-smelling water.

► Cancel all the entrance restrictions for Palestinians to Jerusalem’s Old City and the Al-Aqsa compound.

► Order the police to stop giving traffic tickets to Palestinians for reasons they would never use to issue them to Jews.

► Cancel the ban on the Morabiton and Morabitat (Islamic Movement guards
on the Temple Mount) and cancel the prohibition on Palestinians,
including MKs, to shout and curse.

► Release Palestinian demonstrators arrested over the past year (who are
not suspected of using deadly weapons, or murder or attempted murder).

► Cancel the policy of house demolitions as a collective punishment and immediately compensate those who have been its victims.

► Immediately initiate amendments to the entry residency laws that would
make it clear that Jerusalemites can never have their residency
revoked, even if they live outside the city.

► Immediately restore residency status to the some 14,000 Jerusalemites
(and their descendants) who have had it revoked since 1967.

► Cancel all the demolition orders issued against Palestinian homes that were built in the city without permits.

► Restore to East Jerusalem all the lands expropriated from it or
allocate comparable tracts of land to replace those allocated to
settlements (i.e. “Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem”).

► Begin to plan Israeli-financed public housing projects for
Palestinians under the guidance of Palestinian planners, sociologist and
social activists.
The illegal “Sharon House”
► Expropriate “Sharon House” in the Old
City’s Muslim Quarter and turn it into the headquarters for the planners
of the above-mentioned housing program.

► Immediately begin repairing infrastructures and buildings in East Jerusalem, and improving municipal services there.

► Order the removal within a year of nationalist, zealous settlers and
their institutions from the Old City and other East Jerusalem
neighborhoods, because of the risk they pose to public safety and to law
and order in the entire area.

The Orient House, closed by Israeli authorities in 2001
► Open Orient House so it can serve as the city’s PLO headquarters.

► Apologize for 50 years of expulsions, discrimination, humiliation and impoverishment.

► Declare that all these steps are a prelude to demolishing the wall that separates the West Bank from East Jerusalem.

► Declare that the settlement enterprise is a national disaster that
threatens the wellbeing of the land and its two peoples. Announce a
five-year plan for bringing the West Bank settlers back home, or turning
them into law-abiding citizens with no excessive rights in the
Palestinian state, subject to that state’s consent and the criminal
records of the settlers in question. This would include the settlers in
Jerusalem’s Old City and in Hebron. Similarly, declare that all the
communities where settlers live will be open at no cost to any
Palestinian who chooses to live there, as part of a plan of compensation
and reparations.

► Declare that all these steps are in preparation for turning East
Jerusalem into the capital of the Palestinian state, following
accelerated negotiations on a tight timetable of withdrawals.

Delusional? Actually, all this would be far less painful than the destruction of this land and the two peoples who live in it.