Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The impossibility of dividing Jerusalem

The impossibility of dividing Jerusalem

How (not) to divide Jerusalem
The only country in the world whose municipal construction and zoning plans make international headlines is Israel. The latest manufactured outrage was triggered by a Jerusalem city council planning committee’s announcement of plans to build another 768 housing units in the city.
First in condemnation was the US:
Construction permits for 768 residential units, including some in neighborhoods across the Green Line, were approved by the Jerusalem municipality’s local planning committee on Wednesday. The neighborhoods included Har Homa, Sur Baher, Neve Yaakov, Beit Safafa, Pisgat Ze’ev and Jabel Mukaber.
“The [Jerusalem] municipality opposes all attempts to halt the legitimate right of every resident to get a construction permit and will continue building in all of the city’s neighborhoods for Jews and Arabs alike,” a statement by the municipality read.
The U.S. condemned the approval of construction permits across the Green Line and called for both Israel and the Palestinians to refrain from taking unilateral steps that could hurt the ongoing peace talks.
“Our position on Jerusalem is clear,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Wednesday. “We oppose any unilateral actions by either party that attempt to prejudge final status issues, including the status of Jerusalem. We’ve called on both sides to take steps to create a positive atmosphere for the negotiations.”
The Jerusalem Municipality’s decision to green light building in three Jewish neighborhoods in the city beyond the 1967 lines drew sharp international condemnation, with EU foreign policy chief Catherin Ashton calling on Israel to reconsider and reverse the decision.
Ashton, increasingly criticized by government officials for swiftly condemning every building announcement beyond the 1967 lines but not protesting similarly Palestinian incitement or violence, issued a statement saying she was “deeply concerned” by the announcement.
“These plans could put at risk the prospects of Jerusalem becoming the capital of two states and, in particular, the territorial contiguity between east Jerusalem and the southern West Bank,” she said.
“The EU and the international community have repeatedly warned that any unilateral action prejudging the final status of Jerusalem threatens the current peace negotiations and, as a consequence, the two-state solution,” she added. “Any such developments must be avoided at all costs.”
Despite Ashton’s adoption of the Palestinian position that Jerusalem will be the capital of a future Palestinian state, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly that he is opposed to dividing the capital.
Considering the low number of houses in question, and against the background of international paralysis in the face of enormous unrest, violence and lethal civil war in the surrounding countries, it is nothing less than absurd, not to say utterly hypocritical, to condemn the construction of civilian housing in a civilian city, planned by a civilian committee.
The following video shows the utter absurdity in the very idea of “dividing Jerusalem” so that it could be a capital for two countries.

If you want to learn more about the impossibility of dividing Jerusalem, both physically and politically, you should read Yaacov Lozowick’s excellent series: Don’t Divide Jerusalem. It contains links to several very enlightening posts of his own, videos, maps and diagrams, all of which are worth a thorough read.
In particular, since it’s relevant to this post, read Lozowick’s Har Homa post, and have a good look at his pictures. It is highly instructive.
And next time you read about “East” Jerusalem and “West”, remember that these terms are inaccurate and politically loaded.