The recently elected Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, is heading to the US this week on a fund-raising tour that will bring him to New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington, San Francisco and Florida.
That report from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (HT: MondoWeiss) says Barkat:
- hopes to reach out to American Jews and make them partners in revitalizing Jerusalem. To use his language, he sees them as “shareholders” in the city.
I hope that Barkat will receive the welcome that’s deserved by a man who’s at the cutting edge of the currently escalating campaign to ethnically cleanse the whole Eastern half of the city– which was quite illegally Anschlussed by the Israeli government in 1967– of its remaining Palestinian residents.
US citizens of all faith-groups, or none, and of all ethnicities need to understand clearly that:
- 1. All of the area of Jerusalem that came under Israeli occupation in 1967 is considered, under international law and also by the US government, to be occupied territory.
2. Because of this, under the Fourth Geneva Convention, it is quite illegal for Israel to have implanted any of its own citizens as settlers into occupied East Jerusalem.
3. It is also quite illegal for Israel to have unilaterally declared the annexation (= Anschluss) of East Jerusalem to itself.
4. Because of all the above, it is quite incorrect for anyone to claim that Jerusalem has been “unified” and that this situation must be “permanent”.
5. Indeed, the final status of East Jerusalem– and also, under international law dating back to the 1947 Partitition Plan, that of the West of the city– still has to be determined as part of the final status agreement between Israel and Palestine.
6. Pending the conclusion of that final peace, neither side should take any steps that prejudice the final outcome. And yes, that includes both the implantation of Jewish settlements in the occupied East and its Anschluss to Israel.
7. Settlements are settlements and are illegal even if they are euphemistically rebranded as “neighborhoods.”
8. Over and above all the international-law considerations listed above, even from a civil-rights perspective it should be quite unacceptable to Jewish Americans, many of whose families have suffered from residential exclusion in the past, that huge areas of East Jerusalem (and the whole of West Jerusalem) are today completely “out of bounds” to potential Palestinian renters or purchasers.
9. Barkat has already announced many new rounds of demolitions of Palestinian housing in East Jerusalem that is deemed “illegal.” This great new background resource from Ir Amim describes the whole process whereby the Palestinians’ right to develop even lands that they wholly own in East Jerusalem is severely curtailed by Israel’s planning procedures; why Palestinans are thereby forced to build without the necessary permits in order to accommodate even their own natural growth; and why so many Palestinian families are therefore forced to live in constant dread of the Israeli bulldozers.
10. The attachment of Jerusalem’s rightful Palestinian residents to the city– both that of those who remain, living under constant threat there, and those hundreds of thousands forced out of the city over the 41 years of occupation by Israel’s many population-depletion ploys– remains strong. Jerusalem also remains at the heart of the nationalist sentiment of all Palestinians.
11. Jerusalem is also a city and an issue that is of key importance to 1.2 billion Muslims around the world, many of the world’s billion Christians, and just about all ethnic Arabs whether Christian or Muslim.
12. This year, Jerusalem has been deemed by the Arab League to be “the capital of Arab culture.”
13. In an ideal future, Jerusalem could be a meeting-point for many different faiths and civilizations from around the world. It certainly does not play that function today. Muslims and Christians who live as close as Bethlehem, Ramallah, al-Bireh, or even areas right up against the Wall that encircles the city to the east are forbidden to enter the city for pilgrimage, regular prayer, or other purposes.
In short, Barkat should be met wherever he goes on his current tour with a series of pointed questions that undermine the kind of propaganda points he will be making (as previewed in the NYT interview with him, which ran today.)