Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now did a great post on their blog recently showing how wildly inaccurate PM Netanyahu was when he claimed, Sunday, that Palestinians can buy homes and live in West Jerusalem.
Netanyahu made this mendacious claim to buttress his argument that “it should be quite okay” for Jewish Israelis to construct homes and live in occupied East Jerusalem.
But as Lara– and a number of others have pointed out– it is just about impossible for Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem to “move over” and live in West Jerusalem, since most of the housing there is on what is called “Israeli state land”, whose sale, or rather long-term lease, to people who are not either Israeli citizens or certifiedly Jewish people from elsewhere is forbidden under a covenant between the government and the Israel Lands Authority.
However, neither Lara nor her primary source, Israeli attorney Daniel Seidemann, mention two other highly relevant aspects of the situation regarding access to housing in West Jerusalem:
- 1. Though the Israeli High Court has ruled (in the Qa’adan case) that real estate controlled by the ILA should be made available to Palestinian citizens of Israel, on an equal footing with Jewish Israelis, in practice Palestinian Israelis still find it just about impossible to buy or even rent ILA-controlled homes. Therefore it is not just Palestinians registered as residents of occupied East Jerusalem who can’t freely buy or move into the ILA-controlled homes in West Jerusalem– neither can Palestinians who have Israeli citizenship.
2. The vast majority of homes controlled by the ILA and other Israeli government authorities in West Jerusalem are properties that rightfully belong to Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed from that half of the city during the fighting of 1948. Many of those former residents of West Jerusalem ended up in East Jerusalem. (They include Um Kamel al-Kurd, evicted from her home in Sheikh Jarrah for the benefit of Israeli settlers, last November, and living in harsh circumstances in a tent since then.)
These West Jerusalem / East Jerusalemites now have to suffer this triple indignity:
- a. They are forbidden to return to family homes that are often just a short walk away from where they now live in East Jerusalem, and have to watch as the homes’ current Jewish residents make free and full use of properties that the Palestinian owners’ forebears scrimped and saved hard to build, and designed and decorated with great loving care.
b. Since 1948 these West Jerusalem / East Jerusalemites have done the best they can to build new– though always hopefully temporary– lives for themselves in the East Jerusalem areas where they sought refuge in in 1948. But now, even these neighborhoods are under intensive attack from Israeli settlers who receive considerable support from the Israeli authorities.
c. And now, too, they hear the Israeli prime minister making the quite mendacious claim that they are just as “free” to move into West Jerusalem as the settlers are to move into East Jerusalem!
It simply isn’t so.
I note that Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Association has even weighed in on this issue, saying incredulously to Netanyahu:
- as a longtime Jerusalem resident, I can only say — huh? Arabs in West Jerusalem? Wen? Eyfo?
By the way, Lara Friedman also has an informative interview with Seidemann here about the settlers’ projects in Sheikh Jarrah. And if you go to to the Ir Amim webste (English here) you can find a lot more information about the planning/settling/demographic situation in Jerusalem. Including you can download a good description— with map– of the settlers’ plans for Sheikh Jarrah.