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'Cleansing' the Two-state 'Vision' in Jerusalem

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"Israel Slides towards the Disastrous One State Trap," The Baltimore Sun's editorial concluded on June 5. The conclusion is no more true than in Jerusalem, where systematically and persistently Israel is accelerating her "Israelization" plans for eastern Jerusalem that will in the foreseen future doom the "land-for-peace" formula as obsolete, outdated and dead letter, and rule out the widely trumpeted solution of the two-state "vision" based on it as "unrealistic" wishful thinking, unless the world community intervenes with determination to make a difference in salvaging whatever remains of potential peace prerogatives in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"Forty years later, Jerusalem still a divided city," CNN reported on June 7. Israel officially claims that the "eternal" capital of Israel was irreversibly "reunified" and will remain "undivided." However "the mantra is accurate only as myth," Kevin Peraino wrote in the Newsweek on June 4. Geographical, demographic, legal and political realities on the ground dispel Israeli claims as no more than day dreaming of an occupying power determined to continue challenging those realities as well as the world community who sees peace can only make or break in Jerusalem.

Israel is refutably invalidating her "unification" claims by unmercifully "dividing" the city with a concrete barrier, condemned by Palestinians as "the Apartheid Wall," which is expected to be finished by early next year. She claims, "The fence is not political. It is not a border. It is only a security fense," according to Nezah Mashiah, an official at Israel's "Defense" Ministry who oversees the project. The 'Wall" has absorbed 88,000 Jewish settlers in eastern Jerusalem but cut off 55,000 Palestinian Jerusalem tax payers, says the Israeli Peace Now. Asking anybody to draw a map of today's municipal boundaries would be an impossible mission; Israeli urban planners and security experts are already having a headache in deciding the route of the "security barrier."

The division was recently highlighted by a move to create an Arab – Palestinian municipality council independent of the Israeli Jewish city council imposed on Jerusalem since 1967, which coincided both with a U.S. Congress motion to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to the Holy City and with Israeli celebrations in the city to mark the 40 anniversary of its "reunification" on June 5 that year, celebrations that were boycotted by all the diplomatic corps accredited to the Hebrew state.

Since Israel cut Jerusalemites off their Palestinian compatriots in 1993 she did everything possible to finish off their civil organization that could preserve their national identity, from the Orient House to the Association of Palestinian Writers. But recently more than 53 institutions grouped together under the Jerusalem Association of Civil Institutions, have announced their intention to form a separate and independent municipality: "All U.N. resolutions since 1948 are based on the fact that Jerusalem is occupied territory, and that the occupation has no right to change its legal status, its geographical character or demographic makeup, and it is the right of its residents to take the necessary steps to organize and maintain their civilian lives," they said in a statement last week; a similar message was sent to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

UN Security Council resolutions 252, 267, 271, 298, 476 and 478 – passed without U.S. objections during both Democratic and Republican administrations – specifically call on Israel to rescind its annexation and other efforts to alter the city's legal status. Article 5 of resolution 478 specifically calls on all UN member states not to recognize Israel's annexation efforts. U.N. Security Council resolution 242, long seen as the basis for Arab-Israeli peace, emphasizes the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war."

Self-contradictory U.S. Policies

Ironically however U.S. lawmakers were not only trivially insensitive to international legitimacy when they overwhelmingly endorsed and celebrated one of Israel's spoils of her 1967 conquests by calling on the President on June 5 to make good on the 1995 Jerusalem Act, but were also self-contradictory when they days later passed another congressional resolution reaffirming the United States' "commitment to a true and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the establishment of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, and with recognized borders."

Similarly, the Israel Zionist Council has petitioned the Government to amend the "Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel," known as the (former prime minister Menachem) Begin law, which was passed on 30 July 1980 and reads: "Jerusalem, Capital of Israel: 1. Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel. Seat of the President, the Knesset, the Government and the Supreme Court: 2. Jerusalem is the seat of the President of the State, the Knesset, the Government and the Supreme Court." Seems unsatisfied with this text, the Zionist Council is seeking to have the words "and the Jewish people" added after the words "capital of Israel." Justifying the move, Professor Uzi Arad, Head of the Council's strategic department was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying the change is "a reflection of the political, social, historic and moral situation that exists in any case."

U.S. President George W. Bush was more realistically adaptable to the world community's sensitivities and on June 1 extended a waiver of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act on moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, "to protect the national security interests of the United States," the White House said in a statement. The waiver came days before the U.S. House of Representatives on June 5 passed without opposition a non-binding resolution calling on Bush to make good on the 1995 Act. The Senate was set to follow suit. The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America commended the bipartisan resolution "relating to the 40th anniversary of the reunification of the City of Jerusalem."

European major donors to Bush's "vision" of a two-state solution were more balanced, though miserably less decision-makers, than their American co-sponsors of the envisioned plan and more sensitive to peace-making than the Zionist leaders of Israel. Germany, the rotating presidency of the European Union, in a letter from the German foreign ministry to the Speaker of the Knesset, Dalia Itzek, refused to attend the Israeli official 40th anniversary celebrations of "reunifying" Jerusalem, where no single foreign embassy retains premises anymore and where the celebrations were also boycotted by all foreign envoys.

'Israelization' Accelerated

Regardless however, Israel is sustaining her unabated "Israelization" plans inside and outside the Holy City's municipal borders, and is encouraged by the congressional support as well as by a U-turn in the policies of the administration of her US strategic ally and the helpless European inaction to confuse her real intentions of bulldozing the two-state vision first of all in Jerusalem with the same bulldozers that are wiping out the Palestinian reality in the city and trying to create a new Israeli reality there.

"The Palestinian dream to see East Jerusalem become the capital of Palestine, which in the early 1990s appeared within reach, now appears further than ever from being attained ... What's left of the future capital of the Palestinian state are heaps of ruins, a political phantom; a surrounded city, encircled by settlements and isolated from the rest of the West Bank, a city that had already been dying for 15 years before the separation fence came to finish it off," Dr. Hillel Cohen wrote in his new book, "The Market Square Is Empty: The Rise and Fall of Arab Jerusalem, 1967-2007." (Quoted by Sayed Kashua, "Loosing Jerusalem," Haaretz, June 10, 2007)

The first public proof of Israel's real intentions was unfortunately American and surfaced with the letter of guarantees, condemned by Palestinians as "Balfore Declaration II," President Bush wrote to the comatose former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on April 14, 2004, whereby Bush subscribed to Israel's interpretation of the status quo in the West Bank, Jerusalem inclusive, and ruled out a return to June 4, 1967 armistice line of 1948, the return of Palestinian refugees and dismantling there of the illegal Jewish colonial settlements, home to 450.000 settlers, as "unrealistic," in a 180 degrees U-turn drawing on an almost bipartisan congressional consensus on the U.S. policy vis-à-vis the Israeli settlements, which were all declared illegal by previous administrations.

Bush's letter was a par excellence example of words-versus-deeds policies because the content thereof is in a head-to-head contradiction with his "vision" of the two-state solution. No wonder then that Israel embarked on her unilateral plans to divide the occupied West Bank between the occupying power and the occupied people, who are left with 42 percent of the area for their promised state, but the division move stopped short of encompassing Jerusalem, a city spared for unifying Israelization plans.

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*Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist in Kuwait, Jordan, UAE and Palestine. He is based in Ramallah, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
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