Israel’s hidden plans to take over Jerusalem
30/05/2007 06:12:00 PM GMT Comments (15) Add a comment Print E-mail to friend
By Amina Anderson
For 40 years, Israel has been trying to tighten its grip on Jerusalem and its holy sites. But using weapons only couldn’t help this plan. That’s why the Israelis decided to use concrete to achieve their target.
Since 1967, East Jerusalem has been occupied by the Israelis, who started building lives for themselves until today. As soon as the area was captured, the Israeli government devised plans to build neighborhoods to connect the Israeli enclave of Mount Scopus, which holds the Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital, with Jewish populated west Jerusalem.
From the mid 1970’s until the 1980’s, Israel has been mainly concerned with building the Jewish neighborhoods of Neve Yaakov, Gilo and Ramot Allon in East Jerusalem. Israel also expanded the boundaries of East Jerusalem from two square miles to 27 square miles.
“The plan was very simple: to get hold of the area and to consolidate control over the area, creating urban facts,” said Meron Benvenisti, the deputy mayor of Jerusalem in the 1970s. “It was exactly like a military strategic plan to take hold of the high ground, empty land and build there.”
At the Jerusalem Institute Think Tank, Kimhi, the head researcher also said: “All those areas were looking over Jerusalem … all of them were army positions, so it was quite easy for the government to enter the shoes of the Jordanians that left and expropriate it”.
Israel expansion episodes continued. In the 1980s, the government started building a string of West Bank settlements just outside the Jerusalem, including the vast hilltop enclave of Maaleh Adumim, which created a ring around East Jerusalem.
Along the way, Israel refused to take any complaints regarding the violation of the international law, claiming that it’s working on an unoccupied land. Moreover, the Israelis were making sure that the original Arabs are allowed no building permits, which drove them out of the city.
As a final episode, Israel now resumes the journey they started 40 years ago. Settlement construction began again; extensions are being developed in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and only the finishing touches remain for a police station in an area known as E1.
Apartments in the Muslim and Christian quarters of the old city are now being sold and major projects are being planned in other Arab areas.
“If you have Jewish life east of the Old City, obviously it’s going to make it harder to divide the city,” said Daniel Luria, a spokesman for the Ateret HaCohanim group, which settled 1200 Jews near East Jerusalem holy sites.
Even though Arabs face major difficulties in obtaining authorization for construction, “View of Zion” complex easily issued all the required papers. Now this complex is expected to hold 395 apartments, a hotel, shopping center and a sports club, where sales are already conducted to mostly Jews residing in the United States.
The project forced Arabs to build illegally risking evacuation and legal penalties every minute.
Despite the fact that many Israeli are claiming that this new complex would improve the neighborhood and that it is only intended for the overall wellbeing, Arab residents are concerned over another Israeli project that further disrupts their lives.
The Palestinians are being isolated by Israel’s towering concrete wall along the West Bank, which cut off tens of thousands of Jerusalem’s Arab residents. While the Israeli government is claiming that the Arabs are drawing the wrong conclusions, Palestinians remain skeptical about where they will end up if the Jewish community continues to grow in East Jerusalem.
Therefore, Palestinians remain helpless while the Jewish settlers take more steps to cement their control over the occupied territories.
“You get angry. But what can we do?” Mervat Zayeha, a Palestinian who resides in East Jerusalem, asked, looking at the construction. “It is not in our hands.”