The issue of occupied Jerusalem constitutes the most basic factor behind the present Arab and Islamic struggle against the Israeli colonial policy to Judaise Palestine. Occupied Jerusalem, the symbol of three faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is being isolated from its Christian and Islamic roots and turned into an exclusive area reserved only for the Jews because they are “the chosen people of God”!
The city is being transformed internally and externally into a Judaised area by systematically segregating its Christian and Muslim Palestinians in a ghetto completely infiltrated and surrounded by Jewish colonialists. Israel’s official policy is to encourage more and more Jews to ‘settle’ in the Arab/Palestinian sector of occupied Jerusalem in order to gradually eradicate any Palestinian presence within or around the Arab city.
The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) has prepared a carefully researched report listing every unilateral move taken by Israel to change the demographic status of the city in favour of the Jewish presence. According to the report, the apartheid (separation) wall which surrounds occupied Jerusalem was constructed to consolidate the control of the passage of people in the city into the hands of the Israeli military.
The city can be closed down in the face of Christian and Muslim Palestinians within seconds by Jewish occupiers, thus separating Palestinians from their churches and mosques located within the walled-in area of occupied east Jerusalem. The wall has placed tens of thousands of Palestinian Jerusalemites outside its perimeter, thus almost cutting them off from the city.
It is, indeed, part of Israel’s colonial policy drawn up in 1967 for the single purpose of eradicating any Palestinian Christian and Muslim presence in occupied Jerusalem which is now an isolated area facing complete Judaisation. The Israeli policy has made it impossible to establish the future capital of an independent Palestine state in the Arab/Palestinian sector of the city. In addition, it has cast a shadow of uncertainty on the destiny of thousands of Palestinian Jerusalemites, to say the least.
Forced migration is not new to Palestinians. They have been subjected to it since the creation of the state of Israel that led to their displacement from their lands, homes and farms in 1948. Israel claims the wall is intended to separate Israelis from Palestinians to ensure security, yet it is separating Palestinians from their lands and denying them their legitimate rights as human beings.
Hanna Eisa, an international law professor and the secretary-general of the Jerusalem Islamic/Christian Association explains the above in clear terms: “The process of annexing Palestinian lands in [occupied] Jerusalem by the systematic colonial policy of the Israeli state aims to isolate [occupied] Jerusalem from its Arab neighbourhoods and to disconnect it from the West Bank, its geographical Palestinian extension, in preparation to completely annex it to the Israeli state.”
He brings to mind vivid memories of similar Israeli acts in the past when he says that “the future of the old city of [occupied] Jerusalem has become an exact replica of what befell Jaffa and Acre, two Palestinian cities when in 1948, their Palestinian residents were forced by [Israeli] arms to leave to allow for an overwhelming Jewish majority there”.
Israel has approved plans to link the colonies outside what is called ‘the Municipality of Metropolitan Jerusalem’ with others within the area to enlarge the Jewish presence within the city. They were linked by highways and tunnels with the colonies within the West Bank and with the geographical areas of the Israeli ‘green line’ established in 1949.
When the wall is completed, it will encompass, within the area of occupied Jerusalem 12 large colonies containing more than 176,000 colonists. Occupied east Jerusalem, the Arab/Palestinian sector, will have 44 per cent of its population made up of Jewish colonists, in addition to the 27 colonies surrounding occupied Jerusalem from four corners. This would also allow the finished wall to swallow more than 90 per cent of the 1967 enlarged area of occupied East Jerusalem, (equalling 70 square kilometres) to be part of Israel proper.
The apartheid wall is being built in a way to surround Palestinian villages and towns from three corners and isolate their residents from their annexed fields and farms, leaving them hostage in a big prison with an absolute restriction of movement. When construction is completed, the wall will isolate around 225,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites from the West Bank and lead to Israeli annexation of a 4km line deep in Palestinian territories (the West Bank of River Jordan) which would imprison nearly 200,000 Palestinians within the area of occupied Jerusalem and prevent a similar number from freely reaching occupied Jerusalem from neighbouring areas of the West Bank.
To exacerbate the already deteriorating situation, a special project has been executed since August 2003 to add to the wall surrounding occupied Jerusalem and make the isolation of Arab Jerusalem airtight. The purpose is to completely sever occupied east Jerusalem from its Arab/Palestinian neighbourhoods and attain complete Israeli control over its growth and development in order to eliminate any Palestinian presence within the city. With the hangman’s noose tightening around occupied Jerusalem’s neck; what do Muslims and Arabs plan to do?
Professor As’ad Abdul Rahman is the Chairman of the Palestinian Encyclopedia.