A Palestinian woman (L) walks amid Israeli occupation forces in front of the Damascus gate in the Muslim quarter of the Old City of occupied Jerusalem. Image Credit: AFP

Ramallah: A Jewish colonist movement is calling for Palestinian villages surrounding Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem to be officially incorporated into the West Bank.

The campaign dubbed “Save Jewish Jerusalem (SJJ)” says the 28 Palestinian areas are not “our Jerusalem”.

The campaign is being led and backed by high-ranking Israeli politicians and military leaders.

“It is time to fix the tragic mistake made in 1967 and remove most of the 28 Palestinian villages from (occupied) Jerusalem’s municipal area, thereby returning 200,000-250,000 of the city’s Palestinian residents to the West Bank,” former Israeli cabinet minister Haim Ramon said.

Israelis who are at a demographic disadvantage to Palestinians in general, who have more children than they do, are particularly worried about the ethnic make-up of Jerusalem.

“If the capital’s 320,000 Palestinian residents decide to vote in the municipal elections, the next mayor will be the Mufti’s grandson,” Ramon said.

Palestinians point to a series of crimes committed by Israeli authorities in occupied Jerusalem as proof that they want to change the facts on the ground and erase Palestinian and Muslim identity from occupied Jerusalem.

Ongoing incursions by Jews on Al Haram Al Sharif premises have been the largest instigator of violence since last year.

Ramon says Israel should relinquish the city’s eastern neighbourhoods to prevent from becoming a bi-national state.

Palestinians say occupied East Jerusalem, which is primarily Palestinian, never belonged to Israel in the first place.

“We are seeing more and more Palestinian residents of occupied Jerusalem being denied permanent residency by Israeli authorities,” Khalil Toufakji, who heads the Maps Unit at the Orient House of occupied East Jerusalem, told Gulf News. Revoking residency to Palestinians would save Israel billions, he added.