Barkat”s Jerusalem land swap

By Ted Belman

When the security fence was being built on the eastern side of Jerusalem, some Jerusalem annexed land containing 60,000 Arabs who had residency permits and blue cards, ended up east of the fence and some lands not annexed ended up west of the fence and they house 20,000 Arabs without blue cards or residency rights. Barkat wants to swap these areas so the Jerusalem border coincides with the fence. Barkat argued the outside area “should be under the PA’s jurisdiction rather than that of the municipality, which has trouble providing services and accessing those areas due to the security situation.

While some support the idea, not everyone does.

    Barkat seeks support to redesign J’lem borders

    Deputy Mayor David Hadari, who holds the economic portfolio, slammed Barkat’s suggestion.

    “I am totally against giving up on any part of Jerusalem; it doesn’t matter what side of the fence that it’s on,” he declared on Thursday. “There are borders in Jerusalem, and we’ll guard these borders with all the power we have.”

    He said he wasn’t worried about the capital’s borders changing any time soon, because a two-thirds majority of the Knesset is required to approve any changes to the municipal borders – something the deputy mayor said was unlikely.

    The 60,000 Arabs who live in Jerusalem neighborhoods on the eastern side of the security barrier are supposed to receive the same services – including trash, sewage and water – as the rest of the city, though the reality is different.

    These neighborhoods are under the jurisdiction of the Israel Police, but the police barely enter these neighborhoods due to security concerns.

    PA security forces are forbidden to enter the neighborhoods under the Oslo Accords.

The Arabs living in Jerusalem outside the fence would want to stop the swap and failing that, to move back into what’s left of Jerusalem. From a legal point of view, they may or may not have the right to do so. Israel probably has the obligation to continue honouring the blue cards. In effect then, we would be adding 20,000 Arabs from the land being annexed to those entitled to the blue card.

It should be remembered that the fence isn’t recognized legally as a border nor is the annexation recognized by anyone other than Israel. Thus we should be free to make the swap but unfortunately, such a swap would involve the PA because the area inside the fence is designated as Area B in the Oslo accords.

It seems to me that the best solution is to reroute the fence to the Jerusalem border instead of swapping land..

December 23, 2011 | 1 Comment »

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  1. Before I reached the last line, I had come to the same conclusion as Ted. But can you imagine the uproar such a move would create?