Dividing Jerusalem is also a bad idea

By Ted Belman

The Kadimah government proposes dividing Jerusalem because the Arabs want it and the world supports it. In its enthusiasm to make everyone happy with the give away, the left raises the discredited demographic argument. You know, get rid of this land and you get rid of the 200,000 thousand Arabs that inhabit it. Avigdor Lieberman goes so far as to extend this argument to the Arab triangle which he is all for giving away too.

It sounds good on paper but not in practice.

Evelyn Gordon tells us of the The report nobody’s talking about.

    This disregard is remarkable for two reasons. The first is the report’s provenance: the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, a respected left-wing research institute that has hitherto been a leading proponent of dividing the capital, and whose proposals have served as the basis for successive Israeli offers to do so from 2000 onward. The second is the report’s chief revelation: that the dramatic erosion in what was once a wall-to-wall consensus against dividing Jerusalem has been based almost entirely on faulty premises.

    [..] east Jerusalem Arabs are permanent residents, and under Israeli law, permanent residents have almost all the same rights as citizens.

    Thus while Israel can cede east Jerusalem neighborhoods, it cannot cede east Jerusalem residents, the report says: They would have to be offered the option of moving elsewhere in Israel. And it requires no great intelligence to realize that most of them would exercise that option – not because they love Israel, but because Israel has jobs, and the Palestinian Authority does not.

So in effect the Israel would be left with less land to house the same number of Arabs.

Financial implications

    Those who choose to remain Israeli residents will, like the Gaza settlers, have been forced to leave their homes by a government decision to withdraw from the areas in question. They could thus presumably demand the same compensation: for their homes, for moving expenses and, in the case of those who would be giving up local jobs or businesses, for loss of income as well. Those who opt to remain in their homes and give up their Israeli residency, in contrast, will lose valuable benefits such as Israeli health insurance and social security. And since that loss, again, will have resulted from Israel’s decision to abandon these areas, they, too, would be entitled to compensation, JIIS argues.

    In short, dividing Jerusalem would more than triple the amount of compensation Israel would have to pay its own residents under any agreement. Hitherto, most Israelis have assumed that at most some 80,000 settlers (those outside the settlement blocs) would have to be evacuated and compensated. But if JIIS is correct, dividing Jerusalem would raise the number of Israeli residents entitled to compensation to some 280,000.

It blows your mind doesn’t it.

Security implications

    DIVIDING THE capital would also have serious security implications. These are not addressed in the JIIS report, which focuses on legal issues, but they should be obvious to anyone who remembers the daily gunfire on Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood during the early months of the intifada. Gilo was the only Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem to suffer in this fashion because it was the only one within rifle range of Palestinian-controlled territory – namely, the village of Beit Jalla. And once the Israel Defense Forces reasserted control over Beit Jalla, the shooting stopped.

The answer is Israel’s Jerusalem should be expanded not shrunk

    A prerequisite to the growth of the current Jewish majority, in Jerusalem, is the substantial growth of Jewish immigration, stimulated by significant employment and housing opportunities, which requires a dramatic expansion of infrastructures, which means more – and not less – land. Disengagement from Arab neighborhoods – which are surrounded by large sparse areas – would deny Jerusalem its land reserves, which are critical to the upgrading of its infrastructures and to the enhancement of the Jewish majority. The smaller the area of Jerusalem, the larger the Jewish emigration!

    [..] The potential for Jerusalem’s expansion extends from east of Ma’aleh Adoumim to the Te’qoa’-Herodion bloc in the southeast, to the outskirts of Ofra and Beit El in the northeast, to Modi’in-Kiryat Sefer through Highway 443 in the northwest and Gush Etzion and Beitar Ilit in the southwest. The farther the Jewish neighborhoods from the inner city, the higher the Jewish fertility rate.

    The geographic extension of Jerusalem – buttressed by the Jewish demographic momentum – would enable Jerusalem to absorb the 90,000-100,000 Arabs, whose fertility rate is gradually Israelized. Expanding Jerusalem would provide a land-platform to reduce Jewish emigration and maximize Jewish domestic immigration and Aliya, which would bolster the Jewish majority.

    Engagement with – and not disengagement from – the relatively vast and sparsely-populated geography outside Jerusalem, would enable the Jewish capital to transform itself from a city of Jewish emigration, job shortage and economic stagnation into a capital of immigration, job creation and economic growth.

One wonders how the government could even consider dividing Jerusalem for even a minute.

November 2, 2007 | 11 Comments »

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