Fatah: We’ve Lost the Battle for Jerusalem

Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)

In the past four years, thousands of Arab Jerusalemites living outside the municipal boundaries of the city have moved back into Jerusalem for fear of being left on the other side of the security
Many abandoned large houses in favor of small and expensive apartments inside the city. “People see the anarchy and instability in the Palestinian Authority areas and prefer to leave to a safer place,” explained Ibrahim Barakat, a businessman from Beit Hanina, a large Arab neighborhood in northern Jerusalem. “After all, life inside Israel is much better than the West Bank.”

But perhaps the most significant change has been Israel’s success in eliminating the presence of a Palestinian political address in eastern Jerusalem. The death of Faisal Husseini, the top PLO
representative, and the subsequent closure by Israel of Orient House, the unofficial PLO headquarters in the city, eliminated one of the most prominent symbols of Palestinian sovereignty in Jerusalem.

The construction of the fence, together with strict Israeli security measures, also resulted in a sharp decline in the activities of PA security agents inside the city. Until a few years ago, hundreds of PA security agents were operating almost freely in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, sometimes kidnapping residents to Ramallah or Jericho for “interrogation.”

Israeli institutions remain the largest employer of Arab Jerusalemites. Thousands of teachers are employed by the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israel Ministry of Education, who receive higher
salaries and better privileges than their colleagues who work for private or PA-controlled schools inside the city. In addition, scores of Israeli medical centers and clinics employ thousands of doctors, nurses, and administrative workers from eastern Jerusalem.

“Let’s be honest, we have lost the battle for Jerusalem,” admitted a Fatah legislator from the city. “The Palestinian Authority hasn’t done anything to preserve the Arab and Islamic character of Jerusalem. The Arabs in Jerusalem have lost confidence in the Palestinian leadership and that’s why most of them prefer to live under Israeli control. Frankly, when I see what’s happening in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, I can understand why.”

May 15, 2007 | Comments Off on Fatah: We’ve Lost the Battle for Jerusalem

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