Jerusalem Arabs prefer to stay in Israel

In East Jerusalem, residents say they would fight a handover to Abbas regime

MARK MACKINNON, Globe and Mail, Toronto

JERUSALEM — After 40 years of living under Israeli occupation, two stints in Israeli prisons and a military checkpoint on the same road as his odds-and-ends shop, one would think Nabil Gheit would be happy to hear an Israeli prime minister contemplate handing over parts of East Jerusalem to Palestinian control.

But the mayor of Ras Hamis, a Palestinian neighbourhood on the eastern fringe of this divided city, says that he can’t think of a worse fate for him and his constituents than being handed over to the weak and ineffective Palestinian Authority right now.

    “If there was a referendum here, no one would vote to join the Palestinian Authority. We will not accept it. There would be another intifada [uprising] to defend ourselves from the PA.”

[..] Those who live in the neighbourhoods Mr. Olmert spoke of handing over are nonetheless worried that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who is seen as weak and desperate for an achievement after losing control of the Gaza Strip to the Islamist Hamas movement, will accept the offer. They dislike the idea of their neighbourhoods, which are generally more prosperous than other parts of the West Bank, being absorbed into the chaotic Palestinian territories.

Mr. Gheit, with two posters of “the martyr Saddam Hussein” hanging over his cash register, can hardly be called an admirer of the Jewish state. But he says that an already difficult life would get worse if those living in Ras Hamis and the adjoining Shuafat refugee camp were suddenly no longer able to work in Israel, or use its publicly funded health system.

The 53-year-old said he’d be happy to one day live in a properly independent Palestinian state, but not one that looks anything like the corruption-racked and violence-prone areas that are split between the warring Hamas and Fatah factions. “I don’t believe in these factions. I only believe in putting bread on the table for my children. I fight only for them. At least in Israel, there’s law.”

Mr. Gheit said that over the past five years, some 5,000 people have moved into Ras Hamis from other parts of the West Bank, concerned that they would lose their Israeli identification cards if they didn’t live within the city limits. There would be a mass exodus into other parts of the city, or other towns in Israel, if it looked likely that Ras Hamis and Shuafat, home to a combined 50,000 people, were about to be declared no longer part of Jerusalem, he said.

Another concern for many in Shuafat is that they would lose access to the al-Aqsa mosque if they were transferred on paper from East Jerusalem to the West Bank. West Bank Palestinians are generally barred from entering the city, even to pray.

In a speech yesterday to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, Mr. Olmert stayed far away from such issues, but made his most explicit comments to date about offering some parts of Jerusalem to Mr. Abbas.

“Was it necessary to annex the Shuafat refugee camp, al-Sawahra, Walajeh and other villages and state that this is also Jerusalem? I must admit, one can ask some legitimate questions on the issue,” Mr. Olmert said, referring to the Israeli decision 40 years ago to annex East Jerusalem, including outlying Arab neighbourhoods. The entire city was declared to be Israel’s capital, a decision no other country recognizes.

Notably, all three neighbourhoods that Mr. Olmert mentioned are on the farthest outskirts of the city, within the greater municipality of Jerusalem, but outside the eight-metre-high concrete wall that Israel has constructed through the city.

The Israeli government says the barrier was constructed for security purposes; critics say the barrier, which zigzags deep into East Jerusalem and the West Bank, has always been intended to establish a de facto border. Mr. Olmert’s suggestion doesn’t go as far as previous Israeli leaders have in negotiations with the Palestinians. At the 2000 peace talks in Camp David, Israel’s then-prime minister, Ehud Barak, offered almost all of East Jerusalem to Yasser Arafat. The talks collapsed, primarily over the status of the Old City and the holy sites within it.

Efraim Inbar, the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, said that Mr. Olmert’s offer was an empty one, since he knew it was doomed to be rejected by the Palestinian side, which wants all of East Jerusalem for its capital, including its holy sites.

He said that Mr. Olmert, who is facing three separate criminal investigations into his financial dealings, must make conciliatory gestures toward the Palestinians in order to keep the left-wing Labour Party in his coalition. However, Prof. Inbar said the Prime Minister is too weak to carry through, since he also needs to keep right-wing parties onside.

Mr. Olmert is also under pressure from the United States to make concessions ahead of a peace conference that President George W. Bush is scheduled to host next month. However, hopes are fading fast for the November peace conference and Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that it was likely to be postponed.

October 16, 2007 | 8 Comments »

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8 Comments / 8 Comments

  1. First of all you don’t say anything publicly but you leak to CNN and BBC and Al Jezzera. Now, everybody believes we have the capability but not the will, so you use other means to get the message out which you can always deny.The antisemitism in the mainstream media will do our job for us as well as all the pinko blogs on the internet, We can even let out a story like we have invented a real doomsday weapon that if unleashed would send the world back in time to the first ice age, The inferred message is don’t put us to the test. We are capable of becoming a collective modern day Samson. The Israeli left will add credence to these stories by denouncing the government and all involved in this program, they are so gullible they will believe anything negative about Israel. They will make it all believable.

  2. Kol HaKavod, Yamit!
    I concur with your strategy.
    I wonder what, in reality, would happen if Israel were to do that which was necessary to protect her citizens near and far?
    The quintessential question I have for Yamit and for everyone else is the following:
    If Israel were to use its military might and intellect wisely and judiciously and if Israel had to threaten Saudi oil fields and other oil fields that power the western world’s economies, what do you think the U.S. would threaten to do? or actually do?
    Ultimately, he who controls the flow of the world’s petroleum resources can also control the worldwide jihad.
    It is the revenues generated from the Arab/Muslim’s petroleum resource that fund, facilitate and perpetuate the worldwide jihad – these same revenues allowed the Pakis (A.Q. Khan) to acquire Nukes.

    Jeff (

  3. Wow Tov! The Orthodox Jewish view is and I don’t accept any other as valid, is this in paraphrase. We have our G-d they have their G-d. If they win it will negate the existence of our G-d in their eyes as well as all others in the World. If they win it will prove to them that their G-d is the true G-d and many more millions will flock to their banner and world view, But if we prevail the world including marginal Jews will see that Our G-d IS: and he is still with us as our shield and our rock. Every retreat is a victory for them and their G-d. We have a binding contract with our G-d that we keep breaking but he hasn’t, I know in the end somehow he will come through for us, but maybe in ways that cannot yet be seen nor in what circumstances or in what time. I say all of this as a non practicing Jew but one who has a tendency to believe in the eternal fate of the Jewish People.(Koral Yisrael) Jewish Destiny ! I don’t no, I can’t believe that the Jews have endured so much have come full circle to a National Home and then Poof Loses it in such a short time.These audio tapes say it better than I can.

  4. What I truly mean Yamit, is that Israel must ignore world opinion and stick it to them! Settlers aren’t settlers they are FRONT LINE CITIZENS!Defenders of the faith!If the world can’t see it than,to paraphrase Shakespeare,”Hell hath no fury than Hashem scorned!”

  5. They want to keep their national insurance stipends and child allowances, as well as Israels cheap health care service and free traveling all over Israel. It is not Love of Zion. We must find a way to keep the Land but less the Arabs, at best they are a drain on the economy and Jewish Taxpayers and at worst are a fifth column aiding and abetting terror against Israel and the Jews.

    Since the world seems to be against us no matter what we do: we should assume the role of crazy state and do without regard to internal and world public opinion what we must do. We can start by telling Condi and Bush where they can go. ( what can they do to hurt us in an election year?) Sell the Saudis and Gulf States More advanced weapons( that they don’t know how to use or maintain without western help and guidance)? A- Our soldier prisoners in Lebanon- We give ultimatum that if they are not returned whole to us within 72 hours we will start to take out one by one each week until they are returned. In Gaza, If Shalit is likewise niot returned whole within 72 hours we start to take out the whole Hamas Leadership one by one. If they in revenge kill our boys we will kill every Hamas member we can reach with no quarter allowed. We advise Syria that the next time we face any belligerency from Hizbolla, our first target in retaliation will be Damascus which just happens to be in artillery range. (40 KM ) The next Kassam rocket into Israel will mean total destruction of all Gazan towns and villages. one by one, We put the West on notice that our first targets after Iran will be domestic Arab oil fields thus denying them to the west and the Arab states. We should at least threaten to quit the UN. We advise Syria that if they use missiles against us we will assume that they have chemical and biol. war heads and within ten minuets Syria will cease to exist. We will not wait to check results before retaliation.
    I am sick and tired of defending ourself s in the forums of World opinion and stupid diplomats and leaders. It it way past time for Israel to stop being the supplicants to the world and to start dictating our own policies on our neighbors near and far. THE WORLD SHOULD FEAR ISRAEL AND WHAT WE CAN DO TO THEM MORE THAN THEIR LOSS OF ECONOMIC INTERESTS BY OUR ENEMIES AND THEIR FRIENDS,

  6. This article illustrates part of the never-ending problem.

    The geographic adjustments and the population transfers (especially Gaza)are economically detrimental to Jewish Israelis. Yet, a non-Jewish Israeli, with ID card, continues with the economic benefits regardless of political changes. This non-Jewish Israeli bloc has no incentive to politically fight the barbarians. Their economic security pre-exists and is supported by the Jews.

    Part of this perpetual problem is caused by the descendents of the eastern European Yevsektzia ruling Israel.

    As an aside, are the “refugee camps” a topic for Annapolis ?

    The problem is internal to world Jewry.

    Kol tuv,

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