On Yom Jerushalayim, PM Netanayahu swore that He will never divide Jerusalem. Then yesterday he said he was a great defender of the settlements but that he is constrained by “international considerations”. So essentially while he is trying to convince us of his bona fides, He is bowing to international pressure. In doing so he is also violating Israeli law.
The Jerusalem Law forbids the transfer of sovereignty in Jerusalem into foreign hands, but this is what is happening in practice
BY WOMEN IN GREEN
Politicians declare, over and over again, that Jerusalem will remain united forever and ever, but it seems that, in reality, the city is divided. Certain neighborhoods are closed to security forces and municipal enforcement bodies and there are signs forbidding Jews to enter. Jerusalem Council member Aryeh King describes the dismal and suppressed reality.
For years, Aryeh King, head of the Israel Land Fund and current member of the Jerusalem Council, states that along with the politicians’ declarations and oaths of commitment for the unity of Jerusalem, our eternal and everlasting capital, the government of Israel itself is dividing the capital in practice.
Aryeh King has many proofs of this and he presents them in every possible forum; from legal discussions to official documents, and in the answers that he receives from the City of Jerusalem in response to his questions. All of this and more lead him to one conclusion – the Law of Jerusalem does indeed forbid the transfer of sovereignty over the territories of Jerusalem to any foreign body, but in practice, that is exactly what the governments of Israel have done, one after another.
King directs the main thrust of his criticism toward the present government of Israel and its head, Benjamin Netanyahu, perhaps because of the rightist orientation shown by many of its members, both now and in the past. King is very disappointed with the behavior of those who, until not very long ago, knew quite well how to criticize the process of nibbling away at Israeli sovereignty in the capital and now have nothing to say about this most problematic conduct.
“The Netanyahu government made the decision to prevent Jews from entering eight neighborhoods in Jerusalem. In these neighborhoods Jews are forbidden to enter, and we’re not just talking about individual Jews; law enforcement bodies such as police, tax collectors and city municipal inspectors are also forbidden to enter and even governmental bodies such as fire fighters, the electric company and others are forbidden to enter,” he says and relates another from a series of events in which tens of Palestinian policemen entered the Arab neighborhoods in northern Jerusalem to restore order instead of the Israel Police.
“These are indeed Arab neighborhoods but from the point of view of their legal status,” King reminds us, “they are exactly the same as the Jewish neighborhoods of Har Nof or Bayit vaGan. The municipality does not enter these neighborhoods to clean or deal with problems in the schools. We appealed to the High Court of Justice against the municipality and they answered that they are willing to enforce the law but the Israeli Police does not allocate forces to the municipality’s people in order to carry out these actions, thus, effectively preventing enforcement. When we continued and asked the police as well, they told us to refer our questions to the prime minister’s office. This is a directive that was upgraded by Yaakov Amidror who headed the National Security Council. He frightened Netanyahu into stating that everything that is done in East Jerusalem, such as building enforcement, must be submitted for approval from the prime minister’s office.”
Large signs stating – entry to Jews is forbidden
“The current reality is that, at the entry to the Jerusalem neighborhoods, huge signs are in place stating that entry to Israelis is forbidden. The problem is that everyone who lives in these neighborhoods is Israeli. These are Israeli Arabs with blue identification cards. The true interpretation of what is written there is that entry is forbidden to Jews. We have seen the proof of this in the field. We came there with intent to enter and the police, who forbade us to enter, clearly told us that entry to Jews is forbidden. We have recorded evidence of these things,” he says and continues, “None of the ministers or members of Knesset can say that he doesn’t know what is happening. Everyone knows and is quiet. Minister Uri Ariel experienced this reality firsthand when his vehicle was stoned during the previous term of this government.”
For King, the definition of reality is very simple and very serious. “There are actually two mayors in Jerusalem. In the western part of the city there is Nir Barkat, who was elected by the residents, and in the eastern part of the city there is Netanyahu who conducts a policy of apartheid against Jews there. This is clear discrimination. There is someone here who places himself above the Law of Planning and Building and this someone is Benjamin Netanyahu. He can decide that you cannot build because of what is defined as ‘political considerations’, it was explained to us in an official document of the Ministry of the Interior.”
King has many examples of this reality and he brings up a few of them. “Lots that were intended for building in the eastern part of the city and belong to Jews, are not dealt with at all in the municipal committees, when there is a boom in Arab building in its surroundings. The deputy legal advisor states that no matters regarding building should be considered besides those of zoning. The building laws do not allow the prevention of building and despite this, in the neighborhood of Shimon haTzadik, eighty meters from the light railway, Jews hold the rights for the land that is designated for building and their case has still not begun to be discussed in the committees. Meanwhile an Arab to the right of that building submitted an application six months after [his] construction was completed and to the left, an Arab submitted an application a year and a half after [his] construction was begun.”
King notes that after (another instance of) freeing of terrorists, Minister of Housing Uri Ariel announced that the time had come to allow building in the Shimon haTzadik neighborhood, yet Netanyahu blocked the decision. King brings this as additional proof that directives to freeze construction in the eastern part of the city originate in the prime minister’s office.
Along with the severe criticism that is directed upwards, King does not spare the public at large. “Our public is silent and allows everything a free pass – as if it doesn’t see how facts are established on the ground as it was in Gush Katif, a fence at first, afterward a gate and after that they close the gate. Everyone sees how the city conducts itself as if it was two different cities. Why are the Arabs permitted to enter the Western Wall freely and Jews are forbidden to go up to the Temple Mount freely? Every week Jews are attacked in the Mount of Olives and we are silent.”
Political misgivings? Who cares? We care about Jerusalem.
King believes that Jews turn a blind eye to the situation because of a lack of awareness. This is the reason that he uses every possible stage and platform to present the data and call on the public at large to mobilize in order to spread and disseminate awareness of the reality in the field, whether in the virtual space or in meetings and writing to public figures, media and other citizens. “We must spread the information about the division of Jerusalem that Netanyahu is carrying out. The Likud ministers and members of Knesset know and are silent. A rightist cannot be part of such a government.”
And what if there is, indeed, something to the political misgivings that the prime minister’s office projects? Perhaps, nevertheless, there are considerations that the prime minister is aware of and takes into account?
King does not accept this sort of explanation. “These considerations do not interest me. At one time there were considerations regarding Bush the father, afterwards Clinton, Bush the son and now Obama. This is not interesting. The only consideration that interests me is protecting Jerusalem. No consideration, not Iran and no other security considerations are worth more than the fact that the Jewish People are, in reality, losing this city. Why, this city is why we came here. We are not called Israelis, but Zionists, for the name of Zion, which is Jerusalem. She is the reason that we came here and we are abandoning her.”