Thursday, 6 May 2010

Israel Matzav: Changing Jerusalem's status quo

Changing Jerusalem's status quo

In order to ensure that the outcome of negotiations between Israel and the 'Palestinians' is not pre-determined, the Obama administration has been pressuring Israel to freeze Jewish housing construction in Judea, Samaria and 'east' Jerusalem. The Israeli government has agreed to a ten-month freeze in Judea and Samaria (which is up at the end of September). But regarding Jerusalem, if the Netanyahu government has agreed to anything, they are not saying.

On the other hand, the Obama administration is making no such demands on the 'Palestinians' to preserve the status quo. As a result, the 'Palestinians' - both Fatah and Hamas - are taking action to 'Arabize' the city of Jerusalem. The activities being taken to 'Arabize' Jerusalem go beyond housing construction. Fatah is attempting to reopen its former Jerusalem headquarters at Orient House in the 'eastern' part of the city. And in general, Fatah is trying to make itself the go-to address for Arabs living in Jerusalem.

The Fayyad government is authorized by the new decision to relocate government offices and important institutions to what mass media refer to as eastern Jerusalem but actually includes northern and southern areas of the capital as well. The stated goal is to implant the sense among Jerusalem Arabs that the address for their issues is the PA.

The decision is a violation of the Oslo Accords, which prohibits the PA from operating in Jerusalem. The Orient House controversy, at the end of which Israel forcibly closed the eastern Jerusalem building and forbade it from being used for PA activity, was based on the clause in the Oslo II agreement stating that the PA's jurisdiction was restricted and did not include "issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations: Jerusalem, settlements, specified military locations, Palestinian refugees, borders, foreign relations and Israelis.”

The PA government also stated its intention of Arabizing the city, as well as "setting facts on the ground" that will have to be taken into consideration in all future negotiations with Israel. Special allocations will be made to schools, culture centers, health clinics and the like.

Hamas made a similar decision several weeks ago, allocating some $30 million towards various causes in eastern Jerusalem.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Changing Jerusalem's status quo

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