Jerusalem without Palestinians? - Opinion -
Israel continues to treat peace talks with the Palestinians like a soccer game: There has to be a winner and a loser. Peace as a shared interest has disappeared from Israelis’ emotional and intellectual lexicon
Is an Old City of Jerusalem without Palestinians unimaginable? This question couldn’t have been put into words if it were unimaginable. Given the ghost town in Hebron and the hell of besieged Gaza, there’s no choice but to conclude that the dynamics of the perpetuation of the temporary Oslo Accords, combined with the security mythos, might lead to a similar nightmare scenario in Jerusalem.
In Israel, “security” is only for the Jews and their state. The fact that the Palestinians under this state’s rule constantly live without any kind of security – physical, employment-wise, property-wise, emotional or nutritional – is erased from every intelligence assessment and every moral position.
For the sake of the Hebron settlers’ security, Yitzhak Rabin punished the Palestinians with curfews and segregation for the massacre perpetrated on them by Dr. Baruch Goldstein. Fewer Arabs in the streets of Hebron, more security for the Jews. And all those who came after Rabin followed him down this slope toward a ghost town in Hebron.
Israel continues to treat peace talks like a soccer game or a wrestling match: There has to be a winner and a loser. Peace as a shared interest has disappeared from Israelis’ emotional and intellectual lexicon. Ever since 1994, the leaders’ orders and the actions on the ground by the army and the Civil Administration have sent the opposite message: We must beat the Palestinians in negotiations.
And what constitutes victory? No independent Palestinian state as envisioned by the United Nations in its resolutions, and as the Palestinians have agreed to since 1988.
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The separation of the Gaza Strip (since 1991, my friends) from the rest of the Palestinian territory and the separation of East Jerusalem (since 1993, ladies and gentlemen) from both the West Bank and Gaza were ostensibly temporary security measures. But ever since implementation of the Oslo Accords began, Israel has proved that instead of ending these separations, it’s making them worse. These twin separations were the prerequisites for thwarting the UN resolutions.
In the interim battles waged since 1994, the Palestinians have been defeated. In their chronic weakness, they created a duplicate and cumbersome system of limited self-government whose interest in surviving is intertwined with Israel’s interest in continuing the façade of negotiations and what it has produced to date: enclaves of fictitious sovereignty.
Once, negotiations were a means. But as peace became more distant, like the horizon when you walk toward it, negotiations became an end. Now, resuming negotiations is an end. Still, we must remember that despite all these interim surrenders, the Palestinian leadership still hasn’t produced the longed-for signature on the final surrender “agreement.”
This is the reason for the daily arrests, checkpoints, raids, new roads and neighborhoods for settlers, people arrested over Facebook posts, rulings by judges in Jerusalem ousting Palestinians from their homes so Jews can move in, and every few years, the offensives and wars. All these are steps in the negotiations.
Make the situation a little worse and it becomes necessary to hold lengthy interim negotiations on “restoring the status quo ante,” which is never actually restored. Step by step, Israelis hope, they are advancing toward a Palestinian signature on a surrender.
Today, metal detectors are a security measure, ostensibly a necessary one. Ostensibly this has no connection to other steps – bureaucratic, planning, legal, administrative – that Israel has systematically taken to dismantle East Jerusalem as a Palestinian city and the capital of the State of Palestine.
With the dexterity of white-collar crime suspects and the smugness of high-class pimps, Israeli representatives turn the violent reality on its head: Israel is the one defending itself, the Palestinians are the attackers. This lets Israel make its aggressive policies toward them even harsher – gradually but constantly, ostensibly in response.
Security for Jews only, perpetual negotiations, separation and siege until the Palestinians surrender, Palestinian weakness – all the elements that made Gaza and Hebron possible also exist in Jerusalem. The pan-Muslim Al-Aqsa Mosque saves us from a full Hebronization. But not from all the steps along the way.