Jerusalem – An Overview

Jerusalem – An Overview

In 1948, Israel took over three quarters of Jerusalem after destroying 38 Palestinian villages located within the city’s outskirts and forcibly expelling their residents. On the wreckage of these villages, Jewish settlements were constructed. The part of Jerusalem that was seized when Israel came into being became to be known as West Jerusalem. The remaining part has been known as East Jerusalem, which remained under Jordanian rule until 1967, when Israel occupied the rest of Palestine in 1967 (the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip). In the years following 1967, Israel has implemented an ethnic cleansing policy within the newly occupied part of the city to change its demography in favor of Jewish settlers. 

The Old City of Jerusalem was Israel’s first target for settlement expansion, particularly in the ‘Jewish Quarter’. This area was since the times of the Ottoman Empire largely owned by the Muslim waqf (religious endowment) and many Jewish inhabitants of Palestine rented homes there. 

In the 1970s, Jerusalem entered a new stage of settlement outside the Jewish Quarter under the motto that ‘Jews have the right to settle in all parts of the Old City.’ Since then, the Israeli government has been working not only to displace Palestinians from the Old City itself but to encircle it with settlement belts. It has also started penetrating Palestinian neighborhoods around the Old City especially Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah, the Mount of Olives and Ras Al-Amud. 

In parallel, Israel has expanded the municipal borders of Jerusalem.  The first expansion happened immediately after the 1967 war. In 1993 several settlements around Jerusalem as well as lands that are part of Bethlehem and Ramallah have been added into the new municipal boundaries. Starting in 2003, the construction of a 181 km Apartheid Wall around Jerusalem has isolated 22 Palestinian villages inhabited by tens of thousands of Palestinians from Jerusalem from their city.

Since 1967, all these Israeli policies follow one basic goal: to keep Palestinians at no more than 30% of the population of Jerusalem so that the Jewish-Israeli and settler population maintains a demographic superiority. 

Judaization has been a state policy and describes Israel’s geo-demographic policy that aims at creating a Jewish majority through the ghettoization of Palestinians in ever-smaller enclaves by expelling them and colonizing their land by Jewish-Israeli settlers, Jerusalem is only one of the areas particularly targeted by ‘Judaization’.

Israel’s policies of occupation, setter colonialism and apartheid 

Under the partition plan of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, Jerusalem was to be internationalized as a corpus separatum – a body placed under a special international regime to be administered by the United Nations Trusteeship Council. 

However, Zionist leaders flagrantly trampled over Resolution 181 when they conquered the western part of Jerusalem in 1948, which then became to be known as West Jerusalem. 

East Jerusalem, together with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, were occupied two decades later; since then, the United Nations Security Council and the UN General Assembly have been recognizing them as occupied Palestinian territory and Israel as the Occupying Power.

As an occupying power, Israel must comply with the IV Geneva Convention, where actions pertaining to the seizure or destruction of private property, the forcible transfer of a population, or the evictions of residents under occupation, among others, constitutes flagrant violations of the IV Geneva Convention. 

Despite international condemnation, Israel moved immediately after the 1967 war towards annexation of Jerusalem. On 28 June 1967 Israel extended Israeli “law, jurisdiction and administration” to the area of East Jerusalem by creating one unified “municipality of Jerusalem”. The move annexed as well 28 Palestinian villages and large parts of Bethlehem’s land.  In 1980 Israel passed its “Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel”, fully annexing all of Jerusalem and surrounding areas. 

Israel’s policies in Jerusalem are an integral part of its settler colonial project, which it promotes by implementing a vicious apartheid regime against the entire Palestinian people.

Palestinians in Jerusalem are subjected to repression and denial of social, political, cultural and human rights in order to guarantee the supremacy of Jewish-Israeli citizens anywhere in Jerusalem over the indigenous population. 

The withdrawal of residency permits for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, home demolitions, refusal of building permits, lack of educational and health infrastructures and more, are all policies that affect only or disproportionately Palestinians and are intended to not only keep them at an inferior level of rights but eventually to fully expel them from their city and erase Palestinian existence as a people, a history, a culture and a heritage.