Jerusalem: A Question of Justice, Not a Camp David "Compromise"
Former "hard-liner" Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Shamir was famed by three red lines which he vowed not to cross in any settlement with Palestinians. Each one of Shamir's tabooed subjects was by itself a violation of international law. Now, "peacemaker" Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has five red lines, loudly violating UN resolutions and arrogantly denying Palestinians their rights in a land that is rightfully theirs.
Yet, as each of Barak's points constitutes a transgression of some sort, one of them is considered a symbol of the greatest injustice of all: denying Palestinians, Muslims and Christians their rights in Jerusalem.
Attempting to demonstrate through facts and figures the historical legitimacy possessed by the Palestinian people in Jerusalem is little rewarding considering Israel's indifference to such claims, even if legitimate. For Israel's leaders, whether perceived as political doves or hawks, Jerusalem is part of a religious ideology, which in part is supported by mythological understandings of their past. It is therefore irrelevant whether Palestinians dwelled in the holy city for just a few years, or for hundreds of years, for Israel, Jerusalem will remain united under Israeli sovereignty.
Israeli leaders insist on resorting to ancient philosophies that are by no means honored by the norms of today. Strangely enough, they ceaselessly attempt to rationalize these philosophies and apply them to today's standards. And even stranger, there are many who in fact accept the Israeli logic, applaud its virtue and vow to uphold it. The Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, Ehud Ohlmert, said last week that Jews will never officially share the city (Jerusalem) with Palestinians. This statement headed every election campaign he led in past years. It is unfair to perceive Ohlmert as an outcast Jew for such racist remarks, as simply most, if not all Israeli leaders including Barak, echo the Mayor's racism openly and with little remorse.
According to international law, East Jerusalem is an occupied entity and the Israeli government's annexing of it is illegal and must be reversed. However, a large part of the Jerusalem story was lost in the midst of Palestinians' desperate compromises, and that is that west Jerusalem is also a Palestinian entity which was occupied in 1948, after Israeli gangs savagely murdered many of its citizens and forced the rest to flee. Yet as 78 percent of historical Palestine was dropped throughout the years, the remaining 22 percent including the scare areas in Jerusalem are now open for a new compromise. It may sound outdated to even consider the occupied land of 1948 in the age of Camp David II, but history can never be changed, though it may be neglected.
The Israeli approach during its talks with Palestinians has always been an egotistical tone of the pitiless victor, who gives orders and laughs at the idea that his defeated enemy possesses rights. Based on this understanding, the Israeli government is certain that sooner or later, it will convince Palestinians to accept its "generous offers" or face the consequences. One of the Israeli offers on the table, regarding the future of Jerusalem, is to redefine the city's limits to include nearby West Bank villages under Palestinian control and grant them autonomy and a new title: Jerusalem.
Considering the imbalance of powers, past agreements and compromises, the endurance capacity of Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) one cannot help but predict an unjust agreement, whether in Camp David II or in the future. Yet the foreseen injustice is hardly an end of the Palestinian struggle for their lawful rights in Palestine. In fact, such injustice is likely to be the incentive for prolonging and regenerating the struggle for many years to come.
Israel had succeeded in pressuring the PA to endorse shallow agreements that hardened the lives of ordinary Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, rather than granting freedom and prosperity as Palestinians were promised. However, real peace shall remain missing if a final status agreement is signed without restoring the injustices of the past including freeing the holy city from Israeli oppression, for it was meant to be free.
Topics: Occupation, Palestine