Israel is rapidly sowing the seeds of its own destruction. Land confiscation, house demolitions, destruction of Palestinian property, and the Judaization of East Jerusalem are proceeding at unprecedented levels in 2011 and 2012.
What this means is that it may soon enough be physically impossible to share control of Jerusalem between Jews and Palestinians, and consequently, to solve the conflict by the estabilshment of an independent state of Palestine. Thus, the policies of terror and destruction adopted by the Israeli government and Jerusalem municipality may be scary for the Palestinians – but they should be even scarier for anyone who supports the idea of the Jewish state.
Let’s take a look at some of the facts: The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) reported that 2011 constituted “a record year of displacement,” with some 622 Palestinian structures demolished by Israeli authorities, 36% (or 222) of which were family homes. This means that a Palestinian home was destroyed four days out of every week this past year, resulting in some 1,094 displaced persons, double that of 2010.
And yet, the destruction does not seem to be enough for Israeli politicians, who held a special session of the Knesset last week on how to better enforce Israeli law in East Jerusalem -- basically how to ensure more 'illegal' Palestinian structures in the East Jerusalem get destroyed.
Of course, through an intricate system of zoning laws in East Jerusalem, “densely populated Palestinian neighborhoods are encircled by 'green space' or 'unzoned land' where building is forbidden.” ICAHD explains as well that per-plot housing density is also restricted, and is far lower in Palestinian than in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem. In other words, the Jerusalem municipality makes it almost impossible for Palestinians to build 'legally.'
The demolitions in East Jerusalem and the West Bank continue in 2012 unabated. Just this past week, the Jerusalem Municipality demolished the Shepard’s Hotel in the Palestinian neighborhood Sheikh Jarrah – a property built in the 1930s by Hajj Amin al-Husseini, former Ottoman soldier, graduate of al-Azhar University, leader of the dominant Husseini faction in Palestinian national politics during the British Mandate period, and former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. (Of course, if you read the Western media, all you will learn is that he allied with the Nazis during World War II). The Jerusalem Municipality then sold the property to Irvin Moskovitz, who will build some 20 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the heart of Arab East Jerusalem.
The Shepard’s hotel destruction may have been the most high-profile, but the Israeli's policy of home demolitions is moving fast apace. On Monday night, January 23, the Israelis demolished for the fifth time the “Arabiyya house,” an ICAHD peace center, along with other structures in the East Anata Bedouin Compound.
Also this week, the Israeli authorities confiscated 76 dunams of agricultural land from the village of Khas, east of Bet Lehem, again under the pretext that it was "absentee property." The land will now be annexed to Jerusalem. One wonders why the people of Khas were "absent" from their agricultural land? The answer is that they were physically prevented from accessing their land since 2007 because Israel built a gigantic fence separating them from it.
The PLO also recently announced that, since the beginning of the year (i.e. some 3 weeks ago), 1,367 dunams of land have been taken over and 734 new housing units have been built.
No Palestinian leader who wants to remain a Palestinian leader could possibly accept a Palestine without East Jerusalem as its capital (for better or worse). What this means, I think, is that the more Israel Judaizes East Jerusalem and the more Palestinian-owned land it confiscates – the more likely that the two-state solution becomes impossible. What’s left, for Palestinians, is equal rights inside Israel. That will be a scary day for people who hope Israel remains a Jewish state.
Photo Credit: Zachary Foster