No, Israel Did Not Commit “War Crimes” in Restoring Jerusalem after the Six-Day War

July 13 2017

Last month, the New Yorker published an article alleging that the Jewish state violated international law when it cleared out the Mughrabi neighborhood of Jerusalem that once stood directly in front of the Western Wall. The truth is very different, write Nathaniel Belmont and Lenny Ben-David:

[Even before the 1967 war], there is evidence that the neighborhood’s days were numbered. Much like the adjacent Jewish quarter, which had been demolished by the Jordanians [in 1949], the Mughrabi quarter was nothing more than decaying slums built on rubble. . . . In 1965 and 1966, prior to the war, some 1,000 Arabs were relocated by the Jordanian administration—some by force—from the [former] Jewish quarter to the newly created Shuafat refugee camp, by order of Jordan’s then-prime minister Wasfi al-Tal, [and a similar fate likely was in store for the Mughrabi quarter]. . . .

[Furthermore, the] accusation of “war crimes” perpetrated by Israel ignores legal norms appropriating private property for public use and public safety—provided due compensation is paid. Ironically, it is Jordan that failed to recognize this basic legal norm in 1949, razing the Jewish Quarter, expelling its residents, and looting and desecrating 58 synagogues, all without compensation.

Jordan’s 1948 actions stand in stark contrast to Israel’s actions in 1967. Regarding compensation, a 1968 letter from former residents of the Mughrabi Quarter affirms that many residents received compensation.

During the 1948-1967 period, Jewish access to the shrine was totally banned; but [even] the pre-1948 situation was hardly tolerable for Jewish worshippers. After navigating through a labyrinth of potentially dangerous, narrow alleyways, Jews wishing to pray at the Western Wall found themselves in a cramped area of approximately 120 square meters. (In contrast, the al-Aqsa complex on the Temple Mount covers 144,000 square meters.) Visitors in the pre-1948 era encountered broken stones, sewage, animals (and the refuse they left behind), and Mughrabi Quarter residents who “had a tendency to harass Jewish worshipers.”

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem, Laws of war, New Yorker, Six-Day War, Western Wall

 

Jerusalem’s Economic Crisis, Its Arabs, and Its Future

Oct. 18 2018

The population of Israel’s capital city is 38-percent Arab, making Arab eastern Jerusalem the largest Arab community in the country. Connected to this fact is Jerusalem’s 46-percent poverty rate—the highest of any Israeli municipality. The city’s economic condition stems in part from its large ultra-Orthodox population, but there is also rampant poverty among its Arab residents, whose legal status is different from that of both Arab Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. Haviv Rettig Gur explains:

Jerusalem’s Arab inhabitants are not Israeli citizens—in part because Palestinian society views acceptance of Israeli citizenship, [available to any Arab Jerusalemite who desires it], as acceptance of Israeli claims of sovereignty over the city, and in part because Israel is not eager to accept them, even as it formally views itself as having annexed the area. Nevertheless, they have a form of permanent residency that, unlike West Bank Palestinians, allows them unimpeded access to the rest of Israel. . . .

There are good reasons for this poverty among eastern Jerusalem’s Arabs, rooted in the political trap that has ensnared the Arab half of the city and with it the rest of the city as well. Right-wing Israeli political leaders have avoided investing in Arab eastern Jerusalem, fearing that such investments would increase the flow of Palestinians into the city. Left-wing leaders have done the same on the grounds that the Arab half would be given away in a future peace deal.

Meanwhile, eastern Jerusalem’s complicated situation, suspended between the Israeli and Palestinian worlds, means residents cannot take full advantage of their access to the Israeli economy. For example, while most Arab women elsewhere in Israel learn usable Hebrew in school, most Arab schools in eastern Jerusalem teach from the Palestinian curriculum, which does not offer students the Hebrew they will need to find work in the western half of the city. . . .

It is not unreasonable to argue that Jerusalem cannot really be divided, not for political reasons but for economic ones. If Jerusalem remains a solely Israeli capital, it will have to integrate better its disparate parts and massively develop its weaker communities if it hopes ever to become solvent and prosperous. Arabs must be able to find more and better work in Jewish Jerusalem—and in Arab Jerusalem, too. Conversely, if the city is divided into two capitals, that of a Jewish state and that of a Palestinian one, that won’t change the underlying economic reality that its prosperity, its capacity to accommodate tourism and develop efficient infrastructure, and its ability to ensure access for all religions to their many holy sites, will still require a unified urban space.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Israeli economy, Jerusalem