Walls slice up Jerusalem’s Arab district

Friday 23/10/2015
Newly erected concrete wall in East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabel Mukaber

AMMAN - Israeli walls are slicing up tradi­tionally Arab East Jerusalem in a seemingly punitive response to Palestinian violence unleashed after Israeli provocations at Je­rusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine.
Israel has placed concrete walls around Jewish areas in East Jeru­salem, allegedly to protect them against roiling Palestinian violence. The structure erected October 18th divided restive Palestinian Jabel Mukaber and Jewish Armon Han­atziv.
Israel knows well it cannot fence off communities of several thou­sand Jews living among Palestin­ians in East Jerusalem. Palestinians make up 37% of Jerusalem’s total population of 850,000.
Even if Israel fenced its people, it would not be able to stop violence by Palestinians.
Construction of the walls sends several messages, including reassur­ing the Israeli community at large that its safety remains a top state priority. To Palestinians, however, it is a total snub.
This says that if their violence persists, the occupation will be strengthened behind new realities: failed peace efforts and a harder line Israeli leadership.
The consequences are dramatic because Palestinians receive virtu­ally only vocal backing from other Arabs, who are preoccupied with militant violence, sectarianism, popular uprisings and civil wars.
“It’s a de facto division of Jeru­salem,” warned Hamada Faraaneh, who is of Palestinian decent and had once served as a member of the Pal­estinian parliament-in-exile, called the Palestine National Council.
“The Israeli move imposes a new reality.
“Palestinians must now continue surrendering to the occupation as more of their lands are grabbed, communities are shattered and they are further banished to force them out and ultimately seize al-Aqsa.”
For the Israelis, it’s the flip side of the coin. The Zionist Union, the centre-left party that leads the op­position to Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, accused the premier of relinquishing lands to Palestinians in Israel’s capital.
Jabel Mukaber has been a hotspot in recent violence in which eight Is­raelis were killed in Palestinian stab­bings or stone throwing. On the oth­er hand, 42 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, including 19 labelled as attackers. Another 1,770 Pales­tinians were wounded in violence that raised speculation of a new full-blown Palestinian uprising.
Israel seized the West Bank, in­cluding the traditionally Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East War. Later, it annexed the territory in a move that is not recognised internationally and declared East Jerusalem part of its eternal and indivisible capital. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future independent state.