The Israeli efforts to consolidate settlers’ colonial hold over the city of Jerusalem
When the current right-wing Israeli government took office in February, 2009, it spared no effort to achieve its colonial and expansionist projects in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to tighten the grip on Palestinian residents living in the Eastern part of Jerusalem city.
During the period from January till December 2009, the Illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank witnessed unprecedented constructions and expansions as the different Israeli ministries issued tenders for 30541 new housing units to be built in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, out of which, 18456 (60.4% of the total number of housing units) were to be built in Israeli settlements in Jerusalem city.
Israel repeatedly rejected blunt US and International Community requests to halt constructions in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem including the natural growth. Furthermore, during this reporting period, Israel intensified its aggressions against Palestinian population in Jerusalem, demolished 88 Palestinian houses in the city and issued 934 demolition orders for Palestinian houses in the city under the pretext of lacking building permits.
Settlements Expansion & Demolition of Palestinian Houses
On November 27, 2009, the Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, and in order to circumvent the International Community and the US Administration, declared a 10-months settlement freeze in the West Bank settlements, excluding those in occupied East Jerusalem to allow the continuation of construction activities and planning schemes there, contrary to what had been agreed upon in the Road Map peace plan in 2003, which called on Israel to freeze all settlement activities in Israeli settlements in West Bank (including Jerusalem city) as well as natural growth of settlements. This Israeli provocative declaration came to undermine the prospects for Palestinian sovereignty as it falls short of the Palestinian demand to fully freeze settlement activities on all occupied Palestinian lands before resuming peace negotiations.
Netanyahu personally runs the Battle in Jerusalem
The Israeli war over the Palestinian existence in Jerusalem city has no limits. On December 18, 2009, the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu assigned a special coordinator that would coordinate between the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem and the Government to facilitate and speed up the demolition process of thousands of Palestinian houses in the East Jerusalem, where priority was given to demolish the 88 Palestinian houses in Al Bustan neighborhood in Silwan city in Jerusalem. Map 1
Map 1: Threatened Palestinian Houses in Al Bustan Neighborhood
It is worth mentioning that the suffering of Palestinian residents in Al Bustan neighborhood in Silwan city started early in 1991 and it is continuing until this day as in
- In 1991, a group of Israel Jewish settlers took by force more than 40 Palestinian houses owned by local residents in Al Bustan neighborhood in Silwan.
- In April 2005, the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem handed over residents of Al Bustan neighborhood administrative orders to demolish 88 Palestinian houses inhabited by around 1500 Palestinian Jerusalemites under the pretext of lacking building permits. While the real Israeli intention behind the demolition of these houses was to build an archaeological city 'City of David' that will erasing the Arab Identity of the City of Jerusalem and replace it with a Jewish Identity.
- At the beginning of 2007, Israeli archeological digs and excavation works started in Silwan city, close to the Walls of the old city of Jerusalem. These excavations were financed by a Jewish Israeli association works to settle Jews in Jerusalem city called “El’ad”, and also by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and the Israeli Nature and Parks Protection authority. The main goal of the excavations was to build an under-ground tunnel that will link the area with the Wailing Wall Plaza.
Israel aims to create a territorial link between the Jewish settlement inside the Old City of Jerusalem “the Jewish Quarter“ and the induced settlements in what is called the “Holy Basin Area”, which includes Wadi Al- Juz, Ras Al-‘Amoud, Al Tur, Jabal Al- Mukkabir, Silwan and Al Sheikh Jarrah. Map 2
Map 2: The Holy Basin Area
Following the Israeli PM's declaration of the 10 months settlement freeze, which excluded settlements in East Jerusalem, the Israeli Occupation Authorities along with the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem approved on November 27, 2009 new colonial plans for building new housing units in a number of Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem. Details of the plans are:-
On November 17, 2009, the District Planning and Construction Committee affiliated to of the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem gave approval to build some 900 new housing units in Gilo settlement south of Jerusalem. Map 3
Map 3: Gilo Settlement
On January 2, 2010, the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem decided to construct a purification pool in Ras Al Amoud settlement in east Jerusalem and has allocated NIS 250000 for the construction of this project to serve 140 Jewish families living in the settlement.
On January 5, 2010, Jerusalem's municipal planning and construction committee approved the construction of four new residential buildings adjacent to the Beit Orot religious school in East Jerusalem, effectively creating a new Jewish neighborhood of 24 families on the Mount of Olives. The project is being developed by Irving Moskovich, an American Jew who has funded Jewish projects in Jerusalem.
On January 6, 2010, the Jerusalem Municipal Planning and Construction Committee approved plans for the construction of a new Jewish neighborhood in the north-eastern part of Jerusalem city, in Shu’fat neighborhood. Three five-story buildings will be built and be home to some 50 Jewish families. The entrance level to the buildings will be designated for commerce.
Legal & International Status
The acting Israeli right-wing government headed by Benyamin Netanyahu is steadily moving towards the elimination of the Palestinian existence in the occupied city of Jerusalem mainly by intensifying the demolition of Palestinian houses in the city and adopting additional expansionist colonial plans to ensure the supremacy of Jewish residents in their 'eternal and undivided capital'.
The existence of the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem and their expansions are Illegal and contradict with the international law rules, United Nations Security Council Resolutions such as 237 (1967), 271 (1969), 446 (1979), 452 (1979) ,465 (1980.
UN Resolution 446 March 22, 1979 calls on Israel to rescind its previous measures and to desist from taking any action which would result in changing the legal status and geographical nature and materially affecting the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem and, in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories' .
Also UN resolution 452 of the 1979 “calls upon the Government and people of Israel to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.”
Furthermore, in May 2001, the head of the International Red Cross delegation to Israel and the Occupied Territories said that settlements are 'equal in principle to war crimes'. (Note: 'The transfer, the installation of population of the occupying power into the occupied territories is considered as an illegal move and qualified as a 'grave breach.' It's a grave breach, formally speaking, but grave breaches are equal in principle to war crimes', Rene Kosirnik, head of the ICRC delegation to Israel and the OPT, press conference 17 May 2001.)
Article XXXI of the 1995 Oslo agreement indicates that Israelis forbidden from building or planning to any project or settlements or any colonial expansion or any plan that lead to change the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The article provides “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations”.
 The Israeli Ministry of Housing and Construction and the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem