Monday, January 12, 2004

On Shabbat afternoon, I walked to East Talpiot to visit friends for Shabbat lunch. On my way, I walked across the Haas Tayelet -- a promenade that goes across the ridge that links East Talpiot with the older Talpiot neighborhood. The Tayelet looks down on the deep valley that contains many Arab villages, including Silwan right next to the Old City. To the north one can see the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Dome of the Rock with its golden dome. As I looked across the valley towards the east, I saw a huge wall rising -- in the village of Abu Dis. This was the much discussed "separation fence," which in some places is a high concrete wall. Apparently the very next day, on Sunday, the workers continued to build the wall, which splits Abu Dis into two parts and prevents those on the outside of the wall from entering their shops, schools, and health clinics on the inside of the wall.

As James Bennet writes in today's New York times, Overnight, a Towering Divide Rises in Jerusalem.

On the slope of the Mount of Olives, Abu Dis sits partly within Jerusalem's municipal boundaries, and negotiators once saw it as the possible capital of a Palestinian state.

The idea was that Abu Dis could do politically what it had already done socially and commercially: smudge the line between Jerusalem and the West Bank.

But distinctions are getting sharper here, not blurrier. As he often does, Mr. Sharon referred to Jerusalem on Sunday as "the eternal, united, and undivided capital of the Jewish people."

The new wall will actually divide Abu Dis, keeping part of it on the Jerusalem side, separating neighbors and relatives who live just blocks or even a street apart.

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