Friday, August 26, 2005

Dispiriting Israeli moves after the disengagement from Gaza

The Israeli government has engaged in several actions concurrent with or just after the disengagement from Gaza that make me feel very depressed about the future of any possible peace with the Palestinians. Among other things, it has decided to build the separation wall around Ma'aleh Adumim, a Jewish suburb of Jerusalem in the West Bank, so that it will be connected to the Jerusalem municipality. This means that Palestinians will suffer further from the inability to travel, to work, to go to school, to visit family, to engage in business, etc. It also means that the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem will be completely surrounded by Jewish neighborhoods, thus making it impossible for Jerusalem to serve as the capital of two states, Israel and Palestine. Another move that I just received news about involves the plan to build a new Jewish settlement inside the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, near Herod's Gate.

This news comes via ICAHD: Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, which among other organizations is denouncing this decision and trying to reverse it. For more information about this decision and suggestions for letters to write against it, see the following information (I have abridged the statement).
Recently the Sub-committee of the Local Committee for Planning and Construction in Jerusalem has confirmed a plan to erect a Jewish neighbourhood in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. According to the plan, 30 housing units and a synagogue will be built to accommodate some 150 people. Professionals (BIMKOM - Planners for Planning Rights) warn of the implications of this plan:

The proposed plan violates the basic planning principles of all construction in the Old City:

1. Principles of preservation....
2. The Old City is the most densely inhabited place not only in Jerusalem but also in Israel....
3. In addition to the density, changing the open space, which is among the extremely few open spaces in the Old City, into a housing area will seriously harm the welfare of the people living there.

Besides the above planning drawbacks and the environmental implications, we recognize the political danger inherent in the plan. Building housing units for Jews in the Muslim Quarter has far-reaching implications over the delicate social fabric of the city. The Palestinians in East Jerusalem live in socio-economic distress, therefore a permanent presence of Jews in such a vicinity, in improved living conditions, would lead to provocation and a serious political and social crisis. Moreover, the proposed plan is also a continuation of a consistent Israeli policy whose purpose is a violation of the balance between Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem, creating by this policy a Jewish majority in East Jerusalem...


One way to help change policy is to contact government representatives....

--Phone, fax, or email your representatives directly. If you are a U.S. resident or citizen, find your representative's contact information at and If you have the ability, one fax is generally worth about ten emails.

--To help us gauge the response, please send a cc of your messages to

--Please also contact Israeli policy makers:

Min. Interior Ophir Pines, fax: 03-763 2638/ 02-566-6376 or email

Minister for Building & Infrastructure, Isaac Herzog, fax: 02-584-7033 and 02-582-4111

Director of Jerusalem District Planning, Ruth Yosef: fax: 02-624-1986 or phone: 02-629-0216

Jerusalem Mayor, Uri Lupoliansky, Fax: 02-629-6014

Rabbi Yehoshua Pollak, Chairman, Municipal Local Committee of Building & Planning: fax: 02-629-6178

Emails to Meir Margalit at will be hand delivered to the Municipality



I was shocked to hear that the Sub-committee of the Local Committee for Planning and Construction in Jerusalem has confirmed a plan to erect a Jewish neighbourhood in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.According to the plan, 30 housing units and a synagogue will be built to accommodate some 150 people.

Besides the fact that building this settlement is illegal under international law, professionals (BIMKOM - Planners for Planning Rights) warn of the negative impact of the plan on the Old City.

The building of this settlement in the Muslim Quarter also has negative political implications for the delicate social fabric of the city between Palestinians and Jews.

I urge you to do everything in your ability to stop the building of this settlement.



As a Zionist, I oppose unilateral actions like these, because they will increasingly make it impossible even to hope for the future of an Israeli Jewish state. The long-term result of Israeli governmental actions like this will be to make the idea of "two states for two peoples" impossible, and will force Israelis to contemplate the existence of a unitary state in Palestine which will, in a few decades, have an Arab majority. I also oppose actions like these because they indicate that the Israeli governmental is gratuitously ignoring the suffering it is imposing upon Palestinians - which is hardly a Jewish value!

An editorial in today's Haaretz, A poorly timed provocation, also criticizes the moves by the Israeli government to build the separation wall around Ma'aleh Adumim, with these words, "It is hard not to view the decisions about the fence and the new construction near Ma'aleh Adumim as a poorly timed provocation. They damage the efforts to rebuild trust with the Palestinian Authority and to strengthen its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, as a partner for future negotiations. They lend credence to the Palestinian claim that the withdrawal from Gaza was merely an Israeli trick designed to obtain international support and to divert attention from its tightening occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They erode the contribution that the successful disengagement made to reviving the diplomatic process and show that Sharon has returned to his evil ways in the settlements."

1 comment:

  1. The left may have it's own reasons for supporting disengagement. But it should not be naive (or disingenuous) about Sharon's agenda. It's not an "Israeli trick" except for those who think that Sharon has transformed into a Buber.

    (I suspect most Israelis are not naive about Sharon and, perhaps reluctantly or resignedly, tacitly support his approach.)

    Be well,