What’s The Deal With Jerusalem, Anyway?

 
Sana Saeed, AJ+, June 11, 2017

Jerusalem is arguably the most contentious city in history. From the Crusades to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, a lot of civilizations and peoples have tried to claim the land. But the recent history of Jerusalem has made the city more than just contentious – it’s made it one of the greatest symbols of modern conflict, at the heart of the 50-year-long Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Learn more here:
• United Nations, “The Plan of Partition and the End of the British Mandate”
• Al Jazeera America, “Who Owns Jerusalem?”
• Time, “Why Jerusalem Isn’t Viewed as Israel’s Capital”

The Palestinian Right to Jerusalem Is an International Law that Cannot Be Taken Away

Position Paper: A Grant of Recognition from those who do not own to those who do not deserve

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), December 7, 2017

Baflour Declaration Recurs
In a dangerous precedent that violates the international law, on Wednesday, the US President, Donald Trump, declared that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the American Embassy will be removed to it, signing an order of this.  The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the irresponsible statements by the US President and emphasizes that Jerusalem’s legal status as part of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) codified in the international law according to the resolutions adopted by the UN and International Court of Justice (ICJ) and recognition of an overwhelming majority of the world’s States. 154 States voted in favor of recognizing the state of Palestine on the territory occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem.

PCHR believes that the declaration represents granting recognition from those who do not own to those who do not deserve as if the history repeats itself to bring out a new “Balfour Declaration in the centennial of the old declaration but by an American tongue this time.  PCHR stresses that the Palestinian right to Jerusalem is an international law that cannot be changed by political statements and measures, adding that the declaration convicts its issuer, making him a criminal at the international level and a big shame to the free world.

PCHR emphasizes that Trump’s declaration explicitly violates the international law, Security Council Resolutions, and Geneva Conventions, and constitutes two crimes.  The first crime is a crime of aggression against the Palestinian State as the declaration supports and upholds the annexation of lands using force.  The second crime is a war crime as the declaration is considered as a complicity in the Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, including Jerusalem.

In his comment, Lawyer Raji Sourani, PCHR’s Director, said that, “This decision is an explicit call for imposing the rule of jungle and de facto policy in addition to completely flouting the international law and UN’s role… This declaration also gives political legitimacy for the Israeli crimes and affects the history, present and future of the Palestinian people.”

This development came in light of the current US administration’s systematic policy of denying the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and attempting to close down the Palestinian cause.  This policy started with supporting the settlement expansion, which was explicitly expressed by the American administration in many events, through being deliberately silent to condemn it or through frankly speaking that settlements belong to Israel and denying they are an occupied territory. In addition, the huge pressures practiced by the US on the UN Bodies, Intentional Criminal Court (ICC) and the Palestinian leadership to deprive the Palestinians of resorting to the International Justice.  This was a position expressed by the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, when she said that, “the days of Israel bashing at the UN are over.”  And finally, the Us Administration’s aggression on the Palestinian territory came to end practically the Peace efforts and the two-state solution.

It should be mentioned that 13 States had embassies in Jerusalem until 1970s without recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  However, the US was not among those States as it only had a Consulate in Jerusalem that refers to the US Embassy in Tel Aviv.  Those 13 States then moved their embassies from Jerusalem to other cities in Israel, especially following the Security Council’s Resolutions No. 476 and 478, which both condemn Israel’s attempted annexation of Jerusalem.

It is noteworthy that the US Congress recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 1995, and the US President recommended in his decision at that time to issue an official declaration to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.  Since then, the US Presidents continued to delay the embassy move until today when the US President Trump dared to issue the declaration in violation of the international law and disregard for the international peace and life of many innocents that would be endangered due to provoking feelings of millions of Muslims and Christians around the world.

Explicit Violation of UN Resolutions

The Security Council issued 12 resolutions that emphasize Jerusalem is a territory occupied by the Israeli authorities.  Eight of them stipulate that all measures and changes in the legal status of the city are not lawful and the Israeli forces shall be withdrawn from it.  The four other resolutions call upon Israel to withdraw from the territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem. The first of them was the Security Council’s Resolution 242.

Of those resolutions directly relevant to Jerusalem is the Security Council’s Resolution 476 in 1980 that Calls upon Israel to withdraw from the occupied territory, including Jerusalem, emphasizing any change to the status and character of Jerusalem has no legal validity.

In the same year, Resolution 478 was adopted to condemn Israel’s Basic Law which declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s “complete and united” capital, constituting a violation of international law and not affecting the continued application of the Geneva Convention on the City as an occupied territory.  The Resolution also condemned all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of Jerusalem are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.

One of the latest and most prominent resolutions condemning settlements in the oPt, including Jerusalem, was Resolution 2334 in 2016, which states that Israeli settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity” in addition to undermining the peace process and two-state solution.  The Resolution also calls upon all States to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.  It is noteworthy that this Resolution passed in a 14–0 vote by members of the UN Security Council with the US abstention.  This Resolution is considered the fifth of its kind affirming and condemns Israel’s commission of the settlement activity crime.

In its Advisory Opinion on the Annexation wall in 2004, the ICJ affirms that the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including Jerusalem, are occupied territories according to the international law.  On this basis, the ICJ’s Resolution came to affirm that the wall has no legal validity as it cuts off parts of the Palestinian territory.

The General Assembly also adopted many resolutions affirming that Israel has no right to Jerusalem as it is an occupying power. The first of these resolutions was Resolution 303 in 1949, which condemns Israel’s declaration of Jerusalem as its capital.

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November 6, 2017
Jerusalem on the Moving Edge of Colonial Rule


Tom Philip Abowd
Tufts University
206 Ingraham Hall
1155 Observatory Drive
UW-Madison
12 noon – 1:00 pm

This Middle East Studies presentation will analyze how colonialism and colonial urbanism remain a crucial component of contemporary Palestinian and Israeli realities.

It seeks to illuminate everyday life as well as the broader institutional forces that comprise and enable Israeli urban policy in Jerusalem. What kinds of barriers—physical, legal, and discursive—operate to keep Israeli-occupied Jerusalem a city of immense separation and inequality?

The lecture will also address some of the multiple expressions of anti-racism and resistance to colonial and military rule in the city most contested by Palestinians and Israelis since 1948.

Condemn, don’t celebrate, 50 years of occupation of Palestine

Barbara Olson, The Cap Times, Jun 11, 2017


Palestinian workers wait to cross the Israeli checkpoint of Al-Jalameh, south of the West Bank city of Jenin, on their way to work in Israel May 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

June 2017 marks 50 years of Israeli military occupation of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. In 1967, in open defiance of international law prohibiting acquisition of territory by force, Israel began settling its own Jewish population on occupied Palestinian land, seizing large swathes of the most valuable, fertile and resource-rich areas.

For 50 years this dispossession has been enforced by a violent regime of military occupation, a regime that has expanded and deepened until many argue that it now meets or exceeds the legal definition of apartheid — a system of laws, institutions and practices that treat people differently based on race, ethnicity, nationality or religion.

For the last 70 years, Israel has also denied millions of Palestinian refugees their right under international law to return to the homes and properties from which they were ethnically cleansed from 1947 onward. In contrast, Israel’s “Law of Return” gives automatic citizenship rights to any Jewish person from anywhere in the world.

Those Palestinians who refused to flee after the Israeli state was declared in 1948 spent years living under martial law before gaining Israeli citizenship. Now making up at least 20 percent of Israel’s population, they face dozens of discriminatory laws that privilege Israeli Jews.

A special mention must be made of Gaza. While Israeli soldiers and settlements were withdrawn in 2005, Israel exercises “effective control” over Gaza’s borders, coastal waters and airspace, making it the occupying power under international law. For 10 years it has enforced a suffocating and deadly blockade of Gaza, condemned by the UN as an inhumane act of collective punishment of nearly 2 million civilians, half of them children. Devastating Israeli military assaults in 2008-09, 2012 and 2014 killed thousands of civilians and deliberately destroyed Gaza’s civilian infrastructure.

U.S. political, military and financial support makes this possible. Republican and Democratic administrations have given lip service to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, calling the settlements and occupation “obstacles to peace.” In reality, they envision not two equal states side by side, but disconnected, fragmented and nonviable “Bantustans” for Palestinians under permanent Israeli control.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is underwriting Israel’s abuses of Palestinians and the massive expansion of the Jewish-only settlements that long ago killed the possibility for any two-state solution. U.S. taxpayers already give Israel more than $3 billion in weapons like F-16 (and now F-35) fighter jets, Apache helicopter gunships, Caterpillar bulldozers, the Iron Dome, and more each year. This was before President Obama agreed to give Israel another $38 billion in weapons over the next decade. And before the election of Donald Trump, who has enthusiastically aligned himself with Netanyahu and the most racist and militaristic elements of Israeli society.

As Trump recently — at least temporarily — backed off on his campaign pledge to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Senate Democrats, including progressives Tammy Baldwin and Bernie Sanders, joined Republicans to unanimously call for just that.

While such congressional efforts to make the Israel lobby happy go back many decades, no president has yet chosen to inflame tensions in the region by legitimizing Israel’s East Jerusalem occupation and mistreatment of Palestinians in this way.

Sen. Baldwin actually joined Mitch McConnell in co-sponsoring the resolution, which as U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights policy director Josh Ruebner pointed out also “celebrates a half century of Israeli military occupation of East Jerusalem while ignoring Israel’s violations of international law there and its separate-and-unequal regime which discriminates against Palestinian Jerusalemites.”

Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voice for Peace noted that “Jerusalem could not be more divided, physically, economically, socially and politically,” as Palestinians there face home demolitions, property seizures, collective punishment, and discrimination in residency rights and public resources.

One would think that true progressives would condemn rather than celebrate 50 years of military occupation, mass imprisonment, violent repression, property theft, and expulsions, and call for a just solution based on respect for international law, equality, justice and human rights. Clearly, both Baldwin and Sanders failed that test.

Barbara Olson is a member of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project.

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BREAKING: Trump Signs Waiver, But Senate Wants Embassy in Jerusalem

Josh Ruebner, U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 1 June 2017

Breaking news: Donald Trump has backed off one of his major campaign pledges and signed a waiver to the Jerusalem Embassy Act to keep the US Embassy to Israel in Tel Aviv for another six months.

For the time being, Trump is upholding a long-standing, bipartisan policy of not recognizing any nation’s claims to sovereignty in Jerusalem.

While Trump has realized that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem at this point would be a mistake, the Senate has other ideas.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced S.Res.176, a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of what it terms Israel’s “reunification of Jerusalem.” And he’ll be bringing it up for a vote next Monday, June 5.

Click here to find out if your Senators have sponsored this legislation and contact them to register your opposition.

Not only does S.Res.176 call on the president to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. It also celebrates the fact that Israel has held East Jerusalem under military occupation for the past half-century and ignores Israel’s violations of international law—its construction of settlements and a wall, its expropriation of Palestinian property and demolition of Palestinian homes—there.

It makes patently false claims that all people enjoy freedom of worship in Jerusalem under Israeli administration when Palestinians from other parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip do not have the ability to pray at their holy sites in Jerusalem without a permit, which is often difficult or nearly impossible to obtain.

The resolution also fails to mention the separate-and-unequal status that Palestinian Jerusalemites face under Israel’s regime. Even though Israel annexed East Jerusalem, a move which even the United States refuses to recognize, Palestinian residents are not citizens of Israel and can’t vote for its parliament. Israel often regularly revokes Palestinians’ residency rights in the city as part of a plan to engineer a favorable demographic balance. And Palestinians face systematic discrimination from the municipality in the allocation of building permits and funds for schools, health care, sanitation and other services.

Click here to contact your Senators about this resolution (and your Representative about a similar one in the House which may also come up for a vote next week).

Learn more about why we oppose these resolutions in the talking points we sent to Capitol Hill earlier this week. And learn more why we think it would be a terrible mistake to move the US Embassy to Israel to Jerusalem in this policy paper we published earlier this year.

This is urgent! We can’t let the Senate vote on this resolution on Monday before our Senators hear an outcry from constituents like you who oppose Israel’s military occupation of East Jerusalem and the separate-and-unequal regime it has created in the city.

Thank you for picking up the phone and writing your Members of Congress today.

Sincerely,

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