Academic journal article Jerusalem Quarterly

Jerusalem: Fifty Years of Occupation

Academic journal article Jerusalem Quarterly

Jerusalem: Fifty Years of Occupation

Article excerpt

Originally published under the same title in Majallat al-Dirasat al-Filastiniyya 111 (Summer 2017): 140–159. Translated from Arabic by Zahra Khalidi.

Jerusalem represents an appropriate example for the study of modern settler colonialism and the mechanisms utilized to achieve its aims. Even before the June 1967 battles had subsided, the occupying force began imposing facts on the ground, as if the future vision for the city had been carefully prepared years before its occupation. Its actions attempted to decide the future of the city by laying the foundations for the current status quo. Israeli strategy toward Jerusalem has been one of its clearest policies, without needing further analysis, especially since Israel no longer disguises its motives on this issue. Nevertheless, Israel has not carried out its activities in an empty city; it has continually faced Palestinian challenges posed mainly by the city’s inhabitants and institutions, which have occasionally succeeded in hampering Israeli plans or their implementation.

International law – including resolutions of the UN Security Council, General Assembly, and UN agencies, and the International Court of Justice advisory opinion concerning the separation wall – considers the eastern part of Jerusalem occupied territory that is an inseparable part of the West Bank occupied since June 1967.1 This view is reflected in the policies of countries that have refused to move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, since the future of the city has not yet been decided and will be determined through negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis.2 European Union country representatives in Jerusalem regularly issue reports that document Israeli practices and express apprehension concerning Jerusalem’s future and Israel’s unilateral actions that completely ignore Palestinian and international interests in the city.3

The religious and symbolic importance of Jerusalem for many of the world’s peoples has sometimes led Israel to be more cautious and gradual in its implementation of policies. However, Israel has not hesitated to challenge the legitimacy of international organizations when it finds conditions to be conducive, as in its hostility to UNESCO.4

This article focuses on the land and population as it introduces the legal situation, reviews the impact of the occupation on the ground over the past five decades, and evaluates the performance of the Palestinian national response to the situation.

Israeli Legislation and Its Uses

Immediately after occupying the eastern part of Jerusalem, Israel declared it subject to Israeli civil law,5 while declaring the rest of the occupied Arab territories, including the Sinai and the Syrian Golan, subject to military rule.6 Israeli law in East Jerusalem was extended over the land (annexation) and not over the Palestinian population, who were granted residency status and not citizenship, unchanged until today. The extension of Israeli law over Jerusalem in 1967 was made by executive decision based on orders issued by the Israeli government. Perhaps with the intention of subduing international reaction, the Israeli Knesset passed legislation for these decisions in 1980, issued as “Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel.”7 Initially this law included five basic points: unified Jerusalem constitutes the capital of Israel;8 Jerusalem is the seat of Israeli political institutions – the presidency, government, the Knesset, and the Supreme Court; the holy places shall be protected from desecration and religious members shall be protected from any violation of free access to holy places or of their feelings to those places; Jerusalem shall enjoy special funds including an annual grant from the government for its development and welfare of inhabitants, and special priority from state authorities for economic and other benefits. …

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