The “East Jerusalem” we know today was invented by the State of Israel shortly after the Six Days War (of 1967). It was created to allow Israel the annexation of some surrounding areas previously belonging to the West Bank. This military and political sleight of hand had managed to deceive the Israeli government and public at the time, and both the international Media and the Israeli public still accept today the veracity of the counterfeit term “East Jerusalem”. The annexation did not only include “The Old City”. In fact, the invention of “East Jerusalem” came to be only after the Old City was fully annexed to Israel.
Shortly after the war, and after the annexation of the Old City, a government resolution in stark contrast with the government’s formal position, was executed, practically without any discussion. The authors of this resolution were committee members affiliated with the vice minister of justice. The purpose of this committee was to devise and orchestrate the technical operation in which the annexation was to take place (Urban planning, municipal integration, et cetera). These committee members included urban planners, academics and professionals. These notwithstanding, the life and soul of that committee was Rehavam Ze’evi, an IDF Major General at the time, who revealed his political far-right views following his discharge from the IDF: All Arabs living west of the Jordan river are to be transferred or relocated. Ze’evi, as the committee “security professional”, proposed the addition of some provinces surrounding the city of Jerusalem for “security measures”, despite the fact that his position did not represent the IDF General Staff.
And, to no one’s great surprise, the government, instead of simply resolving to annex The 1 sq. km of the Old City, (or 6-7 sq. km of what was the part of Jerusalem under Jordanian rule; see map, in orange), further territories, from the north, east and south of the city were also included as “East Jerusalem”. Over night, and by fiat, Jerusalem grew by a total of 70 sq. km (!), including 28 Palestinian villages and lands populated by approximately 68,000 Palestinians. For comparison’s sake, the area of “West Jerusalem” was about 38 sq. km. In other words, while only a tiny fraction of the city of Jerusalem was under Jordanian control until 1967, almost all of the territories seized by Israel after the war, and most of what is now called “Jerusalem”, are, in fact, a hodgepodge of West Bank territories, that were never part of the city of Jerusalem. Needless to say, this little political-military magic trick had, and has political, economical, moral and bureaucratic consequences to this day. The reality is that all “pseudo-Jerusalem” territories are, in fact, Jewish settlements, illegitimately affiliated with Jerusalem. therefore – “East Jerusalem” is an Israeli invention.
Political scientist Moshe Amirav (Carmel, 2007, Jerusalem Syndrome, , in Hebrew; p. 150), states that the purpose of the annexation was to provide Israel with “as much territory as possible with the smallest Arab population possible”. This claim is echoed by historian Hillel Cohen, the then vice-mayor Miron Benbenishti, and the municipal engineer at the time, Amir Cheshin. Amirav explains how the annexation was carried out despite the formal position of politicians, urban planners, municipal officials, et cetera, and ignored the urban, demographic and economical problems that would ensue. Meticulous analyses of government records, and interviews with decision makers, teach us that the “great annexation” was, in fact, a blundering amalgamation of misdirection and obfuscation authored by various Israeli ministers, coupled with petty micro-politics, all of which took place without any serious discussion. Consequently, we pay direly for this blatant chicanery to this day. We also see that the occupation has no master plan.
At the same time, the word “Jerusalem” is used to mislead the public. Here we have an annexation of territories that have nothing to do with the city of Jerusalem itself, which makes cynical use of the effect the name has on Israeli Jews. This deception is being used to market and legitimize Jewish settlements in the West Bank near the real Jerusalem, and in territories north, south and east of it, as neighborhoods within it.
However, the disparity between the name “Jerusalem” and what “Jerusalem” actually means was not born in 1967. Until Christians, (followed by the Muslims and Jews), went out and expanded beyond the Old City of Jerusalem, only about 160 years ago(!), “Jerusalem” was a tiny stretch of land that maintained its size for thousands of years. Thus,, the divine presence, in fact, does not reside in Pisgat Ze`ev, Ramot or Gilo, and its blessed wings were never spread in “Zion Square”. “Jerusalem”, to which we ascribe extraordinary holiness and historical significance, is, at most, a single squared kilometer, surrounded by walls. Contrast this to the 124 squared kilometer municipal giant that it has become today. Yes, less then 1% of today’s Jerusalem, is the actual Jerusalem.
In order to deal with the “demographic threat” that was created, that is, that we – Israelis – have created, Israel initiated a policy for accelerated Jewish settlement construction and development, and policies for “Arab emigration encouragement” in territories annexed to Jerusalem. Since then and until today, dozens of Jewish neighborhoods were built on these Palestinian lands, and not a single new Palestinian neighborhood had been constructed or planned. Between one third to one half of the territories in “East Jerusalem” were designated “Jewish”, and today, already half of the denizens of “East Jerusalem” are Jews. The Jewish neighborhoods/settlements that were founded offered cheap housing for Jewish residents, within West Bank territory. All of this was done, of course, without ever spelling out the fact that these neighborhoods were not even part of Jerusalem, but are actually situated beyond the Green Line, and/or in the occupied West Bank. Under the guise of “Jerusalem”, these settlements were constructed and put under the municipal authority of Jerusalem. Seemingly, this was a municipal decision, while in fact it was a political one.
For Palestinians living in these territories, this process (which is still undergoing today) means displacement and dispossession. Even during the 1967 war, in which Israel had no municipal authority or even dominion over “East Jerusalem”, and per the request of the mayor of Jerusalem, the IDF demolished the Maghrabeh (Mugrabim) neighborhood in the middle of the night, rendering its 135 families homeless. As the Palestinian residents refused to evacuate their homes, the IDF decided to proceed with the bulldozing. An old Palestinian woman, Raji Rasmia Tabaki, was killed as her own house toppled over her, and this was enough to allow the destruction of the entire neighborhood. These neighborhood houses were followed by many other homes that were bulldozed using a variety of different excuses. The number of Jewish houses demolished in Jerusalem is next to zero. The odds a Palestinian has for receiving a building permit in Jerusalem are next to nothing, and so under legal excuses Palestinian houses are being demolished, despite the fact that these houses are actually situated in occupied territories, where Israeli law has no legitimacy. The Israeli declared agenda is to “encourage” Palestinians to leave their homes, in Jerusalem and elsewhere, using cruel and racist measures, and by so leaving, the Palestinians in Jerusalem would lose all legal privileges for themselves and their property (they are bound by these rights to stay in Jerusalem).
To this day, not a single world nation recognizes Israel’s sovereignty in so called “East Jerusalem”. A free tour of “Ir-Amim” invites you to see for yourself what “East Jerusalem” looks like.