After Camp David, Jerusalem was highlighted as one of the thorniest so-called final status issues blocking an Israeli-Palestinian deal. Now, as the peace process stalls and stutters, “facts on the ground” in illegally-annexed East Jerusalem mean that talk of a Palestinian capital in the eastern part of the city is fantasy.
In the more than 40 years that Israel has militarily occupied the West Bank, the Green Line – Israel’s pre-1967 borders – has been erased by the likes of illegal settlements, and road networks. Nowhere is this absorption of the Occupied Territories more apparent than in East Jerusalem, where close to 200,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements built in municipal boundaries that were expanded by Israel to include West Bank land.
Reality in East Jerusalem in 2010 means municipal policies – supported by the Israeli state – that fly in the face of international law: Palestinian homes are demolished, the illegal separation wall carves up Palestinian neighborhoods, and residency rights are revoked.
The gaping disparity between Israeli officials’ rhetoric in the West and their practice on the ground is no starker than in East Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat assure journalists and diplomats that the city is “open” and “free” for all its inhabitants, the facts tell a different story – one of exclusion and discriminatory municipal policies.