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Quick Takes, News From Israel You May Have Missed

      It was a hot July day in the holy city. The elegant King David Hotel was preparing for the arrival within hours of then-U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama, who was visiting Israel on a whirlwind tour of Europe and the Middle East.
 
      Just down the street from the King David, a few hundred feet away on Keren Hayesod Street, a massive bulldozer rammed into pedestrians and oncoming traffic, injuring nineteen people, including a mother and her infant and a man whose leg was severed.
 
      The attack stopped only when an armed civilian and a border policeman shot the bulldozer terrorist dead. Twenty-two-year-old Hassan Abu Tir, an Israeli citizen living in an Arab eastern Jerusalem neighborhood, was later identified as the driver.
 
      Just days after the second bulldozer attack in July, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert used the terrorist rampage to propound the message that Israel needs to cede largely Arab eastern sections of Jerusalem to the Palestinians.
 
      Benjamin Netanyahu now holds the reigns of power and it remains unclear what his policy on Jerusalem will be in negotiations with the Palestinians. But years of Israeli decisions have already essentially forfeited sections of Jerusalem on the ground to the Palestinian Authority, while Jews, including local landowners, are barred from entering parts of Israel’s capital.
 
      The situation has been unfolding in the northern Jerusalem neighborhoods of Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis, which are close to the Jewish neighborhoods of Neve Yaakov and Pisgat Zeev in Israel’s capital. Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis are located entirely within the Jerusalem municipality.
 
      A tour of the three Jerusalem neighborhoods in question finds some surprising developments. Official PA logos and placards abound, including one glaring red street sign at the entrance to the neighborhoods warning Israelis to keep out.
 
      Another official sign, this one in Kfar Akeb in Jerusalem, reads in English: “Ramallah-Jerusalem Road. This project is a gift form [sic] the American people to the Palestinian people in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and PECDAR. 2007.”
 
      Some local schools in the Jerusalem neighborhoods are officially run by the PA – some in conjunction with the UN – with many teachers drawing PA salaries. Civil disputes are usually settled not in Israeli courts but by the PA judicial system, although at times Israeli courts are used depending on the matter.
 
      Councils governed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization oversee some municipal matters. USAID provides the PA funds for road and infrastructure projects.
 
      Israeli security officials say the local Jerusalem police rarely operate in Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis; instead, security has been turned over to the Israel Defense Forces and Border Police, who work almost daily with PA security forces. The PA police operate in the Jerusalem neighborhoods in coordination with Israel.
 
      Shmulik Ben Ruby, a spokesman for the Jerusalem police, confirmed the arrangement.
 
      In another recent development, Israeli Jews, including local property owners, have been almost entirely barred from entering Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis, while Israeli Arabs can freely enter.
 
      Aryeh King, a nationalist activist who holds the power of attorney to some Kfar Akeb land owned by an Israeli Jew, told this reporter that he was barred several times during the past few months from entering the neighborhood to administer the land, upon which local Arabs illegally constructed apartments.
 
      Police spokesman Ben Ruby explained this new arrangement is due to security concerns.
 
      “It’s quite dangerous to be there alone,” he said, “so if they don’t have to be there it’s not allowed, because they might find themselves in danger if they go in.”
 
      In 2002, in response to the outbreak a little over a year earlier of the Palestinian intifada, the Israeli government constructed its security barrier blocking off the West Bank from Jewish population zones. The route of the fence also cut into northern and eastern Jerusalem, incorporating Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis on the so-called Palestinian side.
 
      Israel recaptured northern and eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – during the 1967 Six-Day War. The Palestinians, however, have claimed eastern Jerusalem as a future capital. About 244,000 Arabs live in Jerusalem, mostly in eastern neighborhoods, out of a total population of 724,000, the majority of which is Jewish.
 
      Jews lived in Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis years before the establishment of Israel in 1948 but were violently expelled during deadly Arab riots in 1929.
 
      The recent barring of Jews from northern Jerusalem sections seems to coincide with an Israeli government decision to allow the PA some presence in Jerusalem.
 
      Last June, Olmert allowed the PA to hold an official meeting in the city to discuss dealing with expected Palestinian sovereignty over key sections of the city. Dmitri Ziliani, a spokesman for the Jerusalem section of the Fatah party, confirmed to this column that the meeting was related to the activities and structure of Fatah’s local command in some neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
 
      “We were covering the best ways to improve our performance on the street and how we can be of service to the community,” Ziliani said, adding that the regular PA meetings in Jerusalem are, in part, held in anticipation of a future Palestinian state encompassing all of eastern Jerusalem.
 
      According to Israeli law, the PA cannot officially meet in Jerusalem. The PA previously maintained a de facto headquarters in Jerusalem, called Orient House, but the building was closed down by Israel in 2001 following a series of suicide bombings in Jerusalem. Israel said it had information indicating the House was used to plan and fund terrorism.
 
      Thousands of documents and copies of bank certificates and checks captured by Israel from Orient House – including many documents obtained by this column – showed the offices were used to finance terrorism, including direct payments to the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades terror group.
 
      Key land in Qalandiya and Kfar Akeb is owned by the Jewish National Fund, a U.S. Jewish group that over the years has allowed tens of thousands of Arabs to illegally squat on its land, resulting in the current Arab majority.
 
      Qalandiya, still owned by JNF, came under the management of the Israeli government’s Land Authority in the late 1960s. Ministry officials say the bulk of illegal Arab construction in Qalandiya occurred in the past 20 years, with construction of several new Arab apartment complexes taking place in just the past two years.
 
      Neither the Israeli government nor the U.S. Jewish group took any concrete measures to stop the illegal building, which continues today with at least one apartment complex in Qalandiya under construction.
 
      Land in another Jerusalem neighborhood, Shoafat, which has an estimated value of $3 million, was also purchased by Jews in the early 1900s and fell under the management of the Israel Land Authority about 40 years ago. Much of the illegal Arab construction in Shoafat took place in the past 15 years, with some apartment complexes built as late as 2004.
 

      In Qalandiya and Shoafat, Israel’s security fence cordons off the Arab sections of JNF lands from the rest of Jewish Jerusalem.

 

                        Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the book “Schmoozing with Terrorists.”

About the Author: Aaron Klein is a New York Times bestselling author and senior reporter for WND.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 970 AM Radio on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern. His website is KleinOnline.com.


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