Former Labor and Kadima Party minister Haim Ramon has come up with a new proposal to divide Israel’s “indivisible” reunited ancient capital, Jerusalem.
Ramon told reporters this week that Israel cannot depend on its enemies “being stupid forever.” If the Arabs were clever, “they would decide instead of the knife to use the vote,” he warned. Ahead of that disaster, Ramon said he has come up with a unilateral plan to stymie the chance of an Arab-majority win in local Jerusalem mayoral elections some day.
His plan, dubbed “Saving Jewish Jerusalem,” has had the interesting effect of at least uniting nearly all people, Jewish and Arab, against the proposal if nothing else.
IDF reserve colonel Shaul Arieli, a map specialist, helped formulate the plan, which would unilaterally separate the two populations. He sees this as an interim solution in the absence of final status talks, and told the New York Times that it shows the Israelis “nothing is holy.”
The bottom line for Arieli is as he says, “What is it we want to keep?”
MK Michael Oren likewise has proposed his own measures to address the problem, at least in an interim fashion. But he too acknowledges the issue is one of demographics: Israel has a strategic interest in maintaining a Jewish majority in the capital of the Jewish State,” he said. He added, however, there are many ways to do that.
Ramon’s plan calls for all of the areas in which Jews are living – some 200,000 people – to stay on the Jewish side of Jerusalem.
But not so for some 300,000 Arab residents who comprise a third of Jerusalem and hold permanent residency status. Despite having been offered Israeli citizenship, they have chosen to reject it for various reasons – and Ramon would now allow their choice in full.
These people would remain on the other side of the fence, where the PA has for so long demanded territory for a capital to lead the development of a new Jew-free Arab state cheek-and-jowl with Israel.
Trumpeted as a “solution” by the left-leaning Labor party and promoted by Israeli liberals, the plan would involve walling or fencing off the Arab-majority neighborhoods in the city.
The fate of their residents would be handed over to the tender mercies of the Palestinian Authority administration in Ramallah, together with the mitigating influence of the IDF’s Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria.
So far, all sides have rejected it, including leaders in the Palestinian Authority.
Former Likud Defense Minister and Israeli Ambassador to the United States Moshe Arens wrote in a column that such a move “has become essentially impossible.” Withdrawing residency rights from Arabs living in Jerusalem is “legally questionable and morally reprehensible,” Arens points out.
Former head negotiator for the Palestinian Authority Saeb Erekat (who recently advocated a “complete economic separation” from Israel) called the plan “racist.” Erekat is currently the secretary-general for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and possibly the heir apparent to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.
The New York Times quoted Erekat who angrily pointed out that “thousands of Jerusalemites will be separated from their schools, hospitals, religious sites and also their properties… even members of the so-called progressive Israeli camp are falling into the same policies of the Israeli right.”
The leftist ‘Ir Amin’ group also charged the plan was “detached from any understanding of the fabric of daily life in Jerusalem” – and that from a group that wants to see the holy city as a dual capital for the Jewish State and a Palestinian Authority State too.
So far, no one actually agrees with this plan; but no one has yet reached any other solution either, including the Arab residents of Jerusalem, many of who quietly confide when asked, they would vastly prefer the entire question simply disappear into thin air. None really want to move into the Palestinian Authority and live there “for good.”Hana Levi Julian