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August 13, 2012 3:41 pm

Handing Jerusalem to the Palestinians

avatar by Alex Ryvchin

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Jerusalem. Photo: wiki commons.

In its desire to build a case for why Jerusalem should for the first time become a capital city for an Arab nation, the Palestinian Authority has consistently attacked the notion that, in the words of historian, Sir Martin Gilbert, “the city holds the central spiritual and physical place in the history of the Jews as a people.”

Central to this position has been a concerted attempt to deny the powerful Jewish connection to Jerusalem, instead casting it is as a fundamentally Arab, Islamic and Christian city, and to characterize any Jewish presence as colonial, expansionist and a generally recent phenomenon.

Speaking on Palestinian Authority TV in August 2010, the Palestinian Minster for Religion, Mahmoud Al-Habbash claimed that Jerusalem has been, “throughout history, the capital of the Palestinian state and the capital of the Palestinian people” despite the fact that no Palestinian state has ever existed and that the Jewish people have been the only people in history to call Jerusalem their capital.

The Palestinian Authority Mufti, Muhammad Hussein took the distortion even further by stating that “there never was a Temple in any period, nor was there, at any time, any place of worship for the Jews or others at the Al-Aqsa Mosque site.”

Such sentiments are not merely confined to the religious leaders of the Palestinian national movement.

In February of this year, adviser on Jerusalem affairs to the Palestinian President’s Office, Ahmed Al-Ruweidi accused Israel of creating an “artificial” Jewish heritage in Jerusalem “at the expense of its true and authentic [identity] as an Arab, Islamic and Christian city”. A statement which not only denies the ancient Jewish connection to Jerusalem but which ignores the more recent aspects of Jerusalem’s identity, notably the fact that the city has had a Jewish majority since the 1860s.

President Abbas himself has long referred to Jerusalem as the “eternal capital of Palestine”, a statement which is fundamentally inconsistent with any recognition of Jewish claims to the city.

While many observers will quickly brush off such inflammatory falsehoods and policy statements as mere political gamesmanship by the Palestinians or the refrain of fringe elements, there is a very real concern that the concept of Jewish foreignness when it comes to Jerusalem is taking hold in the mainstream political discourse.

Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director, Malcolm Smart, has described Jewish residential projects in the eastern parts of the city as taking place on “occupied Palestinian land” which “devastate the lives and livelihoods of the Palestinians”. Characterizing east Jerusalem as “occupied Palestinian land” effectively intercedes in the dispute over the status of the city and hands it to the Palestinians. In the process, the impartiality of Amnesty International is spectacularly undermined.

Furthermore, Smart’s objection to a Jewish presence in the east of the city and his assertion that the land is Palestinian and is “occupied” by Israel both ignores the absence of a legal sovereign from which Israel could occupy the land and the Jewish connection to Jerusalem long before the resumption of Jewish life there following the end of the Jordanian hold on the city in 1967.

Smart’s displacement of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem by casting Israeli construction as an injustice perpetrated by a mere occupier against an ostensibly indigenous population, constitutes a fundamental distortion of history.

More so, the subtle manner in which the Jewish people are severed from their ancient capital, in contrast with the patent falsehoods of the Palestinian Authority referred to earlier, is precisely what makes it so dangerous – cloaked as it is in the language of international law and human rights.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Raquel Rolnik has taken things further still, employing language which bridges the gap between the rhetoric of the Palestinian Authority and of seemingly non-partisan, mainstream organizations.

Rolnik described Israeli government housing policy in Jerusalem, among other places, as “Judaization”, a slur which had previously been confined to the Palestinian Authority and radical sympathizers.

The use of the term “Judaization” (by a UN official no less) which, can be understood to denote a process by which something which is not Jewish is made so, is to deny the Jewish character of Jerusalem and to perpetuate a new and highly politicized history aimed at advancing Palestinian national aspirations, not in tandem with the development of the Jewish State, but in place of it.

Rolnik’s outrageous use of the term suggests that Jewish life in Jerusalem is somehow alien and cannot be tolerated.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of her comments is the implication that Palestinian interests can only be advanced by denying the long, unbroken Jewish connection to the land. An approach which seems fundamentally inconsistent with the idea of a mutual recognition of Jewish and Palestinian movements and a co-existence of two states borne of such movements.

It is significant that blatant distortions of history and a denial of Jewish Jerusalem have gradually shifted from the arena of the Palestinian Authority to the domain of purportedly non-partisan NGOs and the UN. Ironically, such distortions, far from advancing Palestinian national aspirations, in fact undermine the notions of mutual recognition and understanding which are essential precursors to any negotiated peace.

Alex Ryvchin is a lawyer, writer and founder of The Jewish Thinker ( ), a forum for contributing and sharing opinion pieces on matters most affecting Israel and the Jewish people. This article first appeared on

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Ed Frias

    Jerusalem has had a Jewish population majority since the late 1850s – that’s 130 years already, before ‘Palestinianism’ was invented:
    Jews were expelled from East-Jerusalem by the Jordanian occupation at 1948. They lived in East-Jerusalem for thousands of years. They returned to their homes after Jordan defeat at 1967.
    Malcolm Smart is upset that the Arabs can no longer ethnic cleanse the Jews from their historic capitol.
    ISRAEL which is defending itself against Pan-Arabism, Arab imperialism and Arabization of the Middle East – that is the “problem he doesn’t like.
    The real problem is t global Arab/Moslem insistence to spread hate, violence, wars, terrorism, lies, false accusations against Jews and reducing Jews to subhumans or second class citizens – slaves or servants – without any human rights.
    When you have Palestinian leaders teaching their people, If their are 10 Jews and you kill 6 of them, how many Jews are Left?
    When you have these same wicked leaders telling their people that Jews are the sons of Pigs and Apes.
    When you have Palestinian Mufti’s teaching in Mosques that the highest goal for a Muslim is to kill the Jews and to think Malcolm Smart supports these evil people.

  • F Callen

    “the fact that the city has had a Jewish majority since the 1860s” – only since the 1860s? Really? Or merely first documented then?

  • the International Court of Justice has ruled that all areas occupied in 1967 including east jerusalem are occupied territories and therefore the fourth geneva convention applies which bans the occupying power from transfering its population to the occupied areas.

    • Steven Case

      It’s interesting that Mr. Kuttab would write what he did, considering the Moslem leadership itself has previously admitted the Temple Mount itself, and therefore by implication, all of Jerusalem belongs to the Jews.

      In 1930, the Supreme Moslem Council published an English-language tourist guide to the Temple Mount entitled “A Brief Guide to al-Haram al-Sharif,” which stated:
      The site is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest times. Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to universal belief, on which David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.

    • Steven Case

      One more point, since Mr. Kattub refers to the International Court of Justice,Professor, Judge Schwebel, former president of the International Court of Justice in the Hague writing in What Weight to Conquest [1994]:
      “(a) a state [Israel] acting in lawful exercise of its right of self-defense may seize and occupy foreign territory as long as such seizure and occupation are necessary to its self-defense;
      “(b) as a condition of its withdrawal from such territory, that State may require the institution of security measures reasonably designed to ensure that that territory shall not again be used to mount a threat or use of force against it of such a nature as to justify exercise of self-defense;
      “(c) Where the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully [Jordan], the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense [Israel] has, against that prior holder, better title.”

      “As between Israel, acting defensively in 1948 and 1967, on the one hand, and her Arab neighbors, acting aggressively, in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has the better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem.”

      So, in effect, the Court, in deciding against Israel, would be guilty of not following its own legal definitions applicable. The implications are obvious.

    • F Callen

      Daoud, do you really have the cheek to try and steal the Capital of the Jewish people? Having temporarily expelled all Jews for the 19 years between 48 and 67 as part of your ongoing war against the Jews does not give you the right to demand that they be expelled again.

    • L. King

      It’s called Jewrusalem, habibi. The capital of “Palestine” is Ramallah. Everyone knows that. Except for the people in Gaza who think it’s either Gaza City or Beit Hanoun.

      • Yitzhak

        No, the capital of ‘Palestine’ is Amman.

        • Peter35

          Right on! It’s the ‘same old, same old’, muslims are trying to re-write history, and it’s amazing the number of naiive kafirs believing them.

    • Yitzhak

      The International Court is Justice is not competent to set aside international law that was declared and ratified in 1920 and 1922 respectively.

      • Yitzhak

        Typo: the International Court *of* Justice …

  • Let it be resolved that the sole purpose of the fabrication of the “Palestinian people” (by the Arab League, with the support of the Soviets and, later, the General Assembly of the UN) was and still is the destruction of Israel.

    Therefore, any move, statement, decision undertaken by the “Palestinians” is designed to serve their goal, i.e. the destruction of Israel.

    This charade has been on for the past 40 years, and it has, regrettably, confused the minds of many. It’s time to shed light on it.

  • David Most

    The reality of “Palestine” and “Palestinian” Arabs is radically divergent from the made-up distortions by the PA and its NGO supporters.Even a quick reading of the history of the region starting with biblical times can lead to only one logical conclusion: it was the homeland of the Jews 2,000 years ago who were forcibly driven out by the Romans and never had an Arab political body nor an Arab psycho-religious role. Jews continued their physical presence there over the succeeding generations. All claims to the contrary only prove the extent of distortions of history perpetrated by today’s “Palestinians”.