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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Red Cross gets the Times to publish report on 'East Jerusalem'

The New York Times today publishes a 'confidential' report on 'East Jerusalem' that it says was "provided to The New York Times by someone outside the organization who wanted the report’s conclusions publicized." It goes without saying that the report is critical of Israel:
The committee, which does not accept Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, says Israel is using its rights as an occupying power under international law “in order to further its own interests or those of its own population to the detriment of the population of the occupied territory.”
Whose interests do they expect us to further? With the construction of the separation barrier, the establishment of an outer ring of Jewish settlements beyond the expanded municipal boundaries and the creation of a dense road network linking the different Israeli neighborhoods and settlements in and outside Jerusalem, the report says, Israel is “reshaping the development of the Jerusalem metropolitan area” with “far-reaching humanitarian consequences.” Those include the increasing isolation of Palestinians living in Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and the increasing difficulty for some Palestinians to easily reach Jerusalem’s schools and hospitals.
The complaint about isolating 'Palestinians' living in Jerusalem from the 'rest of the West Bank' is most disingenuous. As I discussed here and here, the 'fence' has resulted in thousands of 'Palestinians' moving into Jerusalem because they don't want to live in 'Palestine.' And at least one Arab MK has complained that 150,000 'Palestinians' have left Jerusalem because of the 'fence,' so obviously they're not 'isolated in Jerusalem' either. So the question remains: about whom is the Red Cross talking? The Israeli response?
“We reject the premise of the report, that East Jerusalem is occupied territory,” said Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry. “It is not. Israel annexed Jerusalem in 1967 and offered full citizenship at the time to all of Jerusalem’s residents. These are facts that cannot be ignored.”

Israel, he said, “is committed to a diverse and pluralistic Jerusalem, to improving the conditions of all the city’s inhabitants and to protecting their interests as part of our sovereign responsibility.” He added, “If any population in Jerusalem is thriving and growing, it is the Arab population.”

He also noted that Israel made great efforts to ensure health care for Palestinians, pointing to 81,000 entry permits in 2006 for Palestinians needing care inside Israel.
I would have added that the Red Cross report totally ignores the motivation for the fence in the first place. I'm not a big fan of the fence - I believe that it doesn't take enough of Israel's security needs into account, that it is being built too close to the 'green line' and that ultimately it may God forbid end up being our border. But the bottom line is undeniable: the fence saves lives. And all the do-gooders who complain about the fence have offered no alternative that is anywhere near as effective.

The Red Cross goes on to complain about Arab housing in 'East Jerusalem.'
Palestinians argue that the building restrictions are meant to suppress the growth of the their community; the Israelis counter that zoning restrictions are imposed throughout the city.
That's an issue Caroline Glick spoke about last night:
Contrary to the Left's repeated contention that Jerusalem's Arabs are forced to build illegally because the municipality refuses to grant them construction permits, the city approved a planning scheme that provides for the construction of 32,500 new housing units in Arab neighborhoods. This is on top of 24,000 units already in various stages of the licensing process, and another 20,000 illegal structures built by Jerusalem Arabs in the past 20 years.
If you assume four people per unit, that's about 300,000 people for whom housing was built in the last twenty years or for whom it is now being built. Note - 20 years, not 40. The entire population of Jerusalem is less than 800,000. The 'Palestinian' complaint sounds ridiculous and it probably is.

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