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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Dividing Jerusalem will worsen demographic problem

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I believe that the so-called 'demographic time bomb' is a fraud based on fraudulent statistics. But it is one of the 'rationales' presented by Israel's left, led by sexual predator and Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon, and even by Yisrael Beteinu's Avigdor Lieberman on the 'right,' for dividing Jerusalem.

A new report out from a leftist think tank - the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies - concludes that dividing Jerusalem will not contribute to the disarming of the so-called demographic time bomb. In fact, writes Evelyn Gordon in the Jerusalem Post, it will only make matters worse. And at great financial (and security, but I left out that part because I have discussed it before) cost.
Thus while Israel can cede east Jerusalem neighborhoods, it cannot cede east Jerusalem residents, the report says: They would have to be offered the option of moving elsewhere in Israel. And it requires no great intelligence to realize that most of them would exercise that option - not because they love Israel, but because Israel has jobs, and the Palestinian Authority does not.

The power of this motive can be seen in Palestinian migration patterns since 2000. Because Israel virtually ceased granting work permits to Palestinians after the intifada began, those who work here now are generally doing so illegally. As illegals, they live in constant fear of arrest, and they are frequently brutally exploited, since they cannot complain to the authorities for fear of deportation. Moreover, they literally risk their lives to get here: Every year, some Palestinian job-seekers are shot while crossing the border because the security forces mistook them for terrorists.

Clearly, nobody who was not desperate would come here under such circumstances. Yet in fact, some 100,000 Palestinians are thought to be working illegally in Israel, and the security services say that dozens, and sometimes even hundreds, of Palestinians attempt the border crossing every day.

GIVEN THIS reality, it is inconceivable that 200,000 east Jerusalem Arabs would give up the right to do legally what tens of thousands of their brethren risk their lives to do illegally - namely, work in Israel. Almost certainly, most would opt to remain.

But not only would dividing the city do nothing to improve Israel's demographic balance, it would significantly worsen Israel's financial balance: Since permanent residents and citizens have almost identical rights, the report said, residents of any neighborhoods Israel cedes would be entitled to compensation, whether they choose to go or stay.

Those who choose to remain Israeli residents will, like the Gaza settlers, have been forced to leave their homes by a government decision to withdraw from the areas in question. They could thus presumably demand the same compensation: for their homes, for moving expenses and, in the case of those who would be giving up local jobs or businesses, for loss of income as well. Those who opt to remain in their homes and give up their Israeli residency, in contrast, will lose valuable benefits such as Israeli health insurance and social security. And since that loss, again, will have resulted from Israel's decision to abandon these areas, they, too, would be entitled to compensation, JIIS argues.

In short, dividing Jerusalem would more than triple the amount of compensation Israel would have to pay its own residents under any agreement. Hitherto, most Israelis have assumed that at most some 80,000 settlers (those outside the settlement blocs) would have to be evacuated and compensated. But if JIIS is correct, dividing Jerusalem would raise the number of Israeli residents entitled to compensation to some 280,000.
I hope none of you expect Israel's left to listen to its own 'think tank' and drop the idea. You'd be sadly mistaken. They won't drop it. Recall that one of the secularists' goals is to expose Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox population to 'Palestinian' attacks. That goal will be well-served by dividing the city, even if the financial and other costs to Israel are astronomical. And in the end, 'getting' the ultra-Orthodox is the most important goal of all.


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