SIR – Daniel Teegan wrote in his letter of September 2nd that ‘Israeli policies in occupied East Jerusalem have extended from two central strategies. The first is to create a Jewish majority in the city through the establishment of “Jewish-only” settlements. The second pursues the same goal by reducing the Palestinian population ...’
If those were its policies, they have been singularly unsuccessful. There are no laws defining where Jews can live and where Muslims can live in Jerusalem, or in Israel generally for that matter. In parts of East Jerusalem where new Jewish communities have been established there are significant Arab minorities living amongst them.
In June 1967, when Jordan attacked Israel shelling the vicinity of the Knesset and the Israel Museum in West Jerusalem and capturing the UN Middle East HQ in no-man’s land, Muslims constituted about 21% of the population of Jerusalem and Jews about 74%. In 2015, Muslims constituted 36% of the population and Jews about 61%, so the proportion of Muslims in Jerusalem has gone up from 21% to 36% and the proportion of Jews has gone down from 74% to 61%.
Clearly there was a much bigger Jewish majority in the city before the start of this singularly unsuccessful policy.
What is now called East Jerusalem is the part of Jerusalem that the Jordanian army took over in 1948. For well over 100 years before Britain captured it in WW1, the Jews were the largest ethnic group there.
They were forced out as a result of Arab violence during the British Mandate, especially during the Arab Revolt of 1936-1939 and during the fighting at, and just after, the end of the mandate. The last Jews in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City were ethnically cleansed by Jordanian army.
No Jews were deported or transferred into East Jerusalem. All those who moved there did so of their own volition. There is nothing illegal in allowing Jews back into their holy city. (The holiest site in Judaism is in East Jerusalem).
The former president of the World Court, Justice Steven Schwebel wrote an article explaining and supporting the legal grounds for Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem.
Jews have lived in the area that the West refers to as East Jerusalem for thousands of years except during periods when they were expelled by foreign rulers. Most of the Jewish communities in East Jerusalem that are surrounded by Arab populations are based around properties from which the Jews were ethnically cleansed in the 1930s and 1940s, such as the Jewish Quarter (Old City), Shimon HaTzadik (Sheikh Jarrah), Kfar Shiloah (Silwan), Atarot (near Qalandia) and Neve Yaacov, and many of the nearby Arab communities were not there when those Jewish communities were established.
Many polls of the Arab population of Jerusalem have shown that they do not want the city to be divided again and that in the event of a peace agreement, they would rather that it was part of Israel. This is not surprising.
The Arabs of Jerusalem have the same rights as the Jews of Jerusalem. They are considerably better off than most of their neighbours in the Middle East and are far better off than those living under the corrupt totalitarian regimes of the Palestine Authority and Hamas.
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