JERUSALEM – Palestinian Authority security forces directed traffic several times this month in the eastern sections of Jerusalem, according to multiple witnesses speaking to WND.
The moves, if verified, would mark a major escalation in PA activities in Jerusalem.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas three times this month quietly visited Beir Hanina, a largely Arab town in eastern Jerusalem. Each time, his convoy passed through French Hill, a northeastern Jerusalem community that is largely Jewish.
One local witness driving through French Hill last week while Abbas’ convoy passed told WND he was stopped by uniformed Palestinian police, who asked him to wait until the motorcade passed.
Two witnesses in Beit Hanina earlier this month also said they personally witnessed uniformed PA police direct traffic in that area for Abbas’ two previous visits there. While Beit Hanina is largely Arab, it falls entirely within the Jerusalem municipal district, with security provided by the Israeli police.
According to Israeli law, the PA is not allowed to operate in Jerusalem.
Abbas’ office bureau refused to confirm or deny whether the PA directed traffic in any Jerusalem area for the Palestinian leader’s trip. The bureau told WND only that the Israeli police were responsible for Abbas’ visit, but that the police coordinated with PA security forces.
Shmulik Ben Ruby, a spokesman for the Jerusalem police strongly, denied any knowledge of the PA police operating in Jerusalem during Abbas’ trip.
“We don’t know anything about it,” he told WND. “The PA police are not allowed to operate in east Jerusalem.”
However, WND previously exposed that the PA police were operating for some civilian matters in peripheral eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods, a contention later admitted by Ben Ruby.
“If there are fights between some local families, sometimes we involve the PA police to make peace between the families,” he told WND. “Yes, the PA police can operate in these neighborhoods in coordination with the IDF and Border Police.”
Israeli security officials previously told WND the local Jerusalem police rarely operate in several Arab-majority eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods, including Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis; instead security has been turned over to the Israel Defense Forces and Border Police, who work almost daily with PA security forces. The PA police operate in the Jerusalem neighborhoods in coordination with Israel.
Arabs illegally are squatting in those neighborhoods, constructing homes on Jewish-owned land.
Israel has already forfeited Jerusalem?
Sections of Jerusalem have essentially been forfeited on the ground to the PA, while Jews, including local landowners, are barred from entering parts of Israel’s capital, a WND investigation found in March.
The probe further determined the U.S. has been aiding the Palestinians in developing infrastructure in Jerusalem.
Also, it has emerged, the Israeli government has failed to stop Arabs from illegally building thousands of housing projects on Jerusalem land purchased and owned by a U.S. Jewish group for the express purpose of Jewish settlement, culminating in an Arab majority in the neighborhoods.
The situation has been unfolding in the northern Jerusalem neighborhoods of Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis, which are close to the Jewish neighborhoods of Neve Yaacov and Pisgat Zeev in Israel’s capital. Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis are located entirely within the Jerusalem municipality.
A tour of the three Jerusalem neighborhoods in question finds some surprising developments. Official PA logos and placards abound, including one glaring red street sign at the entrance to the neighborhoods warning Israelis to keep out.
Another official sign, this one in Kfar Akeb in Jerusalem, reads in English, “Ramallah-Jerusalem Road. This project is a gift form (sic) the American people to the Palestinian people in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and PECDAR. 2007.”
The sign bears the emblems of the American and PA governments and of the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID. The displays were not present during a previous WND tour of the neighborhoods in 2006.
Some local schools in the Jerusalem neighborhoods are officially run by the PA – some in conjunction with the U.N. – with many teachers drawing PA salaries. Civil disputes are usually settled not in Israeli courts but by the PA judicial system, although at times Israeli courts are used depending on the matter.
Councils governed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization oversee some municipal matters. USAID provides the PA funds for road and infrastructure projects.
Jews barred from sections of Jerusalem
In another recent development, Israeli Jews, including local property owners, have been almost entirely barred from entering Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis, while Israeli Arabs can freely enter.
Aryeh King, a nationalist activist who holds the power of attorney to some Kfar Akeb land owned by an Israeli Jew, told WND he was barred several times during the past few months from entering the neighborhood to administer to the land, upon which local Arabs illegally constructed apartments.
Police spokesman Ben Ruby explained this new arrangement is due to security concerns.
“It’s quite dangerous to be there alone, so if they don’t have to be there it’s not allowed, because they might find themselves in danger if they go in,” said Ben Ruby.
In 2002, in response to the outbreak one year earlier of the Palestinian intifada, or terrorist war against the Jewish state, the Israeli government constructed its security barrier blocking off the West Bank from Jewish population zones. The route of the fence also cut into northern and eastern Jerusalem, incorporating Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis on the so-called Palestinian side.
Israel recaptured northern and eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – during the 1967 Six-Day War. The Palestinians, however, have claimed eastern Jerusalem as a future capital. About 244,000 Arabs live in Jerusalem, mostly in eastern neighborhoods, out of a total population of 724,000, the majority Jewish.
Jews lived in Kfar Akeb, Qalandiya and Samir Amis years before the establishment of Israel in 1948, but they were violently expelled during deadly Arab riots in 1929.
Jordan, together with other Arab countries, attacked Israel after its founding in 1948 and administered the three Jerusalem neighborhoods as well as all of eastern Jerusalem following an armistice agreement. In 1967, Jordan attacked again and Israel liberated the entire city of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War. During the period of Jordanian control, some new construction took place, including in areas previously purchased by Jews.
According to Israeli law, the PA cannot officially meet in Jerusalem. The PA previously maintained a de facto headquarters in Jerusalem, called Orient House, but the building was closed down by Israel in 2001 following a series of suicide bombings in Jerusalem. Israel said it had information indicating the House was used to plan and fund terrorism.
Thousands of documents and copies of bank certificates and checks captured by Israel from Orient House – including many documents obtained by WND – showed the offices were used to finance terrorism, including direct payments to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group
U.S. Jewish group to blame for ‘division’ of Jerusalem?
Key land in Qalandiya and Kfar Akeb is owned by a U.S. Jewish group that over the years has allowed tens of thousands of Arabs to illegally squat on its land, resulting in the current Arab majority.
The Jewish National Fund, or JNF, purchased the land in the early 1920s using Jewish donor funds for the specific purpose of Jewish settlement.
The JNF lands have been utilized for the illegal construction of dozens of Arab apartment buildings, a refugee camp and a U.N. school.
A previous tour of Qalandiya and Kfar Akeb found dozens of Arab apartment complexes, a Palestinian refugee camp and a U.N. school for Palestinians constructed on the land.
According to officials in Israel’s Housing Ministry, Arabs first constructed facilities illegally in Qalandiya and Kfar Akeb between 1948 and 1967, prior to the 1967 Six-Day War during which Israel retook control of the entire city of Jerusalem.
Qalandiya, still owned by JNF, came under the management of the Israeli government’s Land Authority in the late 1960s.
Ministry officials say the bulk of illegal Arab construction in Qalandiya occurred in the past 20 years, with construction of several new Arab apartment complexes taking place in just the past two years.
Neither the Israeli government nor JNF took any concrete measures to stop the illegal building, which continues today with at least one apartment complex in Qalandiya under construction.
Land in another Jerusalem neighborhood, Shoafat, which has an estimated value of $3 million, was also purchased by JNF in the early 1900s and fell under the management of the Israel Land Authority about 40 years ago. Much of the illegal Arab construction in Shoafat took place in the past 15 years, with some apartment complexes built as late as 2004.
In Qalandiya and Shoafat, Israel’s security fence cordons off the Arab sections of the JNF lands from the rest of Jewish Jerusalem.
Internal JNF documents obtained by WND outline illegal Arab construction on the Jewish-owned land. A December 2000 survey of Qalandiya summarized on JNF stationery and signed by a JNF worker states, “In a lot of the plots I find Arabs are living and building illegally and also working the JNF land without permission.”
The JNF survey goes on to document illegal construction of Arab apartment complexes and the U.N. school under the property management of Israel’s Land Authority.
Group misleading donors?
In response to a previous WND exclusive report on the JNF’s alleged mismanagement of the properties, JNF CEO Russell Robinson sent statements to concerned donors that the illegal construction occurred during periods the Jerusalem land was occupied by Jordan.
1991 photo of Shoafat shows region entirely forest land
“During that time the Jordanian government oversaw all activities, including the U.N. building. Under international law, this makes matters pertaining to the land more complicated than what [WND describes],” states Robinson’s letter.
1967 aerial photo of Qalandiya region
But WND obtained aerial photos of the two JNF sites in question, Shoafat and Qalandiya, which Robinson claimed were illegally built upon prior to 1967.
A photo taken in 1991 of Shoafat shows the entire area was a forest – meaning all illegal Arab construction took place after 1967 while the land was under Jewish control.
An aerial photo taken in 1967 of the second site, Qalandiya, which is now a large Arab town, finds construction of a U.N. building but few other sites, indicating the vast majority of Arab construction – dozens of large apartment complexes – occurred under JNF control. WND originally reported some of the construction took place prior to 1967, but the bulk of the building occurred the past few years, under Jewish management.