JERUSALEM – It hadn’t been a full week since a Palestinian Arab went on a bulldozer rampage on the streets of Jerusalem and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his cronies yesterday used the terror attack to their political advantage.
“Whoever thinks it’s possible to live with 270,000 Arabs in (eastern) Jerusalem must take into account that there will be more bulldozers, more tractors, and more cars carrying out [terror] attacks,” Olmert said, referring to two incidents this month in which Palestinian residents of eastern Jerusalem deliberately plowed bulldozers into pedestrians, buses and passenger vehicles, leaving three dead in the case of the first attack.
The second attack took place last Tuesday, just a few hundred feet from the Jerusalem hotel in which Sen. Barack Obama was staying during his visit here.
Olmert’s obvious implication is that there are too many Arabs in eastern Jerusalem; that those neighborhoods are increasingly fundamentalist and ungovernable; and that Israel must therefore separate itself from eastern Jerusalem.
To drive the point home, Vice Premier Chaim Ramon, a top Olmert deputy, spelled it out to the Knesset:
“Whoever thinks the problem of Jerusalem and terror are specific, and that destroying one house or another will help, is burying his head in the sand. The main question is, does the government want Jebl Mukaber or Sur Bahir as part of Israel or not.”
Ramon was naming eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods that are the hometowns of recent perpetuators of terror attacks in Jewish sections of Jerusalem, including the terrorist shooter who gunned down seminary students at the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva in March, killing eight young Torah scholars in cold blood.
But Olmert and other top Israeli leaders and even U.S. Jewish groups are responsible for the current situation. They allowed Arabs to illegally construct tens of thousands of housing complexes in eastern Jerusalem – including on land purchased by Jews for the express purpose of Jewish construction – turned a blind eye to illegal Arab settlement, and then let eastern Jerusalem communities become lawless Islamist zones.
Israel recaptured eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – during the 1967 Six Day War. The Palestinians have claimed eastern Jerusalem as a future capital; the area has large Arab neighborhoods, a significant Jewish population and sites holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
About 270,000 Arabs live in Jerusalem, mostly in eastern neighborhoods, and many reside in illegally constructed complexes. The city has an estimated total population of 724,000.
According to former Jerusalem municipal workers speaking to WND, during his 10 years as mayor of Jerusalem Olmert instructed city workers not to take action against illegal Arab building projects throughout eastern sections of Jerusalem, allegedly telling municipal workers the area one day would be handed to the Palestinians.
Olmert was Jerusalem mayor from 1993 to 2003. As mayor he made repeated public statements calling Jerusalem the “eternal and undivided capital” of Israel.
The municipal workers charge Olmert even instructed city officials to delete files documenting illegal Arab construction of housing units in eastern Jerusalem. Those units currently house an estimated 100,000 Arabs, say the workers.
One former municipal worker during Olmert’s mayoral tenure told WND he was moved in 1999 to a new government post after he tried to highlight the illegal Arab construction in Jerusalem. He spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for his current job
Aryeh King, chairman of the Jerusalem Forum, which promotes Jewish construction in Jerusalem, released an investigation by his group which found Olmert’s city hall deleted files documenting hundreds of illegal Arab building projects throughout eastern sections of Jerusalem. King said he forwarded his findings to Israel’s state comptroller for investigation.
King also charged Olmert told senior municipal workers not to enforce a ban on illegal Arab buildings.
The Jerusalem municipality released a statement in response to the allegations claiming the threat of Arab violence kept it from bulldozing the illegal Arab homes.
“During the years of the intifada, the municipality had difficulty carrying out the necessary level of enforcement in the neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem due to security constraints,” the statement read.
In his statements this weekend, Ramon told the Knesset areas of eastern Jerusalem, including a large, now mostly Arab neighborhood called Shoafat, are as dangerous to drive through as Jenin, a terror-ridden city in the northern West Bank.
Let’s look at Shoafat
Turns out the Jewish National Fund, a U.S.-based nonprofit that purchases land in Israel for the stated purpose of Jewish settlement, owns much of the neighborhood, in which tens of thousands of Arabs now illegally reside. The JNF is interconnected with other major U.S. Jewish groups that provide it with large sums of Jewish donor-solicited money.
A WND investigation last year found Shoafat, as well as other eastern Jerusalem areas, like Qalandiya and Kfar Akev, were purchased legally on behalf of JNF using Jewish donations in the early 1900s. Those areas are now mostly Arab.
Much of the illegal Arab construction in Shoafat took place in the past 15 years, with some apartment complexes built as late as 2004.
Internal JNF documents obtained by WND outline illegal Arab construction on the Jewish-owned land. A survey summarized on JNF stationery conducted in December 2000 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.”
So both Olmert’s mayoral office and the JNF watched as eastern Jerusalem became largely Palestinian Arab.
Next the Israeli government under multiple administrations did little to enforce law and order in eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods. The Israeli police rarely operate in those zones. Incredibly, in some eastern Jerusalem areas, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization runs community patrol organizations.
And so a terrorist infrastructure apparently has flourished in eastern Jerusalem. That infrastructure is now leading a campaign of launching attacks using eastern Jerusalem Arabs targeting Jewish neighborhoods in the city, creating a general feeling that eastern Jerusalem is ungovernable and must be separated from the rest of Jerusalem and handed over to the PA.
The timing of these recent attacks is very convenient for Olmert and PA President Mahmoud Abbas. In line with talks launched at last November’s U.S.-sponsored Annapolis Summit, the two aim to negotiate a Palestinian state before the end of the year, with Israel widely expected to offer the PA most of the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem.
Things are reversible. Israeli forces can go into troubled eastern Jerusalem hotspots and wipe out the terrorist infrastructure there if they so desired. Israel can allow Jews to build communities in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods that were purchased for that very purpose. Jerusalem does not need to be divided.
Handing over areas of Jerusalem to the PA will impede Israel’s anti-terror capabilities and will result in eastern Jerusalem becoming an Iranian-backed terrorist entity at war with the Jews. It will lead to more terror attacks, likely including rockets fired into Jewish Jerusalem homes. Christians remaining in eastern Jerusalem will be persecuted, as they always are in territory handed to the Palestinians. Freedom of worship at eastern Jerusalem’s many important holy sites will be blocked for non-Muslims.
But alas it’s clear the Olmert government is intent on maintaining the status quo of allowing eastern Jerusalem to go the way of the terrorists. More terror attacks inevitably will be carried out by eastern Jerusalem Arabs the next few months and Olmert likely will continue to use those attacks to gain support for forfeiting neighborhoods to the PA.
When Jerusalem is divided, when the holy city is split and at war we will have only the corrupt, morally bankrupt Israeli government to thank.
To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or 212-202-4453.