The Ministerial Committee for Symbols and Ceremonies, chaired by Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, has approved the minister’s proposal that the main theme of this year’s Independence Day will be “the jubilee of the reunification of Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”
There is nothing more far removed from reality and from the truth than the slogan “united Jerusalem.” United Jerusalem apparently exists only in the imagination of Minister Regev and the government.
Jerusalem is divided and separated. “The capital of the Jewish people” is not Jewish; it is a bi-national city. About 40 percent of its residents are Palestinian. Among Jerusalem’s young residents (18 years or younger), about 60 percent are Palestinian. The main cause for that is the historic mistake of annexing 22 Palestinian villages and refugee camps made by the national Likud government in 1967. They never belonged to historical Jerusalem. Jabel Mukaber and Sue Baher, Shuafat, Qalandiya and everything in between belonged to the West Bank.
Most of the terrorists who have carried out attacks in the past year came from those villages, which have some 220,000 Palestinian residents living in astounding poverty. Most of them are dominated by gangs of criminals and terrorists, and the state’s authorities avoid entering or ruling over them with an iron fist.
In the latest governmental ranking of local authorities, Jerusalem was dropped to “cluster No. 3” at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. It has become the poorest city in Israel, apart from Beit Shemesh and the Arab cities.
In Regev’s “united Jerusalem,” most Palestinian students study according to the Palestinian Authority’s curriculum, which the Israeli government has often defined as programs that incite hatred against Israel and the Jewish people. All this is being funded by the Israeli taxpayer. Luckily, at the moment, the Palestinians who have a right to elect the Jerusalem mayor are refraining from participating in the elections, but nothing lasts forever, and it’s possible that Regev will celebrate the “united” city’s 55th anniversary with a Palestinian mayor.
Granted, all Israeli governments ignored the historic mistake and barely did anything to fix the distorted situation or improve the horrible reality in the annexed villages. I am certain that Regev has not invested a penny from her ministry’s budget in improving the culture and sports situation among the Palestinians annexed to Jerusalem, nor does she have any intention of funding a single event from the “united Jerusalem celebrations” in Sur Baher or Jabel Mukaber. In fact, the Israeli government does not see these neighborhoods as part of Jerusalem or the State of Israel.
I am therefore calling on Regev not to bury her head in the sand and not to deceive herself and the public, but to take a look at reality and declare the next Independence Day as “the year of saving Jewish Jerusalem.” That requires, first and foremost, the construction of a full, improved and monitored security barrier, which will separate the 22 Palestinian villages from Jewish Jerusalem. And most importantly, it requires fixing the mistake made after the Six-Day War and amending Basic Law: Jerusalem to return the Palestinian villages and refugees camps to Areas B and C, where the IDF and Shin Bet are in charge of security. The residents of these villages will be treated like the residents of the PA’s nearby villages around Jerusalem, such as Abu Dis, al-Eizariya, Hizma and Beit Iksa. Clearly, this amendment will revoke the residents’ permanent residency certificate.
Jewish Jerusalem and all its neighborhoods, the Old City and its alleys, the Holy Basin and and the Mount Scopus and Mount of Olives mountain range will remain under Israeli sovereignty after the law is amended. This entire area will be surrounded by a complete security barrier. Jewish Jerusalem will be saved from all aspects—security-related, demographic and economic—and next year we will be able to celebrate “the year of united Jewish Jerusalem.”
Haim Ramon served as minister of Jerusalem affairs and is one of the founders of the Save Jewish Jerusalem movement.