From routine clashes in the streets, to the talk of “final status issues” by international diplomats, Arab East Jerusalem continues to be at the center of the struggle in Palestine/Israel. In recent years, there have been some particularly prominent foci: right-wing Jewish settlers and the demolition of Palestinian homes in Silwan; evictions of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah; Israel’s apartheid wall in Abu Dis. Off the radar, however, there are many localized battles as Palestinians face an intensified Israeli regime of control and colonization.
One such place is the Shu’fat refugee camp. While the fact that it is the only Palestinian refugee camp in East Jerusalem makes it unique, Shu’fat’s reality reflects a number of key Israeli strategies in East Jerusalem and the West Bank as a whole: it is surrounded by illegal Jewish-only colonies, choked by the wall and checkpoints, and considered “separate and unequal.” Read more
Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was reported to have suggested that the question of Jerusalem would be “left to last” in negotiations with the Palestinians. This was apparently on account of the issue being “too sensitive and complex,” as well as fears that talks on Jerusalem would cause the departure of religious right-wingers from Olmert’s ruling coalition.
Domestic political considerations will certainly have played a part in the prime minister’s thinking, but there is another possible motivation for leaving this “final status issue” for further down the road. In recent weeks, and indeed, going back to the December announcement of the expansion of West Bank settlement Har Homa, the Israeli government’s approach to Jerusalem has been at best contradictory, and at worst, deeply cynical. Read more