Palestinians feel terrorised in Jerusalem
As Israel and its main ally the US are denouncing the “terrorist” acts against Israelis, very little is being said about what Palestinians describe as summary executions of individuals who do not pose a life-threatening danger.
It is unclear why Israel has yet to begin an investigation into the large number of killings of individual Palestinians, who are killed point-blank range and under questionable circumstances.
Several of these cases are recorded on video and clearly show indifference towards the injured and a mob mentality that justifies summary executions.
While the US, the UN and the rest of the Quartet on Palestine acceded to the Israeli demand not to come to Jerusalem and the occupied territories, the Israeli political leadership continues to accuse Palestinian leaders while the Israeli army contradicts the political branch and insists that the Ramallah-based leadership is not involved in encouraging the current attacks.
Little or no attempt is being made to look at the root causes of the current escalation, namely the attempts to change the status quo of Al Aqsa Mosque, the absence of local Palestinian leadership in East Jerusalem as a result of a concerted Israeli campaign and the absence of a political horizon for all Palestinians.
The atmosphere created by the iron fist policy was further exacerbated by calls to Israelis to move around armed, with the mayor of West Jerusalem walking around brandishing a gun as a sign of power and intimidation.
Calls on the government to ease gun licensing laws further creates fear that the Israeli security is losing control and is moving towards a militia state rather than a country where the rule of law is observed.
The summary killings and the militarisation of the public created unprecedented fear among Jerusalem’s Palestinian population.
Many Palestinians are choosing not to leave their homes and the city’s streets are looking like ghost towns as people fear for their lives that could easily be taken by trigger-happy Israeli soldiers and armed citizens.
Lost in this escalating violence is the Israeli claim that united Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel.
Also long forgotten are the repeated Israeli claims that Palestinians in Jerusalem prefer staying with Israel, rather than being free in an independent Palestinian state.
For years the calls on Israel to stop its acts to isolate East Jerusalem have gone on deaf ears.
Israel has been so successful in its efforts to decimate any kind of independent Palestinian leadership in the city that it is now left without the possibility of dealing with a leadership it can negotiate with and encourage to have a positive role in cooling the situation.
Israeli attempts to blame Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and to claim that he and Hamas are responsible for inciting Palestinians to violence find very few believers.
After all, Israel has total and complete control over East Jerusalem, and has built a wall separating the Palestinian part of the city from its natural connection with the rest of the occupied territories.
Israel’s unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem has not been recognised by any country, and the International Court of Justice has ruled in 2004 that East Jerusalem is part of the occupied territories and that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the city.
Israel insists that it owns the city and, therefore, is responsible for what happens to it.
Israel has responsibility towards the entire population of the city, both Israeli and Palestinian, and cannot shirk this responsibility by blaming Abbas and Hamas for what is happening.
Using security actions, collective punishments and threatening to withdraw the residency rights of East Jerusalem’s Palestinian population will not work.
The city’s 350,000 residents have been made political orphans and the only way to ease the tensions in the city must be political, and not through security means and collective punishment.
History shows that exaggerated use of power and collective punishment do not solve a deep-seated political conflict.
Such acts might succeed for a short period, but the anger and hatred only deepen, and the only way out is through recognition of the fact that East Jerusalem is part of the Palestinian state.
Attempts to separate Palestinians from their leadership and their natural community, as well as denying them the ability to develop their own local leadership without the threat of imprisonment and deportation, will only backfire; it is only a matter of time before they do.