Wednesday, April 6, 2011
For many, criticizing Israel for the continuous construction of new building projects in the post 1967 captured territories has become like drinking a cup or two of coffee - part of the daily routine. Obviously, Israel has become its own worst enemy in terms of garnering this criticism as it has arrogantly pursued a jaded policy of refusing to stop settlement construction within areas that will eventually become part of a future Palestinian state - assuming that the current stagnation in negotiations does not lead to a de facto Palestinian entity come September as deemed by the UN or even a binational state, something whose likelihood is gaining more ground with each passing day (see Qaddafi's Israstine). Clearly, there are certain areas beyond the Green Line, in particular within the Eastern part of Jerusalem - that due to their majority Arab population - will surly be transferred to the Palestinians (i.e Abu Dis and Sheikh Jarrah) while other predominantly Jewish areas, despite being part of the post 1967 territory, will remain as part of the Israel of the future.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of emphasis by the media in reporting the many territorial proposals jointly drawn-up by both sides. Instead, everything is blindly referred to as all land captured in 1967 after the Six Day War. However, the majority of shelved initiatives, accords and written agreements (see Clinton Peace Plan, Geneva Initiative, Abu Mazen-Yossi Beilin Agreement) have addressed the legitimacy of Israel in holding onto the bulk of Jewish neighborhoods in the Eastern part of Jerusalem, despite the fact that they are recognized as occupied land both by the Palestinians and the International community.
At this point, the Palestinian leadership realizes that evacuating certain Jewish neighborhoods to the North, South and East of the Green Line is not feasible, assuming that the Arab areas of East Jerusalem - those that already suffer from an inadequate balance of services supplied by the Jerusalem municipality - will be integrated into any future Palestinian state. So as much as we may be quick to condemn the approval of new Jewish housing units in Sheikh Jarrah, we must be equally critical of those who unequivocally bash Israel for new construction within particular areas that will remain within the current status quo as publicly agreed to and recognized by some of the Palestinian Authority's most respected veteran officials.
So before you criticize and before the media decides to roll with misleading and controversial headlines regarding Israel's approval for new construction in Gilo - as made evident today - please make sure you understand the previously agreed bilateral documents which have already addressed and settled 90% of the issues between the two sides. As for the other 10% that hasn't been settled...well, that is for the young diplomats to decide.