Ehud Olmert's plan for Jerusalem

Caroline Glick

7/2/2006 12:00:00 AM - Caroline Glick
During his tour this week of European capitals, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that in addition to Judea and Samaria, he plans to transfer a number of neighborhoods in Jerusalem to Hamas. In his words, "Not all the Arab neighborhoods will be part of the city in the future."

Olmert claims that taking these Arab neighborhoods out of Jerusalem's municipal boundaries will strengthen the city. From a security perspective this makes no sense since transferring Tzur Baher, Jebl Mukaber and Isawiya to the Hamas-Fatah-Islamic Jihad-al-Qaida-Hizbullah-led Palestinian Authority will place all the remaining neighborhoods in the city within enemy rocket, mortar and even rifle range.

Olmert apparently thinks that partitioning the city will secure the Jewish majority of the city. Yet, taking these neighborhoods out of the city will actually endanger that majority.

Over the past few months, a team of American and Israeli researchers conducted a demographic study of Jerusalem and its environs. Last year the same researchers - Bennett Zimmerman, Roberta Seid, Michael Weiss and Yoram Ettinger - conducted the first independent study of the Palestinian population data published by the PA's Central Bureau of Statistics in 1997. Their study exposed that the PA had inflated the number of Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and Gaza by some 1.5 million or 50 percent. Olmert and his colleagues in Kadima and the Labor Party have justified their plan to surrender Judea and Samaria to Hamas on the basis of these inflated numbers which falsely project that by 2015 there will be more Arabs than Jews between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The team's research methods and their findings were reviewed by the leading American demographer Nicholas Eberstadt from the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC. At the Herzliya Conference in January, Eberstadt praised the team's research methods and stated that their conclusions were "not only plausible but quite persuasive."

Their study showed that today Jews comprise 59 percent of the overall population of the areas that include sovereign Israel, Judea and Samaria and Gaza and 67 percent of the population of Judea, Samaria and sovereign Israel. Far from becoming the minority by 2015, the group's projections show that in 2025, Jews will comprise between 56-71 percent of the overall population of Judea, Samaria and sovereign Israel. In other words, the team showed that there is no demographic threat to Israel's Jewish majority.

The team began examining the demographic situation in Jerusalem and its environs after Olmert first expressed his plan to partition the city as part of his unilateral retreat policy. The team noted at the outset that Olmert's claim - that by placing Arab neighborhoods outside the municipal boundaries he would be reducing the Arab population of the capital by tens of thousands - ignores the fact that Arabs can move. As legal residents of Jerusalem these Arabs are under no obligation to remain in the neighborhoods slotted for transfer to Hamas.

Indeed, since the government's intention to partition the city was made clear by the route of the security fence, thousands of Arabs with Jerusalem ID cards who had previously lived in Judea and in neighborhoods set to be placed outside the city's boundaries started converging on the city. Residents of Pisgat Ze'ev and Neveh Ya'acov relate that Arabs are moving into their neighborhoods in droves. This is also the case in the city's Arab neighborhoods not set for transfer to Hamas such as Beit Tzafafa, Wadi Joz and Abu Tor. Rather than reduce the number of Arabs in the city, Olmert's plan is just crowding the city's population into shrunken boundaries. At the same time, by giving up all the reserve open lands around the city, he is blocking all chance of municipal growth.

As Zimmerman and his team members note, in Jerusalem's current municipal boundaries, 487,000 Jews make up 68% of the population and 231,000 Arabs make up 32%. Fertility rates of the two populations are nearly identical, with a Jewish fertility rate of 3.8 and an Arab fertility rate of 4.1 per woman.

The team checked what would happen if, rather than partitioning the city, Israel were to expand the boundaries of the city. They found that if Israel were to extend the borders of the capital to include the Adumim bloc, the Etzion bloc, the Adam bloc, the Givon bloc, Mevasseret Zion and its satellite neighborhoods, the Tekoa area, Abu Dis and Bir Naballah and incorporate all these communities' Jewish and Arab residents into the city, Jerusalem's demographic balance would remain the same. The enlarged city would have 704,000 or 68% Jewish residents and 335,000 or 32% Arab residents.

The enlarged capital would have plenty of land reserves on which to build new housing for both its Jewish and Arab residents. Retaining Israeli control over the areas around Jerusalem's current boundaries would also protect Bethlehem's status as a Christian city while Olmert's plan, which places these areas under terrorist control, guarantees that Jesus's birth city will become a Muslim majority city with all the religious and political consequences that such a religious transformation would involve for the Christian world. The study shows that the number of Arabs that would be incorporated into the city if it were to expand its borders is smaller than the number of Arabs incorporated into the city with its unification in 1967. And it goes without saying that an enlarged Jerusalem would be safer than a partitioned city with its removed sections under terrorist control.

In light of the study's findings, and given the deterioration of Israel's national security situation in the wake of its retreat from Gaza last summer and the recent reports of al-Qaida cells operating in Jerusalem, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that in configuring his retreat and partition plan for the country's capital city, Olmert did not consider its devastating repercussions on Jerusalem itself.

SO IF Olmert's planned retreat harms Jerusalem, what purpose does it serve? The sole goal that Olmert's partition plan advances is that of attempting to appease racist, anti-Jewish radical Islamic forces that claim that Jews have no rights in Jerusalem. Indeed, at its core, Olmert's plan internalizes this jihadist view by completely ignoring the security, municipal and demographic concerns of the city's Jews and non-jihadist Arabs.

This Israeli internalization of the jihadist view of Jews in Jerusalem also pervades the government's treatment of Jewish land purchases in eastern Jerusalem. Last week Ha'aretz reported that a month ago the State's Attorney, Eran Shendar, asked Police Inspector Yohanan Danino to undertake a covert investigation of Ateret Cohanim - a non-profit organization that works to bypass the Palestinian Authority's policy of defining land sales to Jews as a capital offense for which dozens of Arabs have been murdered since 1994.

Shendar's instructions came after an Arab Jerusalemite named Muhammad Marageh, who in the past worked for Ateret Cohanim, offered to attempt to criminally implicate the organization in exchange for receiving state's witness protection and, perhaps, money from the state. The Ha'aretz report makes clear that Israel's chief prosecutor is so convinced that there is something wrong with willing Arab sellers selling land to willing Jewish buyers that apparently, without being presented with any evidence of wrongdoing, he ordered the police to begin a secret criminal investigation of the Jews.

This anti-Jewish view is similarly manifested in the police's indifference to the fates of Arab land sellers. On April 12, the eve of Passover, Jerusalem resident Muhammad Abu Al Hawa was tortured and murdered in Jericho for the "crime" of selling a building in Abu Tor to Jews. The week before his murder Israel's Channel 10 led prime time news broadcasts, on two consecutive nights, with hysterical reports about the land sale. The reports were precipitated by a court order for the police to evict illegal squatters from the building to enable the legal owners to take possession of their property - an eviction which Channel 10 filmed.

As I reported at the time, sources in Abu Tor stated that after the Channel 10 expose, it was only a question of time before Hawa was murdered. Those sources also said that far from protecting Hawa, the police were suspected of tipping off Channel 10's reporter on the scheduled eviction. This week, the spokesman for the police's Samaria and Judea District responsible for investigating Hawa's murder did not respond to repeated requests for information on the status of the investigation.

THE GOVERNMENT'S treatment of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate similarly exposes its internalization of the anti-Semitic view that Jews have no rights in eastern Jerusalem. Today there are two Patriarchs of the Greek Orthodox Church: the legal Patriarch Irineos and the illegal de facto Patriarch Theophilos. Last summer Ma'ariv reported that Irineos leased two hotels near the Old City's Jaffa Gate to Jews. The story caused an uproar in the Church, the PA and among Israeli Arabs. In its wake, Irineos was illegally ejected from his position and his life has been under constant threat.

The Church, together with Jordan's King Abdullah and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, selected Theophilos to replace him. Ahead of his appointment, Theophilos promised Abdullah that he would operate in accordance with Jordanian rather than Israeli law, meaning that he would uphold the Jordanian legal prohibition of conducting land deals with Jews. Attorneys and others involved in this issue claim that Theophilis also pledged to Abbas that he would cancel the lease agreement for the hotels at the Jaffa Gate.

In an interview with Al Quds newspaper on May 18, Theophilos said that he was unable today to fulfill his pledges because the Israeli government has yet to approve his appointment.

To force Israel's hand, Theophilos filed a petition with the Supreme Court demanding that the government approve his appointment. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the petition on July 19. The Jews involved in the Jaffa Gate lease agreement and in other land agreements with the Greek Orthodox Church, which owns vast landholdings in Jerusalem and throughout the country, are deeply concerned about the government's likely response to the petition. The government did nothing when Irineos was sacked although it is legally bound to protect him and his position. Indeed, Israel has allowed Theophilos to act as the de facto Patriarch.

The government's acceptance of the jihadist view that denies all Jewish rights to Jerusalem is nowhere more evident than on the Temple Mount, which since 1995 Israel has abandoned to the control of the PA's Mufti Ikrameh Sabri. Sabri preaches the "rights" of Arabs to eradicate the Jews whom he refers to as "pigs and monkeys." And with the backing of the Israeli government, he ensures that the police enforces his ban on Jewish and Christian worship on the Temple Mount.

Moreover, under the impotent eye of the government, for the past decade Sabri has overseen the commission of one of the most heinous archaeological crimes in human history. While denying the Judeo-Christian sanctity of the site, since the mid-1990s the Islamic Wakf on the Temple Mount has been systematically destroying Jewish and Christian relics hidden inside the mountain that date back to the time of Solomon's Temple, in an attempt to erase the historical record. Sabri and his colleagues further exploit their control of the Temple Mount to incite Muslims to attack Jews for imagined crimes relating to the so-called "Judaization" of Jerusalem.

In answer to reporters' queries, this week Olmert repeatedly stated that he would never give up the Temple Mount. But his statements are meaningless. You cannot give up what you already surrendered. No, Olmert is not giving up the Temple Mount. Olmert is giving up all of Jerusalem.