(July 12, 2006)
The area known as “Greater” Jerusalem usually refers to an approximately 100 square mile space surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem. This area includes both West and East Jerusalem, including the adjacent neighborhoods outside of the municipal boundaries of the city. Almost all of the residents of West Jerusalem are Israeli Jews; East Jerusalem is traditionally a place where the majority of residents are Palestinian, but currently the numbers of the Jewish and Palestinian populations within East Jerusalem are numerically similar. Since 1967, many Israelis have created large Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem in hopes that the city would one day not be divided.
Regarding the route of Israel’s security fence in the Jerusalem area, there have been a few competing strategies: to reinforce the municipal boundaries of the city, to alter the demographics in Israel’s favor, and to permanently draw the lines for “Greater” Jerusalem. In reinforcing the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, instead of merely creating a border between Jerusalem and the West Bank, it has also separated Palestinians from other Palestinians. Additionally, certain sections of the fence represent some political efforts to increase the Jewish population in areas of the city. This strategy has had some serious consequences for some Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem. Palestinians in East Jerusalem have a much better standard of living than Palestinians living in the West Bank, as they have a higher annual income and better health services and employment opportunities. Due to the route of the fence, some East Jerusalem Palestinian residents have ended up on the West Bank side of the fence, impacting their abilities to live and work in Jerusalem. However, while the security fence does create some inconvenience to Palestinians, it also saves lives. The deaths of Israelis caused by terror are permanent and irreversible whereas the hardships faced by the Palestinians are temporary and reversible.
It should be noted that in 2000 at Camp David, Ehud Barak offered dramatic concessions of Jerusalem and the West Bank to the Palestinians, including allowing Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem to become the capital of a future Palestinian state. This proposed offer was unique because an Israeli prime minister agreed to divide Jerusalem for the first time in history, but Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat rejected the deal, opting instead to launch a new wave of terror against Israel.
Source: Americans for Peace Now