Mention the Palestine-Israel conflict and people will conjure up thoughts of sporadic violence, the commencement and breakdown of cease fire agreements and on again, off again peace talks. Even when parties periodically lay down their arms the conflict continues to rage. This is a conflict about more than violence. It is a conflict cloaked in bureaucracy and legalities. It is a conflict about (in)equality. Palestinians are treated in a way that violates all notions of fairness and seriously brings the integrity of ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ into question. The inequality in treatment that Palestinians experience on a daily basis can most obviously be seen in Israel’s administration of Jerusalem. Israel has adopted policies that severely restrict the movement of Palestinians into and out of Jerusalem, threatens their continued residence in the city and significantly affects their overall quality of life. Demographic Balance Between 1948 and 1967 Jerusalem was divided into West Jerusalem (Israeli controlled) and East Jerusalem (Jordanian controlled). The Six Day War in 1967 concluded with Israel’s occupation of the formerly separate West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza. With control over these territories Israel quickly amended it legislation so as to assert its control and sovereignty over East Jerusalem, subsuming it into the (Israeli) Municipality of Jerusalem. With the annexation of East Jerusalem, Israel implemented a plan to bring about the demographic transformation of the city (the annexation of East Jerusalem now included an increased Palestinian population). Israeli settlements were quickly established as land was confiscated from Palestinians under the legal guise of being for ‘public purposes’.1 The aim was to ‘Judaise’ the city and minimise the area of the West Bank that would have to be returned to any future Palestinian state.2 Whilst fixated on the desire to ‘Judaise’ East Jerusalem, the city’s Palestinian population continued to grow.. Alarmed by this ‘demographic threat’,3 the Israeli Government convened the Interministerial Committee to Examine the Rate of Development for Jerusalem (otherwise known as the ‘Gafni Committee’) in 1973. The Government adopted the Gafni Committee’s recommendation that called for the demographic ‘balance’ between the Jewish and Palestinian populations to be maintained at their 1972 levels. That is, the Jewish population of the city was not to fall below 73.5% and the Palestinian population was not to rise above 26.5%.
Jerusalem’s invisible cloak
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