The Israeli government’s desire to exclude East Jerusalem from an agreement on the renewal of a freeze on colonization is a major obstacle today to the re-opening of direct negotiations between the two parties. Such a demand amounts to accepting, de facto, Israel’s annexation of the city, which is of course unacceptable to the Palestinian authority and to the international community as well.
By citing the Oslo agreement stipulating that the question of Jerusalem would be dealt with at a later date, some people in the French Jewish community assert that the city is therefore « implicitly » under Israeli sovereignty, and that in this case the settlement building is perfectly legal. It seems appropriate to remind them that the notion of implicit sovereignty has no legal value. According to international law, East Jerusalem has the same status as the West Bank. Both are occupied territories. Saying that they are « disputed » territories won’t change anything: whatever term you use, neither the West Bank nor East Jerusalem are legally part of the State of Israel. The Israeli government’s demand that East Jerusalem be excluded from this agreement is unacceptable, all the more so given that events unfolding there these days are as dangerous as they are intolerable. More and more often, settlers build without a permit, in the heart of Arab neighborhoods, and settle there in spite of reiterated court orders declaring these buildings illegal. The same settlers, united and organized, proceed to purchase Palestinian properties on a questionable legal basis, then evict the tenants living there. A few days ago, a family of A-Tur was thus thrown out in the street. One of their tactics is to request in court the recognition of title deeds issued before 1948, so as to evict Palestinians occupants and thus benefit the settlers. This is what is being done in Sheikh Jarrah, for example. All these actions, perfectly planned and coordinated, have only one goal: to isolate the Arab neighborhoods of the old city from their immediate suburbs. The aim is clear: the settlers intend, with the blessing of the government, to prevent at all costs the dividing of Jerusalem, and in so doing, to make any global and permanent solution of the conflict impossible to achieve. We are opposed to this rampant colonization and we appeal to the Israeli government to order the renewal of a settlement freeze that includes East Jerusalem. We also appeal to the Palestinian Authority to accept the re-opening of direct negotiations. We expect the American administration to pursue relentlessly its involvement in the peace process and to remain as determined as ever until the conclusion of a global agreement.