So, president Donald Trump revealed to the world the truth we (the Jerusalemite inhabitants) knew since years. The old fashioned diplomatic ipochrisy left room to the rude untold truth.
The Two-State-solution as envisioned by the Oslo process’ architects is not anymore a comatose patient: it is already dead and buried under the Israeli Colonies’ enterprise Avalanche. In this sense, Jerusalem embodies both a symbol and a laboratory for different political solutions. Will Jerusalem become the capital of the two States? Of course not. Will Jerusalem be finally normalised under the Israeli military and civil rule? Obviously not.
The Time that Remains needs courage and craziness. They are the necessary tools for envisioning and imagining new visionary solutions based on reciprocal recognition. Otherwise, the future will be even worse than the ordinary cruel present.
If you want to know what is going on in Jerusalem, read the notes I wrote after my recent journey to the Holy (?) Land.
It depends on the gaze upon the city. It is easy, nowadays, to feel the absolute and widespread control of Jerusalem by the Israeli authorities. More than ever before, the city is encircled, closed, strangulated. The Wall runs deep inside the West Bank hills around Jerusalem, from the outskirts of Ramallah, along the 443 route, and goes along the villages south of Bethlehem. A large road connects the Gush Etzion block running through the Jerusalemite Palestinian suburb of Beit Safafa, and the highway to Jericho is now a four-lane road along an endless line of small and medium size colonies that punctuate the desert. The new city gates block completely the access to the West-banker Palestinians, while paving the way to the Israeli commuters who live in the settlements all around Jerusalem. Dozens of thousand of Israeli drive back and forth from strongly populated conurbations as Maaleh Adumim and Har Homa.
Traffic. Traffic everywhere. Always. All the day long. It has been never as it is nowadays. Jerusalem is dying from traffic, despite the light rail that connects the city’s northern suburbs to the Israeli settlements near Ramallah. It is as if the Palestinians go continuously round in circles inside a rat maze, doing in the city what they used to do in a wider territory that covered all the cities around. Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho. Not anymore. Additionally, the Israeli commuters come to the city as workers, employees, consumers. Jerusalem is a magnet that is dying for overcrowding.
Is it the full accomplishment of the Israeli goal on Jerusalem as their eternal capital? Is Israel full in control of Jerusalem? Is Jerusalem once and for all completely Israeli? The first spontaneous answer should be affirmative. Jerusalem is fully under administrative and military control. Palestinian Jerusalemites feel deeply the uncertainty, the frailty of their condition: they are not citizen and their belonging to the city is conditional on the Israeli changing rules and norms on residency. Even if the UNSC Resolution 2334 adopted on Decmber, 23, 2016, “underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem” and reaffirms “the obligation of Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities”, the ancient Arab character of the city is daily decaying, choked by the upsurge of construction sites, by demolition orders in the Palestinian suburbs, by the boosting presence of settlers in sensitive areas in and around the Old City. More than ever. More evidently than ever since 1967.
Jerusalem is not normalized, nevertheless. Nor peaceful. Even crueler. The stabbing attacks’ wave that started on October 2015 changed slightly the daily-life of both Palestinian and Israeli youth, more and more mistrustful regarding each other. Damascus Gate paid the highest price, as the stage where some of the deadliest confrontations took place. On one side, there were effective or alleged stabbing attacks by Palestinians. On the other, there were executions by means of guns and rifles on the spot by Israeli soldiers. Damascus Gate lost its liveliness, heavily guarded by the Israeli security apparatus. But the rest of Jerusalem has been however affected by the increase of violent confrontation, rising the separation in the streets and suburbs, during the daylight and in the evenings. Stabbing attacks at the bus stops or by the means of trucks and cars did not cease throughout the years.
Despite all this, despite the pain and the inequity, the violence and the occupation, the attempted normalization and the resilience, Jerusalemites continue to live in their city. Separated and, in the same time, together in the same cage surrounded by a high fence. It not that surprising if more than 4,000 Palestinian East Jerusalemite applied for the Israeli citizenship between 2014 and September 2016. Although almost entirely halted or pending, a so high number of citizenship requests by Palestinians signal the undelayable need for civil rights and a change in demanding them.
my book on Jerusalem (Jerusalem without God) will be out very soon, published by the American University in Cairo Press. Timing. Late Spring, when we will speak a lot about the Six Days War, 50 years after.