Jerusalem Day, which was celebrated on Sunday for the 45th time by great crowds and with spirited declarations of public figures, is supposed to mark the unification of the two halves of the capital after the Six-Day War. Each year the gulf between the festive joy of the Jews and the alienation felt by their Arab neighbors widens. The holiday has turned into a day on which the right provokes the city's Palestinian residents, and nationalist Knesset members demonstrate their domination.
The wall that divides statements such as "We come with a united government to a united Jerusalem," which was issued on Sunday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, from the facts on the ground, is growing ever higher.
A new report by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel - highlights of which were published Sunday in Haaretz - shows that Jerusalem is less deserving than ever of being called a united city. The insupportable policy of "Judaizing Jerusalem" has not succeeded in keeping Palestinians out of the city (where they comprise 38 percent of the population ); it exacerbates their already difficult living conditions and heightens their hostility to Israeli rule. State agencies advance new construction projects in Jewish neighborhoods throughout the city, but are miserly with building permits for Jerusalem's 360,000 Palestinian residents. The lack of job opportunities and the economic isolation from the West Bank have increased the unemployment rate, leading to a situation in which 84 percent of the Palestinian children in East Jerusalem are below the poverty line. As a result of the delays in building new classrooms, around 40 percent of Palestinian children in Jerusalem fail to complete high school.
Every year Jerusalem Day reminds us that no country in the world has recognized Israel's decision to annex the neighborhoods that had been under Jordanian control, and to add to them the surrounding West Bank villages.
Unilateral measures that ignore the rights and the needs of the Palestinians undermine the chances for the two-state solution. Without a peace agreement, Jerusalem will continue to be a capital city that no political entity except for Israel recognizes as such. Victory parades that ignore international law and the Palestinians' ties to Jerusalem are not a substitute for responsible policy.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now