Israel does not remain silent in the face of terror attacks: In a consultation of ministers in the Prime Minister's Office, it was decided to respond to the attack in Tel Aviv by "stripping the residency" of three Hamas members of the Palestinian parliament who reside in East Jerusalem. In simple language, this is called expulsion. The attorney general, Menachem Mazuz, was quick to certify this abomination as "kosher." In this case, he did not need time to reach a decision, despite the fact that it constitutes collective punishment - only because "Hamas leaders failed to denounce the attack" and "some even justified it."
The fact that this not only entails the expulsion of innocent people, but also a serious violation of freedom of speech did not arouse any special interest. Several Arab MKs who met with the three candidates for expulsion were widely condemned, instead of receiving support from Jewish MKs, advocates of human rights. Because this is the essence of freedom of speech. It is measured at those very times when distasteful words are sounded, and it also applies to elected Palestinian officials. The poor policemen in Jerusalem are at their wits' end: One day they are instructed to prevent Palestinian elected officials who live in the city from traveling to the territories, and the next day they are told to expel them from the city to the territories. This is how Israel's consistent policy looks.
But the ridiculous Israeli response of "stripping residency," which was concocted by the "moderate" and "enlightened" foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, constitutes an insult to the intelligence of even those Israelis who wish to see their government "do something" against terrorism. A much more profound question arises: What exactly do we want in Jerusalem? Do we want to annex its occupied sections and pay the heavy political and demographic price of this step, or do we plan to give to the Palestinians what belongs to the Palestinians and to the Jews what belongs to the Jews?
Jerusalem, including its occupied sections, will either be an inseparable part of the State of Israel, and all of its residents (including those who voted for Hamas in the Palestinian Authority's democratic elections) will enjoy all of the rights accorded to the general public, or Israel will separate from the occupied part of the city and transfer it to the Palestinians. You do not want Hamas in Jerusalem? So, please separate. Even in Jerusalem, you cannot have your cake and eat it too.
This is even truer because it has already been a rearguard battle for some time. The future of Jerusalem has been decided and any reasonable person can see that the city will indeed be divided, despite the annexation efforts of Israel, which reached a peak during Ehud Olmert's days as mayor. Every extreme nationalistic organization, every delusional NGO and every eccentric yeshiva that aspired to invade more and more Arab homes in the capital received Olmert's support, and yet the city remained clearly binational.
Even 1,000 officers from the Jerusalem Police on duty in the soccer field of Zur Baher to prevent Hamas from staging rallies will not convince residents who support and voted for the organization to stop supporting it. Just as the repeated summoning of the Jerusalem representative in parliament, Mahmoud Abu Tir, to the police station (under suspicion of violating an order prohibiting the convening of the rally in Zur Baher) will only enhance the influence of the red-bearded man, who until recently was unknown to most Palestinians. Just as the bombastic closing of Orient House in its day did not reduce the support of most residents for Fatah.
And what did we get after we closed Orient House? The Hamas soccer field. We can only look back longingly to Orient House now - not only because of its stylish architecture, but mainly due to the fact that inside its walls a real discussion was conducted about negotiating with Israel and achieving peace. At the soccer field in Zur Baher, other voices - much more extreme - would have been sounded had the rally been held. And perhaps these extreme voices would not have arisen had Orient House not been closed.
A quarter of a million Palestinians live in Jerusalem, comprising about a third of the city's residents. The underlying Israeli aspiration to hold onto the occupied territory without its residents is unrealistic. The aspiration to perpetuate an apartheid regime in the city is also out of the question. Those who should have been first to call for dividing the city are the ones who yearn for "a Jewish majority" and sow fear of "the demographic danger."
In a flash, Israel could have "rid itself" of a quarter of a million Palestinians, whose percentage of the city's population will only increase. But Israel chooses to continue the annexation of East Jerusalem, and this comes with a price. It is impossible to go "with" and to feel "without." United Jerusalem is a Jerusalem with Abu Tir as an authentic representative of the residents, and with a Hamas rally at one of its soccer fields. Ehud Olmert must finally give a truthful answer: Abu Tir or Abu Tur.
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