Today and tomorrow
Violence continues in Jerusalem. Today's terror attack in Jerusalem steps up the hatred, the incitement and the sense of hopelessness. Israeli and Palestinian leaders - political and religious - must not add fuel to the flames. They must call for calm and an end to the violence. Peace groups in Israel and Palestine - such as the Palestinian Israeli Peace NGO Forum, of which I am a member of the steering committee, and other groups such as the Council of Religious Leaders of the Holy land must call for a gathering of Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem to demonstrate civil society support for peace in Jerusalem - two capitals in Jerusalem for two states.
The Palestinian Authority has no responsibility in Jerusalem. PA police forces cannot work in Jerusalem - Israel does not allow them to enter the city. The only real services that Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem receive are the border police when arresting suspects, closing neighborhoods, house demolitions and taxation. 80% of East Jerusalem Palestinians live under the poverty line. Whole neighborhoods of East Jerusalem are on the other side of the separation wall. East Jerusalem Palestinians lives under the constant threat of having their residency statues removed from them. They hold Israeli ID cards but their status is under the law of "entering Israel" - when in fact it is Israel that entered to them. The political and economic problems of East Jerusalem have been building over the past decades and getting worse not better. There is deep discrimination against Palestinian East Jerusalem by Israeli institutions and the government. The right-wing Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, incites against Palestinians, and continues to build for settlers not only in settler neighborhoods but also deep inside of Palestinian neighborhoods. Palestinian East Jerusalem is cut off from Palestine and they are not part of Israel.
Jerusalem is a divided city. And to this, add the flames of provocations on the Haram a-sharif/Temple Mount. Despite the fact that the Temple Mount is the holiest place for Jews in the world, because of political and religious realities and sensitivities, Jews who want to pray there simply have to wait for the Messiah.
Yoram Cohen, the Shin Bet head stated to MKs that Abu Mazen is not inciting to violence, in fact, he said, Abu Mazen and the PA are opposed to violence and are fighting against it. Despite that right wing Israeli politicians continue to incite against Abu Mazen and the PA including Prime Minister Netanyahu. Netanyahu's poodle, Ofir Akunis said today that there can be no political horizon and that we need a security horizon. Yeah, right. With Netanyahu there is no political horizon and no hope. As long as he is in power there will be no security either. In previous elections Netanayhu screamed that Shimon Peres will divide Jerusalem - he said there is no security in Jerusalem and Peres is responsible. Well - Netanyahu - today you are the boss - already for a very long time - there is no hope in Jerusalem, there is no security in Jerusalem and there is no peace in Jerusalem.
There will be no hope, security or peace in Jerusalem until Jerusalem is the capitals for two countries - Israel and Palestine. One open city living in peace and recognized by the world as the capitals of Israel and Palestine.
Israel is facing some very dangerous times. Crucial decisions must be made that will shape the present and the future of the nation and the Jewish people for a long time ahead. Israel is often at a crossroads, but now it seems that both the opportunities and the risks are greater and more profound than usual. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to many of the people closest to him, is a very bad decision maker. He hesitates, mostly considering local small politics, taking the easy path above larger more consequential and more difficult choices. It often seems that his own political survival and that of his coalition is his foremost concern.
Gershon Baskin is the co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit. His new book, Freeing Gilad: the Secret Back Channel, has been published by Kinneret Zmora Bitan in Hebrew.
Gershon Baskin ist Autor des Aachener Friedensmagazins www.aixpaix.de. Seine Beiträge finden Sie hier