Ideology Trumps ‘reality’ in Jerusalem

By Omar Talab

If we wondered what the road towards a ‘no state solution’ would look like for the Palestinians, now is the time to pause and observe. Trump’s validation of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital adds legitimacy to Netanyahu’s efforts to bulldoze through ‘Greater Israel’ over the remaining Palestinian occupied territories. Rejecting international law, Trump’s symbolic gesture exposes how ideology is conquering reality in the Palestinian territories, as the two-state solution possibility dissolves into evanescence.

At Camp David in July 2000, Israeli prime minister Barak offered up East Jerusalem to Arafat as the capital to a Palestinian State. Fifteen years later, Netanyahu was re-elected as prime minister under the premise that a two-state solution is ‘simply irrelevant’. Netanyahu’s turbo-Zionist Likud Party has sworn to the systematic colonisation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, legitimising the enterprise under the Jewish people’s right to the ‘whole land of Israel’.

Trump’s symbolic gesture exposes how ideology is conquering reality in the Palestinian territories, as the two state solution possibility dissolves into evanescence

The world is now asked by Bibi and Trump to accept the materialisation of this ideology as ‘reality’. In Trump’s announcement to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he declared it ‘is nothing more than a recognition of reality’ echoing George W Bush’s words in 2004, that we must accept the ‘new realities’ on the ground, alluding to further settlements into the West Bank. Netanyahu’s adoption of the same language suggests that the realities on the ground are disconnected from his own policies and grew out of the natural order.

Now let us naively assume ‘reality’ to take up another definition — international law. We all know East Jerusalem has been illegally occupied since 1967; UN Resolution 252 in 1968 stated all attempts to legally and materially change the status of Jerusalem are ‘invalid’, and in 1999 the General Assembly concluded the same. East Jerusalem remains an occupied territory, the proposed capital of a future Palestinian state.

We are now asked to accept illegal colonisation as an unfortunate inevitability and to normalise its occurrence, relegating international law to a misguided and out of date bureaucracy

So in actual fact, the ‘realities’ have not changed, the settlements and annexations are just as illegal as they once were, only now they accelerate the demise of the two-state solution at an exponential rate, as intended. However, we are now asked to accept illegal colonisation as an unfortunate inevitability and to normalise its occurrence, relegating international law to a misguided and out of date bureaucracy. If we do this, not only does the two-state solution come to a slow, painful death, but so too does the integrity of the international order.

The ‘realities’ for Palestinians undertake another meaning; of the some 300,0000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, 75% live below the poverty line. Instead of being assimilated into the democratic entity of Israel, their life is defined by systematic alienation through residency policies that void their legal status, construction of barriers which fragment and isolate communities and being tormented by daily confrontation with settlers protected by armed soldiers. Let us not forget the 1.9 million Palestinians under collective punishment in Gaza, over 45% of which are under 14 years old, where clean water, electricity and medicine are scarce resources.

Jerusalem is the keystone to the two-state solution. If East Jerusalem becomes disassociated from the West Bank and the vision of Palestinian sovereignty, the structure collapses for good, and Palestinians will be cemented in a permanent temporariness, merely superfluous Arabs to an exclusive democracy.

Photograph: Dan via Flickr

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