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Divided Jerusalem?

Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus in the West Bank, a Jewish holy site where some believe the biblical Joseph is buried, was in the news early in the Second Intifada when a Palestinian mob ransacked it after an Israeli troop withdrawal. These days Joseph’s Tomb is doing even worse, having been turned by the Nablus Palestinians into a garbage dump.
Such treatment should not surprise anyone who knows the fate of the Old City of Jerusalem while it was under Jordanian rule from 1948 to 1967: Israelis were denied access to the Western Wall and the Mount of Olives, gravestones on the Mount of Olives were used to make latrines in Jordanian army camps, and 58 Jerusalem synagogues were ruined or destroyed.
Like the present nominal Fatah leadership of the West Bank, the Jordanian regime in those years was not considered Islamist or fundamentalist: it simply followed a basic Muslim-supremacist agenda that often transcends facile Western distinctions between religious and “secular” Muslims.
Yet Jerusalem, united under Israeli rule since 1967 with free access for Muslims, Christians, and Jews to all their holy sites (except the Waqf-dominated Temple Mount itself, where access for Christians and Jews is limited), is now again on the chopping block as part of the latest peace push leading up to the Annapolis conference in November.
The Palestinians, as always, say Palestinian rule over East Jerusalem is a bedrock demand and that it has to include the Temple Mount—unarguably the holiest site in Judaism while enjoying a questionable status as the “third holiest site” in Islam. Do not look to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, or her boss President George W. Bush to say in reply:
“Muslims have full control over Mecca, Medina, and many other Islamic shrines, sites, and cities from Morocco to Indonesia. We hardly see it as unacceptable that Muslims should continue to live and worship freely in East Jerusalem under benign, democratic, pluralist Israeli rule.”
Instead Olmert and his deputy prime minister Haim Ramon are reportedly conferring with PA president Mahmoud Abbas on plans to cede the heart of Jerusalem to Islamic rule—just as then prime minister Ehud Barak offered then PA president Yasser Arafat at Camp David in 2000 as part of a “peace” package that Arafat refused by igniting the murderous Second Intifada instead.
The current Israeli-U.S., Western persistence in pursuing the same blind path amazes on many counts:
* It ignores the sequence of events beginning with Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in August 2005. Opponents argued that the retreat would strengthen Islamism among the Palestinians, enable massive weapons transfers into Gaza, and subject southern Israel to intensified rocket barrages. It all came to pass: in January 2006 the Palestinians elected Hamas to leadership; weapons and explosives keep streaming into Gaza in unprecedented quantities; just last Sunday, in a new escalation, a Soviet-made Grad-type Katyusha rocket hit the Israeli town of Netivot 11 kilometers from Gaza.
The conventional wisdom was that Olmert, who in the early aftermath of the disengagement campaigned on his “convergence” plan for further territorial withdrawals, had dropped “convergence” under the impact both of the post-disengagement Gaza debacle and the war with Hezbollah in summer 2006, which also resulted from an Israeli retreat under fire.
Now, though, Olmert, under a big push from Bush and Rice, has again put everything up for grabs—Jerusalem, the entire or nearly-entire West Bank. As if none of the above had happened, as if the Palestinians since August 2005 had been peacefully developing Gaza and showing their appreciation to Israel.
* Even now, the allegedly moderate Abbas is a figurehead who does not even rule the West Bank. As DEBKAfile reports, his
“West Bank rule is confined to parts of Ramallah; not just in Gaza which fell to Hamas in June, but on the West Bank too, neither he nor [Prime Minister Salam] Fayyad ever sets foot in the main towns. They are controlled by a coalition of Fatah-al Aqsa Brigades, Hamas, Jihad Islami and the radical 'Fronts,’ which are united by their dedication to his overthrow and war on Israel.”
Indeed, the Israeli press offers almost daily accounts of gun battles between Israeli forces and Fatah and other terrorists on the West Bank. In the latest incident, early on Wednesday morning IDF forces killed a Fatah al-Aqsa terrorist and wounded another in Nablus. The injured gunman, Sudian Kandeel, was one of 200 Fatah operatives recently granted amnesty by Israel—per Abbas's request—as part of the “peace” machinations.
* The Palestinian Authority—still nominally under Abbas’s rule, still pre-Annapolis, pre-“peace” solemnities—remains a source of hate propaganda including anti-American hate propaganda. Palestinian Media Watch has done the critically important work of informing the world that this year, to mark 9/11, the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida published cartoons celebrating the attack—and just this Tuesday the same PA newspaper published and illustrated a prayer calling for the killing of Americans.
America, Israel, and the world: should you pay attention to this, or ignore it?
Since it is inconceivable that Bush, Rice, and the State Department have no knowledge of the above facts—the deteriorations in Gaza, the West Bank, and southern Lebanon after Israeli withdrawals; Abbas’s lack of power in any case; virulent PA jihadism and hate propaganda—American motives in pushing this “peace” are suspect and may boil down to bald appeasement of Saudi and other Arab power without regard for Israel’s fate.
Olmert’s “motives” probably combine submission to U.S. dictates and remaining temptations of the Israeli “peace” ideology that took hold in the early 1990s with such dire consequences. Apart from the Left-dovish Ramon, other cabinet ministers from Olmert’s own centrist Kadima Party like Avi Dichter, Shaul Mofaz, and Ehud Barak himself
—each of whom has held top-tier security positions—have registered deep reservations about the impending conference.
As for those whose motives toward Israel are based on a sincere desire that it survive and flourish, the time has come to express opposition to this latest “process” of inexcusable appeasement and blindness to reality.
P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Tel Aviv. He blogs at He can be reached at [email protected].

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