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Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated recently that the status of Jerusalem will not be negotiated with the Palestinians at this time. Right wing Israelis are against conceding any part of the Old City or any suburb of Jerusalem municipality to the Palestinians. The ultra-orthodox right wing party in Olmert's government threatens to leave the governing coalition if the question of Jerusalem comes up for discussion with the Palestinians and that is why Olmert will not discuss it now. This has been the same rationale that successive Israeli governments have always cited whenever they were pressed to stop settlement expansion. And if Israel says no negotiations on the future of Jerusalem, the Palestinians cannot do anything about it.
...Israel since Oslo has expanded the boundaries of the City, confiscated more Arab lands and constructed new settlements...Some of these are Har Homa (Jabal Ghaneim), Gilo, Piscat Ze'ev, Atarot, Ramot settlement. Jewish settlers evicted Palestinian residents from their quarters in the Old City and took over St. John's Hospice and other church and Islamic endowment (wakf) properties. The Israeli government dug Hasmonean Tunnel under al-Aqsa Mosque compound endangering the structure of the Islamic shrine.
...The Old City constitutes only a small geographic area of the expanded municipality of East Jerusalem, but its holiness distinguishes it from the rest of Jerusalem...The Palestinians want Jerusalem to be their capital, and since Israel occupied East Jerusalem 40 years ago, all Israeli governments maintained that Jerusalem must be "the eternal indivisible" capital of Israel...In the face of the Israeli colonization and absorption since then, the City has been transformed from a Palestinian city to Palestinian enclaves within a Jewish city...
Michael Dumper, a specialist on the Palestinian issue identified three major categories of settler groups operating in Jerusalem, that have been supported by the government financially and logistically. The first category is "active in attempts to settle Jews in Muslim quarters". The second category includes groups that locate, acquire and renovate Palestinians' real estate. The third category known as "the Temple Mount group, is active in supporting the messianic vision of reconstructing the Jewish temple on al-Aqsa site". The groups receive money from the ministry of housing, expressly given to buy properties in the Palestinian Muslim and Christian quarters and the surrounding parts of East Jerusalem. They also receive large funds from American millionaires such as Irving Moscowitz...Settler movements such as Gush Emunim and Tehiya [which no longer exist, at least for over a decade], that have been given free hand to encircle Hebron, Nablus and Jerusalem with settlements, have been active in asserting Israel’s control over the Old City by building a strong Jewish presence in the Palestinian quarters...They carried out overt and covert operations that made serious inroads which impacted the lives of the Palestinians living in the Muslim and Christian quarters including some dramatic events such as the massacre in Haram ash-Sharif in 1990 and the opening of the Hasmonean Tunnel in 1996.
...[Olmert] appointed the leader from the Ateret militant settler group, Shmuel Evyatar, as his advisor on issues related to the Christian communities in Jerusalem. The appointment was perceived as part of a campaign to acquire Church properties because Evayatar had been active in taking over such Church owned properties...
...The present fundamentalist Jewish mayor of Jerusalem Uri Lupliansky declared recently that he was going to Judaize East Jerusalem even more by confiscating land and expanding the Jewish only settlements. Lupliansky was referring to the expanded Jerusalem municipality that includes 5% of the West Bank as well as the Old City. According to Haaretz, Lupliansky vowed that he would turn Jerusalem into an "illegal outpost". Israel has succeeded in creating the concept of legal and illegal settlements just to circumvent the international law that considers all settlements illegal. Israel uses what it calls the illegal outposts for bargaining purposes. Even President Bush bought into this scheme and called for dismantling the so called "illegal settlements". ..
For the Palestinians, Jerusalem especially the Old City is the center of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The fate of the peace negotiations for them and the destiny of Jerusalem is the same. While Israel calls for postponing the subject of East Jerusalem, actions to Judaize it never stopped. The Israeli operatives have been working hard to colonize the City as well as the rest of the occupied lands. If Israel is not ready to discuss Jerusalem after forty years of occupation, it will never be ready in the future. More time before discussing Jerusalem is more time to transform the City’s character and with that, the hope for withdrawal to the 1967 borders becomes increasingly unlikely.