Newsletter : 5fax0515.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
May 15, 1995, V3, #89
All the News the Big Guys Missed
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Human Rights Group Accuses Israel
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
A leading Israeli human rights group has accused Israel of
systematically blocking Palestinian development in east Jerusalem,
since it captured the area from Jordan in 1967. The charge comes
in the wake of a controversy about the latest Israeli plans to
confiscate property in east Jerusalem for new housing, almost
exclusively for Jews. But, Jerusalem correspondent Al Pessin
reports Palestinians still hope to regain at least part of the city
as their capital through negotiations scheduled to begin next year.
The human rights group B'Tselem says only 12-percent of the housing
built in Jerusalem since 1967 has been for Palestinians, although
they are 28-percent of the population.
The group says the result has been an explosion in the Jewish
population in east Jerusalem to nearly equal the Arab population
of 160,000, causing severe overcrowding and generally poor
conditions in Palestinian neighborhoods. The human rights report
also says Israeli authorities are planning to surround and isolate
Palestinian areas by building Jewish neighborhoods and designating
adjacent land as urban green zones and prohibiting construction in
Those are among the findings in a report resulting from several
months of investigation, including field work and reviews of
official Israeli documents. The study's author is Eitan Felner.
"Since the annexation of east Jerusalem in 1967, all Israeli
governments have adopted a policy of systematic and deliberate
discrimination against the city's Palestinian population in all
matters relating to expropriation of land, planning, development,
Felner says the situation is a result of a basic Israeli policy
followed by both labor and conservative governments for the past
28-years. "The planning authorities in Jerusalem have set their
sights on one central goal, and that is creating a demographic and
geographic reality that will preempt any future attempt to question
Israeli sovereignty over east Jerusalem."
Israeli officials paint a different picture. Foreign Minister
Shimon Peres acknowledges Israel set out in 1967 to make all of
Jerusalem an Israeli city. But, he says that was done with the
intention of also treating the city's Palestinian residents
"We have to take care of the needs of the Arab people as we do of
the needs of the Jewish people. If we are in charge of the city,
as we are, we must be in charge in an equal and fair way with all
citizens. Neither are we willing to introduce discrimination, nor
will anybody else support it."
Peres says recent Israeli land confiscations in east Jerusalem have
But, Felner says if what Peres says were true, the statistics cited
in his report would not exist.
"In establishing the Jewish neighborhoods in the annexed areas, the
Israeli governments promoted and continue to promote extensive
building and enormous investments there. But at the same time
their acts and omissions to choke development and building for the
Palestinian, which is perceived as a demographic threat to Israeli
control of the city, is also part of this policy."
Felner's report calls for the Israeli government to reverse its
policy by stopping the construction of Jewish neighborhoods in east
Jerusalem and by allowing Palestinians to build more. But Israeli
officials say they are not going to do that, and although they have
agreed to discuss Jerusalem's status with the Palestinians, they do
not plan for that status to change.
Arabs May Call for Summit on Acreage
By Laurie Kassman (Cairo)
Arab League Secretary General Esmet Abdel Meguid is rounding up
support for an Arab summit to deal with Israel's controversial
confiscation of land in east Jerusalem. The 22-nation Arab League
has warned that the Israeli action endangers the entire peace
process. The future status of Jerusalem is to be negotiated next
Israel's government will not reverse the decision to confiscate
less than 150 acres of land in east Jerusalem, but Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin says he will not do it again.
For Arab states in the region, that is not good enough. The head
of the Arab League wants to hold a summit to discuss the Israeli
Abdel Meguid told reporters he will consult with Morocco's King
Hassan, who heads the committee on Jerusalem. King Hassan wrote an
angry letter of protest to Rabin over the land seizure, calling it
a bombshell for the peace process.
The Arab League demanded an urgent meeting of the UN Security
Council. But few Arab diplomats expect much to come out of the
UN debate this week after the US ambassador said she would oppose
any resolution. Washington considers it a bilateral matter to be
resolved between Israel and the Palestinians.
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