Is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outdoing members of his government and the right-wing factions supporting his ruling coalition? Earlier this week, he made a flashy move by allowing the government to hold its weekly meeting inside the tunnels of Buraq Square in occupied East Jerusalem, on the occasion of the anniversary of the occupation of Jerusalem 56 years ago.
Abiding by the Israeli narrative, he talked about the anniversary as carrying the history of “unifying the city” to become the eternal and unified capital of the Jewish state. Judaism is surely known to be a religion, but it was coined as a political term by Israeli politicians about a decade or more ago, as a synonymous to the Israeli state, which was internationally recognized by the 1947 partition resolution, or at least became an alternative to it in the growing discourse among the majority of Israelis.
To this very date, the international legitimacy resolutions contradict this Israeli claim, not to mention the historical facts which have not been forgotten. Israel thus remains and will remain labelled as an occupying state, as long as there are Palestinian lands according to the conditions of 4 June 1967 under any form of Israeli occupation or settlement violation, and if there is any form of tampering with the fate and conditions of East Jerusalem, which was occupied on the celebrated anniversary. The Israeli Prime Minister’s ecstasy and smiles as he took memorial photos inside the Al-Aqsa tunnels and his talk about the battle he is waging for the unification of Jerusalem are just within the measures to impose a fait accompli. Netanyahu could not even ignore or overcome facing Western pressure, as one of his opponents in his alleged battle. This reality only allows for settlers’ encroachment and violation of the inalienable rights of Palestinian citizens in Jerusalem and elsewhere. The current Israeli government is not ashamed of the apartheid, subtly practiced by previous governments. Today, it adopts policies that invite its audience to outbid them, as it follows the declared “racial” and religious segregation and cleansing, which is its main target, especially with regard to Jerusalem because of its symbolism, of course.
The Israeli system works in harmony with the events revealed in order to achieve “declared” goals. Prior to the meeting, Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir stormed into the courtyard of the Al-Aqsa Mosque stating that the Temple Mount — referring to the Noble Sanctuary or Al-Aqsa Compound — will remain under Israeli sovereignty forever.
During the ministerial meeting, the Israeli government approved an additional allocation of $17 million to this year’s budget for digging tunnels under the Western Wall and the Old City. Meanwhile, it intends to approve another series of decisions and projects, as decided by Netanyahu, aimed at encouraging young Jews to move to Jerusalem City. These settlement projects represent the electoral promises that Netanyahu had previously approved before the components of his government coalition to secure their agreement to join him, a group of far-right parties who will not give up on achieving them and issuing government decisions to that avail. The model of the armed “National Guard” that Ben-Gvir grabbed from the government is a witness to a ministerial performance that will not decline in the future; on the contrary, it has been coexisting with international and regional criticism which had been a deterrent before. Such is the case with Minister Bezalel Smotrich when he denied the existence of Jordan as the supervisor of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and even denied the existence of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as a state in the first place in the map he published during his speech in Paris, denying the existence of the so-called “Palestinian people”, and describing it as a historical invention that did not exceed 100 years!
The settlement projects, which are concerning only the city of Jerusalem and were referred to by the Israeli Prime Minister without naming them, are adopted by his government which will not accept that its term in power ends without their completion. This is despite their danger and a clear confrontational nature that constitutes an integrated “Judaization process”, given the components of these projects. There is a plan for “forced displacement” in the eastern and western areas of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, which had previously sparked violent clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli authorities in May 2021 when the latter intended to evict 7 Palestinian families from their homes and replace them with Israeli settlers. Later, the Israeli government retracted the implementation of the administrative decision and postponed, not canceled, it after the outbreak of bloody clashes that resulted in the injury of more than 300 Palestinians from the neighborhood and the areas of the Old City of Jerusalem. The new decrees revive a similar population uprooting plan for 6 areas in the town of Silwan, the southern garrison of East Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, given its geographical location adjacent to the walls of the Old City to the south. In order to establish an Israeli religious reference that justifies the measures of swallowing the city of Silwan, a historical pretext was developed through the settler organization Elad, related to the City of David (locally known as Wadi Hilweh) archaeological site in order to link it to the biblical Jewish history of the region, on which the present settlement status quo in Silwan would be based.
The plan is not restricted to the borders of the main areas of East Jerusalem; there are other no less dangerous settlement projects including the “Torah gardens” to be built in the Al-Bustan neighborhood, the wooden bridge and cable car in the Wadi Al-Rababa area, the tunnel network in Wadi Hilweh, the “Silicon Valley” project in the Wadi Al-Joz area, and other postponed Judaization projects. The current government blatantly aims to penetrate the Arab areas in East Jerusalem, in order to bring them to a stage of dismemberment, similar to what happened in the West Bank since the signing of the Oslo Accords, so that the scene of the final solution on the ground becomes only a fantasy. There are no Palestinian territories that can implement it, and so that there is nothing on ground reflecting the names in the texts of the international legitimacy resolutions. The term “East Jerusalem”, for example, has previously shrunk and is now being seriously targeted by the Israeli government, is inevitably pushing the entire scene into a “religious war”. In its faith, Israel believes in this, and seems to be rushing it with enviable nihilism. Despite the imbalance of power, The Palestinians will not stand idly by in the face of this Israeli performance, which proceeds recklessly and uncalculatedly!