zondag 22 maart 2015
Leaked EU report describes situation in Jerusalem as ''extremely polarized''
Arrest in Jerusalem, August 2014 (Photo EPA/Jim Hollander)
This is a ritual: EU-representatives in Jerusalem yearly prepare a report on Jerusalem, that every year is ritually leaked and that always describes the sitauton as critical, what it undoubtedly is. However, the EU never follows up on these reports:
A leaked EU report cautioned that Jerusalem has reached its highest point of "polarization and violence" since the Second Intifada in 2005, according to international news sources. Describing the upsurge of a "vicious cycle of violence … increasingly threatening the viability of the two-state solution," the report blames increasing tensions on the continuation of "systematic" settlement building by Israel in "sensitive areas" of Jerusalem, writes Ma'an News, quoting the Guardian.
Also included is criticism of disproportionate policing towards Palestinian residents, as well as their rampant evictions and home demolitions throughout occupied East Jerusalem in 2014.
Jew praying on the Haram al-Sharif (Photo Arutz 7)
The report calls for greater European sanctions against settlement construction, providing suggestions of possible punitive measures against extremist settlers and products made in settlements.
Describing Jerusalem as “one of the most emotive and problematic issues” in the Middle East peace process, the report says: “The tensions, mistrust and violence which have accompanied developments in the city in the course of the year have reached extremely high levels.
“These developments are increasingly threatening the viability of the two-state solution and, in turn, risk precipitating further levels of polarisation and violence.” In a bleak warning, the report continues: “2014 has been distinguished by a number of specific, disturbing and often violent developments” – noting a cycle of stone-throwing, terror attacks and heavy-handed tactics by Israeli police, which, if the root causes were not addressed, were likely to lead to “further escalation and extreme polarisation”.
“These incidents have occurred against the background of the systematic increase in settlement activity, tensions over the Haram al-Sharif and rising levels of tensions and acts of violence on both sides.” Placing part of the blame on Israel’s “unabated” policy of continued settlement construction, it adds: “The expansion of settlements has continued, including in highly sensitive areas … and [has] been followed in force by waves of demolitions and evictions.”
Eviction of old woman in Sheikh al-Jaraah (East-Jerusalem). (Photo AP, the picture is from 2009).
A second key factor identified by the report for the deteriorating security situation in Jerusalem is the continuing tensions over the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount complex, which it blames on “serious radicalisation” on both sides.The report notes: “Almost on a daily basis settlers and national religious activists have ascended on to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount under the protection of Israeli forces.”
Although the report concedes that Israel has reduced the size of these groups by two-thirds at the end of last year, and eased restrictions in place during parts of last year on Muslim worshippers, it warned that the perception still exists among Palestinians of a desire on Israel’s part to change the longstanding and sensitive status quo.
A third factor the report identifies as fuelling polarisation is the heavy-handed policing of Palestinian areas of east Jerusalem, where additional Israeli forces sent to quell disturbances “have been engaged in recurrent violent confrontations with Palestinian youth that led to more than 1,300 arrests (with 40% of the detainees being minors)”.
Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem face ongoing pressure and discrimination, as the Israeli government has a stated aim of "Judaizing" Jerusalem, which means ensuring eternal Jewish control over the city through a policy of limiting Palestinian rights to residency and construction while building homes specifically for Jews across the city.
Settlers often receive protection by private security forces contracted by the state, while Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem lack citizenship rights and are instead classified only as "residents" whose permits can be revoked if they move away from the city for more than a few years.