Wednesday, March 24, 2010

PACE standpoint: Jerusalem is not the exclusive right of any one religious affiliation.


Netanyahu in an arrogant tone exclaimed that Jerusalem belongs to the Jews. He said they are the rightful inheritors of the land for over 3,000 years. These were the justifications for building more Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, a move that upset even the US, Israel’s closest ally, triggering an all-time low in the US-Israel relationship, or so they claimed.

Let us examine the words of Netanyahu in an objective manner, free from the emotional trap of sectarian leanings. Jerusalem is the oldest human settlement since the dawn of civilization. The land has been peopled even before Abraham, the patriarch (father of all the three semitic religions; the jews, Christians and Muslims) arrived on the scene. The Canaanites, the predecessors of the Palestinian people were joined by the Philistins and the Phoneceans. On record they were the earliest residents. The prosperity of Urshalem, the name Jerusalem was ascribed to in the days of the old, prompted other nations to come and partake in the development of the place and reaped the riches. Others with imperial intent ransacked the city, razed it to the ground, banished and enslaved its people. The Assyrians and the Babilonians came to mind. During those periods the jews (in lineage they were the sons of Yaakub (Jacob) or Israel) prospered and lived side by side with other nations that preceeds them or those that came after. But the fact remains, Abraham came from Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) and until his demise, he did not own even a small piece of land.

A great calamity befell the jews when the Romans came and level the city to the ground. A time passed and again the jews grew to prominence. Then they were visited by the second calamity and again the jews were banished and forbidden from the city. These events were told in the holy Quran and Testaments and substantiated by historical facts. The city renamed as Aelia Capitalonia remain out of bounds for the Jews for 700 years until it was taken by the muslims under the stewardship of the second caliph, Umar al-Khattab. Upon receiving the keys to Jerusalem (Ursalem), Umar al-Khattab decreed that everyone is welcome to stay and pray in Jerusalem. This declaration known as al-Udha al-Umurriyah guarantees the rights of every person in Jerusalem to practice their religion and their places of worship will be safeguarded by the authority. That was the state of affairs until the arrival of the crusades 400 years later.

Justice and freedom prevailed during those days that at the time of the arrival of the crusaders, jews and Christians made up the majority of the people in Jerusalem. History was again repeated. Just like the Assyrians, the Babilonians and the Romans before them, the crusaders were no different. They put everyone not from the Christian faith to the sword. Again the jews were persecuted alongside their muslim brothers. A hundred years passed before the city was liberated by Salahuddin from the clutches of terror. Peace was restored and all three communities again live in harmony and tolerance. Such was the scenario for a thousand years until 1948 when the Zionist succeeded in taking over Palestine and established the entity called Israel. The jews who considered themselves as victims of holocaust, were behaving just like their nazi pepetrators, persecuting the people of Palestine, taking over their properties and banished them from their homeland. In 1967, Israel invaded East Jerusalem and the West Bank and systematically displaced the original inhabitants with immigrant jews from Europe and Russia. What they claimed as jewish land is occupied Palestinian territory. Occupied Palestinian territory is the term used by the United Nations. This is based on the UN resolution 242 adopted by the security council right after Israeli occupation in 1967. The resolution calls for the withdrawal of Israel back to the greenline drawn in 1949 i.e. from the West Bank and East Jerusalem. That resolution is binding since it was adopted by the security council. Failure to comply implies one of two things – economic sanctions or military action.

Therefore Netanyahu’s announcement on the settlement activities in East Jerusalem should be viewed against this historical and legal backdrop. Not only the settlements were illegal, they were built on an illegally occupied land.

In conclusion no one should be deceived that the jews are the rightful inheritors of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is commonly owned by every community resident in the area. The immigrants who came and transplanted in east Jerusalam and West bank are the usurpers and they must vacate the land and return them to their rightful owners be they muslims, Christians or even jews. Secondly, from the legal standpoint, East Jerusalem and the West Bank are under occupation which has been declared unlawful by the United Nations.
Therefore in simple language, Israel is building illegal settlements on illegal land.

Dr Hafidzi Mohd Noor



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