Judaization versus Internationalisation: Behind the Escalation in Jerusalem

Jerusalem has been the scene of several conflcits between Palestinians, Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers, especially in the neighbourhoods of Bab al-Amud and Sheikh Jarrah whose residents are being threatened with eviction for the benefit of the settlers. The clashes intensified in the last week of the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan. Several states have expressed their concern and denounced the incidents in Jerusalem, especially with respect to evicting the residents of Sheikh Jarrah from their homes to make way for Jewish settlers. The US called for “calm” in Jerusalem and for Israel to avoid evicting Palestinian families and handing over to Israeli settlers in reference to the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.  US State Department spokesperson Jalina Porter told reporters that Washington was “deeply concerned about the potential eviction of Palestinian families in the Silwan neighbourhood and in Sheikh Jarrah, of course, many of whom have lived in their homes for generations. But again, as we have consistently said, it is critical to avoid unilateral steps that would exacerbate tensions or take us further away from peace, and that would include evictions, settlement activity, and home demolitions” (MAFN Kuwait News Agency 07/05/2021).

This American standpoint reveals that although the Biden administration has been seeking a de-escalation in order to allow the issue of keeping Jerusalem as the capital of Israel to pass, it is however at the same time profiting from this tension on the ground by way of demonstrating that Israel is incapable of protecting the rights of the Palestinians and the right to worship for non-Jews in Jerusalem, and generating an international climate which presses for the internationalization of the sacred precincts.

However, Israel had anticipated this step and set about besieging East Jerusalem with settlement belts, focusing on usurping the land, expelling Palestinian Arabs through the annexation law, and demolishing all the monumental buildings adjacent to Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to Judaize the city and seize the sacred precincts.

Whilst on the other hand, Netanyahu is attempting through these aggressive manoevres to gain the support of the parties in favour of such acts so that he may stay in office, with the help of the Arab states whose ambassadors and diplomats attended, in the midst of clashes, an Iftar banquet hosted by the Israeli foreign minister, and the acquiescenece of Mahmoud Abbas, Abu Mazen, who had not wished for any Palestinian elections undermining the position of Fatah within the Palestinian Authority to take place; and this is what happened.  

America for her part had been hoping for the Palestinian elections to be a platform for her plans for Jerusalem and regional peace; hence, she exhorted the European states to exert pressure on the Palestinian Authority and Israel to hold the elections, but they failed. Whilst, the Jordanian foreign ministry declared on 29 April that it had provided the Palestinian foreign ministry with 14 ratified agreements meant for the people of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in support of their claim of their lands and property. This manoeuvre by Jordan was viewed as an attempt to absolve itself of blame and wash its hands of the issue’s fallout, but the Israeli court refused to accept all the documents submitted by the residents under the pretext that the submissions “arrived late”.  

Through these circumstances and the escalation against the people of Jerusalem by the settlers, who previously have never intensified any aggression within the courtyards of Al-Aqsa as was done during Ramadan, and with the backing of the Israeli courts and police force, it seems clear that the Israeli authorities have initiated a host of physical steps in an accelerated manner to complete the Judaization of Jerusalem through expelling the Palestinians from its districts, in line with the outcome of Donald Trump’s decision, just as was done with the Maghrebi Quarter in 1967.

Israel is hence taking advantage of the political cover provided by the Arab normalisation and alliance, Mohammed bin Salman’s yearning for power and his desire for normalisation, the Palestinian Authority’s craving to resume to recover the legitimacy it has lost due to the divisions among its ranks, the quarrelling of its leaders over the spoils, and the failure to exact a false legitimacy through elections.

Israel is also taking advantage of the frailty of the Jordanian regime which has been seeking foreign backing after it had lost its domestic one, especially following the recent saga between the king and his brother Hamza and as the voices calling for stripping the palace of its authorities has grown louder.   

Although all stakeholders have hastened to invest in these events, it is, however, certain that the events in question fall under Israel’s race against time to impose the realities of Judaizing the city of Jerusalem, deeming it as the perpetual capital of Israel, forcing this subterfuge as a fait accompli in the face of any anticipated move pertinent to the negotiations, and shoring up Netanyahu’s domestic position in the face of his opponents.

This narrative was corroborated by Israeli law institutions by announcing that the eviction orders fall within the plans to Judaize Jerusalem, in addition to the demolition of Palestinian homes and confiscatiion of their land.

It was also corroborated by the call of a host of directed columnists and political leaders such as Iraqi prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, and former Lebanese foreign minister, Gebran Bassil, to establish a transboundary and trans religious “Eastern League” under economic and counterinsurgent themes to withstand the quagmire of “Balkanisation” in which the region has plunged during the Arab Spring, in order to efface the borders and redraw them on nationalistic and sectarian grounds, thus allowing minorities such the Shia, Kurds, and Amazigh to demand federal independence and to remove the deep-seated obstacles to American plans to integrate Israel within Greater Middle East. 

Copyright © LCIR 2021

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