One Building at a Time

From the July 2007 Trumpet Print Edition

It is said that possession is ninth tenths of the law. If that is true, Israel has already been giving away Jerusalem to the Arabs—one building at a time.

A 2006 report sponsored by the privately funded Office for Public Inquiries for East Jerusalem showed that Jerusalem’s Arabs have constructed more than 20,000 illegal structures in the city in the last two decades. The illegal construction has been met with virtually no opposition from a listless Israeli government. Such impotence in the face of danger is a telling sign of Israel’s lack of commitment to Jerusalem.

Caroline Glick, deputy managing editor for the Jerusalem Post, summarized the shocking details of the report. “The political aim of the illegal construction is made clear by its financing sources,” reported Glick. “Since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, the PA, Saudi Arabia and the EU have spent millions of dollars in financing illegal construction in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, often on state and privately owned lands” (May 14).

Great strategy and coordination has gone into planning where the illegal Arab structures should be located, as Glick pointed out: “In an effort to degrade the Jewish character of the city, for instance, Arabs have built homes on state-owned lands adjacent to the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives ….” Illegal Arab structures have been constructed at other strategic locations throughout the city, including along major traffic arteries and near airports. Illegally built, Arab-owned homes and buildings now straddle Highways 60, 1, 4 and 443 in Jerusalem, and illegal construction has “rendered the Atarot airport insecure” (ibid.).

But the most outrageous angle of this story is the sheer impotence Israel has shown by not responding to these Palestinian incursions.

Reported Glick, “The illegal Arab construction, which has placed most neighborhoods in Jerusalem and the highway approaches to the city within rifle range of hostile gunmen, has been met with indifference by the Israeli governing bureaucracy. …

“With the exception of the Netanyahu government, every Israeli government since 1993 has enabled the Arabs to undermine the state’s control of Jerusalem. While paying lip service to the city’s unity, by errors of commission and omission, Israel’s governments have failed to defend the property rights of public and private land owners in Jerusalem. They have allowed the PA, enemy states like Saudi Arabia and the EU to openly abet illegal building projects in the city” (emphasis mine).

The Israeli government may claim it loves Jerusalem, but the reality on the ground tells a different story. The fact that all this illegal construction, much of which potentially endangers Jewish residents, has occurred over the past 20 years with little opposition from the Israeli government reveals that most Israeli leaders have lost their love for Jerusalem.

Any politician who cherished Jewish influence over Jerusalem would surely fight fiercely to enforce the laws against illegal construction. Surely if Jewish residents of Jerusalem deeply prized Jewish sovereignty of the city, they would be pressuring their government to take action. There are segments of the Jewish population in Jerusalem that are upset, even furious about the illegal construction occurring—but, it appears, not enough to make a difference.