Monday, November 15, 2004

 

East Jerusalem Voters

Ha'aretz has an interesting editorial today about Arab voters in East Jerusalem. The issue, which was a hot one during the first PA elections in 1996, is resurfacing now that there are plans to have elections for the president of PA on January 9th. The status of East Jerusalemites is one in which the Israelis would like to have their cake and eat it, too. Arabs in East Jerusalem are not Israeli citizens. Instead they are deemed "permanent residents" and therefore are not eligible to vote for elections of the Knesset. In 1996 they were allowed to vote in PA elections (but could only run if they proved they had residence elsewhere in the West Bank as well). There was much outcry, though, over allowing these Arabs to vote in the PA elections was "undermining Israeli sovereignty" in Jerusalem (although it should be noted that Israel's "sovereignty" in East Jerusalem is disputed). And that was under a Labor-led government. Now, with Likud heading the government, these "concerns" are being raised again, and there is a strong likelihood that the Likudniks may not be as "generous" in 2005 as the Labor party was in 1996. Ha'aretz writes:
This population ... cannot be stripped of all political expression. In other words, if Israel does not want to take on a population of around a quarter of a million Jerusalemite Arabs, it must enable them to implement their political rights within the framework of the PA.
And this, of course, should only be the start. There is an undeniable campaign to deny Palestinian East Jerusalemites their property rights (again to fortify Israeli claims of "sovereignty" over all of Jerusalem; see here and here for just two examples).

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