Arabs Plan 'Disengagement' From Jerusalem

A group of Israeli Arabs in eastern Jerusalem has announced plans for independence in the capital and demand the United Nations help them.

Hana Levi Julian ,

A group of Arab-Israeli citizens in eastern Jerusalem announced plans on Sunday to establish their own city council in what they say will be a formal “disengagement” from the western half of the capital.

The group has also said it will turn to the United Nations on Monday and ask it to officially recognize the so-called municipality. The group, called “The Jerusalem Association for Civil Institutions,” says it has connections to at least 130 Arab institutions in the eastern part of Jerusalem.

The group has also said it will turn to the United Nations.

Group leader Hazam al-Ghrabli, claimed in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that the U.N. recognizes Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem as “occupied territory.”

“All U.N. resolutions since 1948 are based on the fact that Jerusalem is occupied territory, and that the occupation has no right to change its legal status, its geographical character or demographic makeup,” read the letter.

“It is the right of its residents to take the necessary steps to organize and maintain their civilian lives,” claimed al-Ghrabli. He accused the government of working to “expel its residents from Arab Jerusalem to gain control over their lands and property.”

Mr. al-Ghrabli insisted that the U.N. must recognize the new attempt at Arab self-rule within the city, saying “We expect the U.N. to recognize us and send observers to help us in realizing this step.”

Mr. al-Ghrabli also denied that he or other members of the group had any connection to the Palestinian Authority, saying that neither the PA nor the PLO supported the group. “We believe that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority discriminate against the residents of [Eastern] Jerusalem.”

In reaction to the "disengagement" initiative, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski reacted harshly, saying that the group behind it is not native to Jerusalem.

"Tens of thousands of Arabs infiltrate Jerusalem every year," Lupolianski explained in a press statement. "These people suffer from distress due to lack of action by the Palestinian Authority. They wish to become residents of Jerusalem, under Israeli sovereignty, because of the high-quality conditions and services they receive here. Just like the UN has no authority to divide London, Paris or Washington DC, it has no authority to re-divide Jerusalem."

The Jerusalem Municipality statement further noted that "most of the residents of eastern Jerusalem work in cooperation with the municipality and community centers and have no desire for this incitement, nor do they wish the city to be divided."