Sunday, January 15, 2006

Israel allow Jerusalem Palestinians to vote

Israel has finally approved voting in East Jerusalem for the Palestinian Authority elections. The one caveat is as expected that no canvassing and no ballot slips of the terrorist group Hamas is to be allowed.
This situation has raised many questions for Israel's policies while finding inconsistencies in statements made by the upper political echelons. On the one hand, Ariel Sharon and his government always told reporters and visiting politicians that Israel will always be the united and eternal capital of Jerusalem. The second point is these same Arab Jerusalemites receive benefits and taxes from the Israeli government yet vote in foreign elections. The third, perhaps most important point is Arab Jerusalemites have resident rights given to them by Israel yet they have no vote in Israeli elections. Surely, a group of people shouldn't be prevented from voting in an election.
It is a sore sticking point for the Israeli administration but it is time they nailed their policy to a mast and stuck to it. Either Israel has to apply their own law to all residents of legally annexed Jerusalem or give up their rights in East Jerusalem with all that entails.
This duplicitous policy which allows such a grey area can not go on, a policy must be set and accept all of the consequences that arrives with the decision. It is a terribly difficult decision for Israel to make. In 1980 Israel enacted its "Jerusalem Law" formally declaring East and West Jerusalem together, "whole and united" to be "the capital of Israel". This surely contradicts the current policy of allowing residents of a part of the city to vote in one elections and another part in another. Doesn't sound very whole or united to me!
Also, if Israel were to cede East Jerusalem in a future agreement, what would be the status of the Old City and its residents. Is it conceivable that Israel would cede the Temple Mount and the countless other Jewish holy sites over the Green Line that Jews were barred from visiting when not in Israeli hands.
At this time Israel seems to have one policy for the ground and one for the people who live on it, this anomaly can not continue ad infinitum. Israel has to state with one voice what its policy is and stick to it regardless of internal or external opposition. Either Jerusalem and all of its residents should be part of a 'united and whole' Jerusalem which involves full and equal rights for all or it should stop its rhetoric and face the consequences of a divided Jerusalem in legal fact.

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