Jerusalem | Six-Day War in 1967 | Walls that bring ‘peace’ | Coexistence in Claiming Unity
Jerusalem, before 1967, used to be divided into the eastern and western part, with the former governed by Jordan and the latter owned by Israel. The 1967 Arab-Israeli war, succeeding the first one in 1948, helped the winning state ie. Israel to unilaterally annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem on 27 June, 1967. Since then, Jerusalem has been ‘unified’ as one city again.
With the increasing number of bombing of Israeli cities by Palestinian suicide bombers after 1996, the idea of establishing a separation wall, or fence, as Israelis prefer to refer to, became popular among political figures.
Walls suggest defence, protection and privacy. To Israel, it is also a tool to divide, split and isolate the Palestine. Claiming the barriers are for prevention of violent incidents, they are also aggressive measures to fragment the Palestinian urban and social fabric.
Does the existence of the separation wall/fence encircling the periphery of the post-war Jerusalem contradicts with the envision of a unified city of Jerusalem? The narrative aims to explore how effective these gestures can bring Israel a peaceful unification of the city.
The Israeli government decided to construct the ‘separation wall’ of around 1,200 kilometers to close off Jerusalem from the West Bank. With the route drafted by the military and security leaders in June 2002, according to Neazh Mashiah, the director of the project, the wall/fence primarily are intended to realise demographic, territorial and ethnic objectives. These walls are either 8-9 meters tall concrete walls with watchtower and sniper position or electric barriers of 3-5 meters tall barbed wire, electric sensors and cameras.
What does unification mean to Israel? Judaization, meaning achieving Jew dominant presence, is aimed by Israel since its annexation of Eastern Jerusalem in 1967. Under this objective, differentiation on planning policies often exists between the receiving end of the Jews and the Arabs. Unification, to Israel does not mean the peaceful coexistence of the two ethnicities but the gradual dominance of Jews and in return, the establishment of power of an ethnically homogenous society.
The post-war city development since 1967 has a colonial-settler nature. The walls do not only bound Palestinians and Israelis’ free movements, but also hide Palestine from the Israelis on their side of the wall. It is a step towards physically denying and repressing something’s existence and self-connection to the other, despite the close distance and relationship that exists between the Jews and the Arab neighbourhoods. Often creating differentiation of class among the population of the original settlers and that of the ruling country, colonialism seek for interests and resources from the locals to strengthen sovereignty of the coloniser. The application of physical barriers is the most apparent measure of segregation that Israel has done to the two ethnicities.
Can defence take another form without reinforces the idea of ‘threat’ or ‘enemies’? To what extent Judaization has to be taken to in Jerusalem?
- Khamaisi, Rassem, and Rami Nasrallah. “Jerusalem: From Siege to a City’s Collapse?.” City of Collision (2006): 163-170.
- Thawaba, Salem, and Hussein Al-Rimmawi. “Spatial transformation of Jerusalem: 1967 to present.” Journal of Planning History 12, no. 1 (2013): 10-11.