The first political planning decision in the ‘reunified’ city concerned plans not for construction but for the geopolitical determination of borders…the determining consideration, ‘a maximum of vacant space with a minimum of Arabs,’ laid down as the basic tenet in the delineation of the borders, made possible the planning and implementation of the prinicipal political objective: the creation of physical and demographic faits accomplis.
[It became] clear that the planners must set their sights on the vacant areas on the outskirts of the city and surrounding it. These areas would have to be expropriated from their Arab owners. The legal instrument at the disposal of the Israelis for this purpose was the Land Ordinance (Expropriation for Public Purposes) of 1943, which grants the treasury minister the authority to expropriate private land when there is a ‘public need’ for such action – with the definition of ‘public need’ left to the minister himself…
But no one was deceived by the designation of these ‘ethnically colorblind’ needs; the expropriated areas were being taken from Arabs and handed over to Jews. This was an extraordinary interpretation of the word public: The only legitimate public was Jewish, and therefore only jews were entitled to benefit from the expropriation.
From Meron Benvenisti, City of Stone: The Hidden History of Jerusalem, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1996, pp.154-55.
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