by Ruth Tenne
Jerusalem Day was declared a national holiday by the State of Israel on the 12th May 1968 in celebration of the “liberation” of East Jerusalem and the unification of the city in the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War. The medieval Maghrabi Quarter near the Jewish Wailing Wall was demolished soon after, and its Palestinian inhabitants were evicted in order to make way for an open space for Jewish worshipers . To celebrate this occasion the victorious hymn “Jerusalem of Gold” was written in glorification of the annexation of East Jerusalem and the reclaiming of the Western Wailing Wall .
In 1980 the Israeli Knesset passed the Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel, confirming Jerusalem’s status as the nation’s “eternal and indivisible capital”. UN Security Council Resolution 478 stated thereafter that the Jerusalem Law was “null and void and must be rescinded forthwith”. . The Resolution instructed UN member-states to withdraw their diplomatic representation from the city – refusing to confer official status on Israel’s illegal act of annexation.
The UN position, however, did not deter Israel from its continued attempts to cleanse East Jerusalem of its Palestinian inhabitants by the use of force and military orders. The so-called “City of Gold” turned into a ghettoised place with rubble from demolished Palestinian houses, razed Palestinian neighbourhoods , desecrated Muslim graveyards, and dispossessed homeless families serving as testimony to Israel’s underlying aim of “purifying” the city of its indigenous Palestinian population. According to the Head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – Jeff Halper – only 11 percent of East Jerusalem land is available for Palestinian housing as result of Israel’s discriminatory policies which means that Jerusalemite Palestinians are virtually barred from 93 percent of the municipality of Jerusalem. The overall goal is to confine Palestinians to small enclaves in East Jerusalem, or to remove them from the city altogether – an action referred to by Israel as the “quiet transfer”.