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Monday, February 07, 2011

Palestine Papers: PLO distinguishes between "Wailing Wall" and the Kotel

One of the more interesting papers released in the "Palestine Papers" is something called The End Game, which is a presumably US (or perhaps Israel)-written outline of what a final agreement would look like, along with PLO comments. Meaning that it was meant to encapsulate "what everyone knows" the final agreement would be like. It was written in April 2008.

Here's one section of the main document:

The Capital of the State of Palestine will comprise essentially of the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem including the Holy Site of Al-Haram over which the State of Palestine will have sovereignty 9. Israel will have sovereignty 10 over the Western Wall 11, the Jewish Quarter and parts of the Armenian Quarter 12. The City of Jerusalem will be an open city, Capital for both Israel (Yerushalayim) and Palestine (AlQods)13.

The PLO's notes:

9 The sentence, as drafted, is both overly vague and problematic. The proposition that Arab areas will be Palestinian while Israeli settlements in “East Jerusalem” will be Israeli suggests that the Israeli definition of municipal Jerusalem is the starting point. This runs counter to the Palestinian position (and numerous UN resolutions) that Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank is illegal and that the base line of 1967 must also apply in East Jerusalem.

The PLO position on Jerusalem is that East Jerusalem, along the 1967 borders and within its pre-occupation municipal lines shall be the capital of Palestine, and West Jerusalem shall be the capital of Israel. This articulation of the position is intended to define the Palestinian Capital in the agreement with Israel to include the Old City and its surroundings. Any possible future expansion of the city post-statehood will be subject solely to the discretion of Palestinians.
Meaning that the PLO, for all its supposed flexibility, was not giving up any part of the Old City, but perhaps just granting access to some Jews to their homes and holy place under Arab rule.

10 The Wailing Wall is part of the western wall of the Haram Al-Sharif, which must be under Palestinian sovereignty. Therefore, granting Israel sovereignty over the western wall or sections thereof would run counter to that. Israel’s primary interests are to preserve the religious significance of and Jewish prayer rights at the Wailing Wall, which can be met by other means short of granting sovereignty over the Wall to Israel (e.g., prayer/access rights, administration rights over the surface of the Wailing Wall, etc.)
Pretty self-explanatory and it again shows that the supposed flexibility of the PLO did not extend to the sovereignty of the Kotel.

Now, they try to cut down the size of the Kotel (short for Kotel HaMaaravi, "Western Wall," the Hebrew name of the Wall for at least a thousand years:)

11 Should be the “Wailing Wall” rather than “Western Wall”. The entire Western Wall is 470 meters long, whereas the Wailing Wall portion, on which Jews practice their religion, is just 60 meters long. It should be noted that prior to the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967 the length of the Wailing Wall section of the western wall was 28 meters. Following its occupation of East Jerusalem, Israel demolished all the houses of the Maghriba uarter adjacent to the wall in order to expand the area of the Wailing Wall to its current length of 60 meters length and to create a plaza in front of it. It should also be noted that currently there are many Palestinian houses attached to western wall from the northern edge of the Wailing Wall to the northern edge of the western wall.
The Arabs are pretending that the open plaza of the Kotel is the only place that is holy to Jews, when in fact the entire Temple Mount and supporting walls (as well as all of Jerusalem!) are holy. In the PLO's formuation, the Kotel ha-Katan (which is actually holier than the section of the wall visible on the plaza) as well as other places that Jews worship would become Jew-free - just the way the Mufti wanted it.
12 The Jewish Quarter nowadays is comprised of the historical Jewish quarter, along with the Palestinian Maghriba quarter and other Palestinian houses that were demolished by Israel. “Parts of the Armenian Quarter” is overly vague and, as such, opens the door to the further expansion of the Jewish Quarter. Furthermore, most houses currently occupied by Jews in the Armenian Quarter were seized illegally by settlers.
What is the "Palestinian Maghriba" quarter? It appears to refer to the supposed Mughrabi quarter, which was defined after 1967 as the section in front of what is now the Kotel plaza. Before 1967 I cannot find any mention of this supposed "quarter," let alone any mention of it being "Palestinian."

For the past several hundred years Jerusalem had four quarters (hence, the name "quarter"). As Encyclopedia Britannica wrote in 1888:
There are now four quarters: —that of the Moslems (including the Haram) on the north-east, the Jewish quarter on the south east, the Armenian quarter on the south-west, the Christian on the north-west. The quarters are bounded by David (or Temple) Street, running east from the Jaffa gate, and by the street running north and south immediately east of the Holy Sepulchre (called Marat el Yehud on the south and Tarik Bab el 'Amud on the north).
Britannica goes on to show that the PLO's attempt to limit Jews to the Jewish Quarter is against history as well:
The quarters are not, however, exclusively occupied by any nationality, many rich Jews having houses in the Armenian and even in the Moslem quarter. In the 12th century the present Moslem quarter was occupied by the Jews, and called the Juiverie.
Even the enlightened, intelligent and moderate PLO negotiators prove here their bigotry and tendency to lie.