In June 1967, just days after the end of the Six Day War, the core principles of the "unification of Jerusalem " were determined – that is, the annexation of the Arab part of the city, which had hitherto been under Jordanian rule, to the State of Israel. The government was swift to legislate certain decisions, first with the Law and Administration Ordinance (Amendment No. 11) Law, 5727-1967, passed by the Knesset on June 27, which meant that legally "the State shall extend to any area of Eretz Israel designated by the Government by order." Following soon after was the Jerusalem and the Holy Places Law, 5727-1967. The spirit of this law was to ensure freedom of access to holy places and that these places be protected from desecration and their visitors from harm, though an additional aim was to demonstrate to the Western, Christian world that the State of Israel would respect and preserve the holy sites that were now in its jurisdiction.
JIIS researcher Dr. Amnon Ramon, in his long-time exploration of the history of East Jerusalem, found that several important government decisions stood behind legislation passed in the first two weeks after the 1967 war - the influence of which is keenly felt still today.
"First was the decision to annex East Jerusalem, and not the West Bank or other territories, to Israel," he explains. "This decision was reached with full consensus of the ministers in the government session of 11 June 1967. Once that was agreed, they started addressing the details, about which legal means to employ to apply Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem. For example, should a special law for Jerusalem be passed declaring East Jerusalem part of the state? Would 'minor' legislation suffice, meaning that they did not want to arouse strong opposition on the part of the international community. Should services be extended to East Jerusalem without special legislation? These questions aroused heated debate." But on one matter there was no argument at all – the matter of the "unification of Jerusalem."
Then there was the decision to enable the Jerusalem municipality, headed by Mayor Teddy Kollek, to provide services in East Jerusalem. "It is interesting to note that there was a clause in the law that enabled the interior minister to, 'by order, appoint additional councilors from among the inhabitants of the newly-included area.' In other words, they intended to ensure representation of the residents of east Jerusalem in the city council – but this clause was never implemented." Thus was the reality sealed in the months after the war by which the Arab residents, who comprised a quarter of the population of "unified Jerusalem," have no representation on the city council.
Another of the decisions at the time that pertained to the borders of the annexed territory, which most of the ministers understood meant molding the State's borders. "On this matter, there was no consensus among the ministers. In fact, the government decided not to finalize a decision on the future of the West Bank. This of course had repercussions regarding the borders of Jerusalem." The working premise among many of the ministers, Ramon explains, was that the destiny of the West Bank territories was dependent on negotiations of a future settlement between Israel and Jordan or negotiations with Palestinian representatives over the establishment of an autonomous or independent Palestinian entity. The city's borders were then drafted by a ministerial committee, which took an approach that was between "maximalist" and "minimalist." Ultimately, 70 sq.m. were added to the city ("and not the 'maximalist' call for 200 sq.m."). Demographics – that is, how to reduce the number of Arab residents in the annexed territory – was a central factor behind the government's setting of the city's borders on 26 June.
These decisions serve as the background to the focus of Ramon's research: the decision to grant the Arabs of East Jerusalem (some 70,000 individuals in 1967) the status of residents and not citizens of the State of Israel.
"What began as a temporary decision, later becoming permanent, to grant East Jerusalem Arabs residency and permit them to retain their Jordanian citizenship had far-reaching implications on all fields of life in East Jerusalem – and that remains the case today." Jordan continued to oversee many aspects of local life: the school curriculum in East Jerusalem was Jordanian and the Waqf [Islamic religious endowment] on the Temple Mount continued to be funded by the Jordanian government; there was even an office that issued passports for many years. But after it closed in 1988, and passports lapsed, the local population eventually found itself without citizenship to anywhere. "The residency decision actually led to a strengthening of the relationship between Jerusalem's Arabs and those on the West Bank and in the Jordanian kingdom. It also meant that the Jerusalemites, like those in the West Bank and Gaza, could visit Jordan and other Arab states in line with the 'open bridge' policy set by then-defense minister Moshe Dayan.
"The decision not to make Jerusalem Arabs citizens of the State of Israel is one of the main reasons for their lack of integration into Israeli society, in Jerusalem and all of Israel." The establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994 and the granting to East Jerusalem Arabs the right to vote in the 1996 elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council, which is situated in Ramallah, further complicated things. "Today, these people are torn between an identity as Israeli residents, as sort-of citizens of Jordan (whose impact on the city has been dwindling since 1988), and as Palestinians who see themselves as part of the Palestinian people."
Ramon says that unlike other decisions taken after the Six Day War, little is known about how in fact this residency situation came about. "It is not clear how this special status was determined and why the Arab residents of East Jerusalem were not granted full Israeli citizenship. It is not even clear whether the status 'resident of Israel' was defined by the government or whether it simply became a default status over time before the High Court ruled on the matter in 1988." In any event, he adds, the issue is inextricably linked with comprehensive Israeli policy in East Jerusalem and to the question of how the leaders of the state saw the future of the city and the large Arab population that lives there.
Ramon is continuing his investigation of this subject of residency, in the broader context of "unified Jerusalem" – how it has evolved since 1967, its significance in daily life and its long-term implications on Israeli policy and the activities of the governing authorities in East Jerusalem. The research will include the drafting of future alternative scenarios and policy recommendations regarding the status of Jerusalem's Arabs, taking into consideration the two possible options: that no political settlement is reached and that there is in fact progress toward an interim or permanent settlement.