Weiss: In order to be taken seriously in U.S. Establishment discourse, you must swear that you believe in two states existing side-by-side. This proposition (which has been held out to the stateless Palestinians for many decades now in one form or another without any consequence but further dispossesssion) today involves a Palestinian capital in the village of Abu Dis, which is just east of Israel’s expanded Jerusalem border
I’ve never been to Abu Dis, but lately I was reading Tom Suarez’s striking book of essays and photos of Palestine, Palestine Sixty Years Later, when I came on the photo above of the Dome of the Rock as viewed from the village of Abu Dis. The whole reason for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem is the connection to this holy site and the Old City, which means not only the religious connection but the commercial/tourist benefits. What kind of connection exists between Abu Dis and the Old City far beyond the separation wall?
Suarez sent me two other photographs of Abu Dis from his book, and I asked him what he thinks of the idea of Abu Dis as a capital:
When in 1990 Saddam Hussein invaded and occupied Kuwait, the West raced to Kuwait’s defense and punished the Iraqi people with crippling sanctions for their leader’s aggression. But in response to Israel’s equally illegal and more brutal 1967 invasion and occupation of East Jerusalem, the West amplified its policy of rewarding Israel, punishing the Palestinians, and blocking any attempt to hold Israel to UN Resolutions and international law.
Although East Jerusalem is no more part of Israel than is Paris or Tahiti, in 1980 Israel "annexed" East Jerusalem and claimed an "undivided" Jerusalem as the country’s capital. The UN responded by reaffirming that East Jerusalem is illegally occupied Palestinian territory and that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital. Israel simply defied international law, as it has done with every UN resolution addressing the Palestinian issue since 1948.
But Palestinians have long envisioned East Jerusalem as the capital of their as yet unrealized nation, and so Israel had to dampen the appearance that their illegal seizure of East Jerusalem was an impediment to peace. The answer was to propose a nearby West Bank village as the future capital of a Palestinian state. At the same time, Israel strangled that very same village by dissecting it into two with the apartheid Wall, annexing the area on the west of the wall into its illegal "greater Jerusalem," and suffocating what was left with ever-growing Israeli settlements. Thus Israel is not only accelerating its ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem, but also crippling the very town it claims should be the capital of the Palestinian state it never allows to exist. Welcome to Abu Dis.
The apartheid Wall severed Abu Dis’s historic link with Jerusalem and crippled much of the little economic life that had thus far survived the Occupation. Not only was the social fiber of the village torn in two, but indeed families were broken up, family members permanently separated by the Wall. In some cases even fathers and mothers were torn apart, their ID cards placing them on opposite sides of the Wall. Shepherds and their flocks were completely cut off from thier grazing land, farmers from their fields. And further exacerbating the population squeeze, Bedouin whose villages Israel had razed in the Jordan Valley were brought to Abu Dis and left there.
Palestinian leaders — including Abbas, who commonly rubber-stamps whatever the West dictates — have refused to accept Abu Dis as a future capital.