Israel’s opposition leader Isaac Herzog proposes to separate Palestinian districts in the occupied al-Quds (Jerusalem) with higher walls and checkpoints from its Jewish sections.
Under the plan, 28 Palestinian neighborhoods would be separated from Jewish districts and settlements in the city by means of miles of new concrete barriers and smart fences.
The plan, if implemented, would transform al-Quds into sectarian cantons linked with tunnels.
“They will put us behind a wall and say that 200,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem need a special permit to visit al-Aqsa Mosque. That is a religious war,” Aziz Oubid, the co-owner of an auto parts store in the Palestinian neighborhood of Issawiya, said.
Palestinians say the plan is radical and racist, and would separate lifelong residents of al-Quds, both Muslims and Christians, from their jobs, schools, hospitals, and places of worship.
“We are more than suspicious. Even talking like this increases the frustration, increases the anger,” Darwish Darwish, the local leader of Issawiya neighborhood, said.
Daniel Seidemann, the founder of Terrestrial Jerusalem, an Israeli non-profit organization, said, “Herzog is telling Palestinians of East Jerusalem that we don’t give a damn about them.”
He said the threat to al-Quds isn’t the Palestinians but rather the Israeli occupation.
The occupied territories are already the scene of heightened tensions from Israel’s imposition in August 2015 of restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam after Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina.
More than 190 Palestinians, including children and women, have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces since the beginning of last October.