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Will Jerusalem ever be shared by Palestinians and Israelis?

Recent wave of violence in Jerusalem further complicates the city’s future status

In the absence of peace negotiations, Palestinians and Israeli leaders are increasing the pressure on each other. Caught in the middle again are the people who live in Israel and the occupied West Bank. On Sunday the Israeli Cabinet, with the support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, approved what’s being called the nationality law, which would declare Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people. But Palestinians account for one-fifth of the population of Israel.

"I am determined to pass this law. I think this is a very important law to promise the future of the people of Israel in the country of Israel and the state of Israel. I have to say that this bill and the proposals that I am promoting, express the fact that Israel is the national state of the Jewish people and only theirs, alongside preserving the rights of every single citizen of the state of Israel," said Netanyahu. Some Palestinian Israelis say they already feel like second-class citizens, and many say the law will take away their rights.

Additionally, there’s Jerusalem. The long-sought would-be capital of two peoples has been riven in tit-for-tat violence in recent weeks. One of the world’s most renowned religious sites, Al-Aqsa mosque and the Temple Mount have become a focus of tensions. Palestinians are angered by what they see as an attempt by right-wing Jews to limit their access to the site. Some have lashed out in violence.

‘I’m really not safe, and before leaving the house, I think twice. I wanted to go out with my daughter, but I left her at home. We are very terrified. We are not calm, and we hope there is going to be an end to this and that it is not just the beginning.’

Sara Levi

Jersusalem resident

Five Israelis, including four rabbis, were killed last week in an attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem. In retaliation, Netanyahu destroyed the homes of the attackers, reviving a policy that had been on hold for years. He is blaming Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, saying he is inciting the violence.

The animosity engulfing the city underscores what many are now calling the myth of a unified Jerusalem. As the situation simmers, the Palestinian Authority has upped the ante, seeking international recognition and support for its efforts to establish a state. Netanyahu appears to be moving further right politically, promising harsh retaliation for any further attacks, and his government continues to build settlements across the West Bank.

We consulted a panel of experts for the Inside Story.

‘The police are the issue. They work with the government to discriminate between Arabs and Jews, to make people leave Jerusalem. But this won’t happen. Our lives and work are here, and whatever they do, they won’t succeed.’

Jamal Khamis

East Jerusalem resident

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