JERUSALEM – WHAT'S THE PROBLEM ?
Jerusalem has been the de facto capital, albeit partitioned, of Israel since its birth after the Second World War. The Arab countries never accepted the fact that Jews should settle in Palestine. They have also managed to get many countries of the world to sympathise with them mainly because of the refugee problem it created but also because of a general anti Antisemitism. They want Palestine back and for some reason, mainly oil and economics, many countries seem to agree with them. However, Jerusalem was Jewish long before it was Arab. Over the millennia it has been a city fought over, captured, destroyed, and rebuilt many times but it's origins are Jewish and it has always housed many Jewish institutions and families.
Ever since the establishment of the state of Israel the Arabs have fought against it. They first laid siege to it and occupied it way back in the seventh century. Then the Turks fought the Arabs and occupied the city during the sixteenth century. They were thrown out at the end of the First World War. The whole area was peopled by Arabs and Jews and some Christians all of whom, as a rule, lived together in uneasy peace. However, the Jews were always discriminated against, not just by the Arabs but actually by most nations in Europe too as the Second World War was to prove. Hence, Jewry, in general, felt, with reason, that they needed a homeland of their own once again before they could feel safe. Palestine, the promised land of Canaan in the Old Testament, was the obvious place as that is where they had originally settled and had a continued presence and had began to resettle through the nineteenth century.
In 1948 they fought a war against the Arabs and established a state that was quickly recognised by the major powers of the world and the United Nation Organisation. The Arabs did not and vowed to sling them out. The 1956 conflict was as a direct result of Egyptian president Nasser closing the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping. This was a provocation which Nasser was sure he could win. He was wrong, he lost and lost the Sinai Peninsula too. The Israelis withdrew from the Peninsula after getting an agreement that the Tiran straits would remain open to their shipping.
In 1967 Nasser broke his promise and again closed the Straits to Israeli shipping. He moved his forces up to the Israeli boarder. At the time Egypt, Syria and Jordan were in an accord and called themselves the United Arab Republic. Their aim was to crush Israel and return the territory to the Arabs. At the time there were 5 countries ranged against Israel, they were Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. They were supported by 7 other countries and the PLO. On paper Israel did not stand a chance. She had a total of 240,000soldiers that included reservists of which they actually deployed 100,000. The Arabs had 547,000 troops and they deployed 240,000. Israel had 300 combat aircraft and 800 tanks. The joint Arab forces had 957 aircraft, and 2,504 tanks. Not a fair fight and the Arabs were convinced they would win and that would be the end of the state of Israel. However, we all know the result. The Arabs were soundly thrashed and Israel reoccupied the Sinai Peninsula, the whole of the West Bank including Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
Up to this time Jerusalem had been partitioned with Jordan nominally in charge of east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Jerusalem had actually been proclaimed the capital of Israel by the Knesset in 1949. After the war Israel held the whole of Jerusalem and since then the city has been the unified capital. Needless to say the Arabs refused to concede defeat and have wanted all their territory back. Palestinians, Jordanians and Syrians who fled the war ended up in refugee camps and whilst many have escaped to other countries and settled down the bulk are still in these camps. They are kept there by the Arabs nations, who have the ability, the money and the land to resettle them if they wanted to. However, to gain sympathy from the rest of the world against the Israelis these poor people are kept in these camps in terrible conditions and abject poverty. And this is how it continues to work. Although Israel has given the Sinai back to Egypt and agreed that Palestinians should have a state in the West Bank and Gaza strip, with conditions which are mainly to do with her safety, the Arabs steadfastly refuse to come to an agreement.
At the end of the day, Jerusalem is Israel's capital and the Israelis are not going to agree to any form of partition in the future. The Arabs are all up in arms about America recognising this fact and there will, no doubt, be some blood spilt over the decision but the fact will remain. The Arabs, in an effort to gain support also state that Christians should be worried about the situation, but under Israeli stewardship there are no problems for Christians living or visiting Jerusalem. Under Arab stewardship there are always problems for any non Moslems. Just ask an Egyptian Christian of whom there are about 7 million, how they are treated and discriminated against in Egypt. The same can be said for all the Christians and Jews throughout the Middle East. None of them can live in total peace or feel completely secure under Moslem Arab governments and that includes Palestinian Christians.