Arab group declares independence in eastern Jerusalem

Monday, June 04, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

A group of eastern Jerusalem Arab residents on Monday declared their half of the Israeli capital an independent municipality and requested recognition as such from the United Nations.

The Jerusalem Association for Civil Institutions said that it has the backing of more than 130 Arab institutions in eastern Jerusalem, and stated that it intends to establish a municipal council as soon as possible.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, group leader Hazem al-Gharabli cited his interpretation of past UN resolutions as justification for the move.

“All UN resolutions since 1948 are based on the fact that Jerusalem is occupied territory, and that the occupation has no right to change its legal status, its geographical character or demographic makeup, and it is the right of its residents to take the necessary steps to organize and maintain their civilian lives,” wrote al-Gharabli.

The group insists that it has absolutely no ties to the Palestinian Authority, which in fact opposes its efforts.

“We believe that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority discriminate against the residents of East Jerusalem,” al-Gharabli said in an interview with Ynet.

He did not indicate whether the municipality will see itself as being under Israeli sovereignty, Palestinian Authority control, or a completely separate entity.

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