Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer 1967: Jerusalem uniting?

In previous posts, I've looked at Israeli government discussions in June and July 1967 about how to join the two separate halves of Jerusalem. In future posts, I'll return to the topic since there's much to be said about it. Today, however, we'll jump forward in time, to the other end of that summer, and some initial attempts to sum up the first events.

On September 5 1967, the Economic Department of Israel's Foreign Ministry sent out a circular to the various embassies (here, in Hebrew) covering two reports recently written in English for representative of the UN about the situation in Jerusalem. The package's cover letter underlined, for the benifit of the ambassadors, that Israel wasn't claiming that no damage had been caused in East Jerusalem during or since the war. Rather, it maintained that while there had been dislocation and interruptions to normal life, things were now returning to normal, and that for the traders of East Jerusalem the advantages of integrating into the large Israeli market were already beginning to outweigh the costs.

The double report (in English) focuses on two fields of activity. The first gives an overview of commercial activity in Jerusalem: All the shops in East Jerusalem are open, and many are attracting Israeli patrons. (Store owners in West Jerusalem are grumbling about their loss of business.) Stocks are being renewed through Israel. Fruit and vegetables come in, as previously, from the West Bank. The Israeli authorites are assisting East Jerusalem traders in navigating their way through Israeli bureacracy. (Ha! Fat chance. --Ed.) Taxes in East Jerusalem, income and municipal, will be equal to taxes in West Jerusalem. In this context, the report claims that though the new East Jerusalem taxes will be higher than under Jordanian rule, the services will also be better. Water supply, for example: under Jordanian rule, water was piped into Jerusalem once or twice a week; under Israeli rule, there's water all the time.

The second report focuses on tourism. Its thesis is that tourism to East Jerusalem under Jordanian rule was cumbersome (it required diverse licenses), was generally not allowed to include travel to sites in Israel, and Jews were not allowed in at all; since the unification under Israeli rule, all these limitations have been removed. In addition, the Israeli authorities are encouraging East Jerusalem hoteliers to make use of Israeli loans and support. The report includes an (English language) Jordanian document stipulating who may or may not enter Jerusalem and under what conditions. It also includes a letter from an East Jerusalem hotelier listing those of his colleagues who wish to join the Israel Hotel Association.

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