The united Jerusalem delusion

Is Jerusalem united? Let me throw a bucket of icy water over those of our politicians who are in denial.

AN AERIAL view of the Temple Mount and east Jerusalem. (photo credit: REUTERS)
AN AERIAL view of the Temple Mount and east Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week pledged to support a Greater Jerusalem bill that would annex places like Ma’aleh Adumim, Givat Ze’ev and villages in the Etzion Bloc and would allow their residents to vote in Jerusalem mayoral elections.
This bill would also create independent municipalities for Israeli-Arabs living within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, but outside the security barrier.
Members of Knesset and mayors acclaim this move.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that “applying Israeli law is the most important thing to make sure that everyone realizes that Jerusalem will remain united.”
Is Jerusalem united? Let me throw a bucket of icy water over those of our politicians who are in denial.
If Jerusalem were truly the undivided capital of Israel, how is it that at least 14 soccer clubs based in Jerusalem play under the auspices of the Palestinian Football Association, headed by Jibril Rajoub of the Palestinian Authority? As these clubs come under the PFA, which is a member of FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, these Jerusalem-based clubs are globally recognized as Palestinian, not Israeli. The Israel Football Association lost control of them decades ago.
Worse still, some of these clubs promote terrorism against Israelis as part of their footballing activities, with the full knowledge and approval of Rajoub. Some of these activities are supervised and funded by the PFA.
On October 11, 2016, the Hilal al-Quds (al-Quds is Arabic for Jerusalem) football players and managers took to their pitch and, in front of their adoring fans, unfurled a huge colorful banner bearing the face of Musbah Abu Sbeih, the Palestinian terrorist who murdered two Israelis and wounded five others in a shooting attack in Jerusalem two days earlier. They hailed him as a hero and martyr.
Hilal al-Quds is the Palestinian soccer champion. This demonstration was the equivalent of having Chelsea, the English football champions, celebrate at Stamford Bridge in front of their fans, displaying a banner with the faces of the terrorists who carried out their murderous rampage on London Bridge. What would be unthinkable in London did not produce a word of protest from the mayor of Jerusalem or our government ministers.
This incident is not alone. The Ansar football club, also based in Jerusalem, held an annual soccer tournament in honor of Abu Jihad, the Palestinian terrorist responsible for the murder of 127 Israelis. Again, not a word of protest from our politicians.
In Jerusalem, this annual event is supervised and sponsored by the Palestinian Football Association from funds budgeted to it by the Palestinian Authority, as is a children’s football tournament named in honor of the Palestinian teenager who went on a knifing rampage through the streets of Jerusalem.
Israeli lives have been lost partly from terrorist-promoting propaganda being pumped out at Palestinian sporting and football events in Jerusalem. Border policewoman Hadar Cohen was murdered while on duty outside the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City by the captain of a Palestinian football club.
There are many such Jerusalem-based terrorist incitement outrages that go unchallenged by politicians who talk about a united and undivided Jerusalem.
As part of a group of NGOs based in Israel, London and New York, we have been campaigning to FIFA to address the issue of the promotion of terrorism in Palestinian football. Sadly, government ministries, the Prime Minister’s Office, and even the Israel Football Association fail to address this troubling phenomenon in Jerusalem.
So let not Hotovely, nor Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, and not even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claim that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel.
They lost control of Jerusalem years ago to our security cost and the loss of too many lives.
The writer is the senior associate for public diplomacy at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.