With all the fuss about the Ramat Shlomo decision by the Israeli government, announced as a (likely deliberate) slap in the face at Vice President Biden, I thought it was worth a little perspective–geographic perspective.
One hears over and over in the news that this is an “expansion” of a “settlement” in Occupied East Jerusalem.*
That’s Ramat Shlomo there at the top (north) of the image (which is from Google Earth), circled. Down in the lower right, you will see the Temple Mount, in the rectangle. (Click for a larger image.)
Clearly, Ramat Shlomo is not in East Jerusalem–at least not in any geographically meaningful sense. In fact, it is north and west of the heart of Jerusalem. It is indeed on the other side of the Green Line (which for some reason Google Earth depicts as a red line). That means it was in the part of the former British Mandate of Palestine that was occupied territory on account of the Jordanian army having seized it during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948.
Whatever one might think of the presence of Jewish communities on the other side of the 1948 armistice lines (they are not “the 1967 borders,” as often stated in the press), no one can realistically expect that established suburbs such as Ramat Shlomo, on the northern edge of Jerusalem, are going to be evacuated as part of any potential two-state solution.
I have taken a personal interest in this controversy, erupting as it did so soon before our departure for Jerusalem. In fact, the apartment where we will be staying while I am a Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University is in French Hill (marked by the yellow pin). As you can see, French Hill is within the formerly Jordanian-occupied portion of the former British territory of Palestine. The Mount Scopus campus of the university itself is in the “island” on the right of the image that was already under Israeli control before 1967.
It just so happens that we arrive in Jerusalem two days before Yom Yerushalayim, which should be interesting.
* All three words capitalized because that is how it is almost always stated in media accounts, as if Occupied East Jerusalem were the place name.