The Al Ghawi family camp on the corner opposite their houseOn the brighter side, Obama is taking a potentially more even-handed approach to the conflict, following the Bush administration’s symbiosis with the Israeli agenda. Similar cracks in unconditional support for Israel have been seen in Europe.

So, what will I be doing? That has changed too. On my first stint, I lived up in Tulkarem, a town in the north west of the Occupied Territory. This time I am based Jerusalem. I still hope that by describing what I see and telling the stories of the people I meet I can again illustrate how the Occupation damages both sides: dispossessing and impoverishing the Palestinians and brutalising the Israelis. And how Jerusalem holds the key to peace.

(N.B.Historical note. As you know, Israel unilaterally annexed the Palestinian eastern part of Jerusalem in 1967 and wants undivided Jerusalem to be its capital. The UN and its member states have never agreed to this and deem all settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to be illegal (Res. 465). Nevertheless, Israel has gradually extended its population into East Jerusalem and now almost as many Israelis live there as Palestinians: 250,000 to 300,000 (300,000 Israelis in West Jerusalem). Many Jewish areas are well consolidated and many residents would not even think of themselves as living in occupied territory. Palestinian Jerusalemites are squeezed into smaller and smaller areas or are eventually forced out over the other side of the Separation Barrier into the West Bank and risk losing their valuable Jerusalem IDs. (In the complicated system of ID cards, Palestinian Jerusalemites are Israeli residents with many social benefits, but not citizens.)

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