Divided Jerusalem: An Arab haven dissected

BEIT SAFAFA, Arabic for “summertime home”, was the only one of some 40 Arab villages in the district of West Jerusalem to survive the war of 1948 that created Israel; the others were more or less emptied of their inhabitants, who mostly fled the killing and found their return barred by the victorious Israelis. As a result, the people of Beit Safafa have generally been loyal to the state of Israel. Many of its townsfolk welcomed the 1967 war, when Israel captured what was left of Palestine, because it reunited the town which for 20 years had been divided by the armistice line running down the middle of it. When other Palestinians rose up in protest against Israel’s occupation of the entire city, Beit Safafa remained a picture of harmony.No longer. To speed up their travel from dwellings in the West Bank south of Jerusalem, Israel’s settlers have persuaded the government to plough a six-lane motorway (in some places it has ten lanes) through the Arab-populated town. Once the road is complete, the settlers will be able to drive from the West Bank to central Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial capital on the coast, without having to go through a traffic…

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