The battle for Jerusalem has hit cyberspace. Israel’s mission to the United Nations this month created its own Web site to counter what Israeli officials maintain is a stepped-up offensive by the Palestinian Authority to argue its case on the Internet.
On the new Israeli UN Web site, a section titled “Palestinian Web Watch” contends the Palestinians are using their Web pages to violate the Wye agreement that calls for resolving outstanding issues through negotiations.
“The Web has become the latest tool in a Palestinian campaign that circumvents and undermines the peace process by using outside means — whether the media or hostile UN maneuvers — to force the final outcome,” says the Israeli site.
It then cites a series of examples in which the Palestinian site calls the Israeli government a “danger to the world” and advances the Palestinian quest for an independent state.
“We have the unshaken, deep conviction that our people … will be able to establish their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital,” says the Palestinian page. “…The international community is called upon to intervene effectively to rescue the peace process in the face of current Israeli extremism and politics of threat, intimidation and power, rather than succumbing to Israeli demands, pressures, and unilateral policies and measures.”
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Dore Gold, said the Palestinians’ Web page has become more sophisticated.
“They got on Yahoo and Excite,” he pointed out, referring to two Internet search engines. “They are using tricks of the trade to get listed near the top. There’s a big difference if a Web site is in the top 10 or number 375. So we have responded. Our Foreign Ministry has had Web sites for a long time, but we have designed one [for the UN Mission] that includes up-to-date and lean material that people need to know.”
One issue that has surfaced at the UN and on the Web site is a Palestinian demand for the implementation of UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which was adopted in 1947.
“The Palestinians are trying to resurrect it as a way to advance territorial demands beyond the 1967 cease-fire lines and as a mechanism whereby they can also open the issue of Jerusalem,” said Gold. “They are trying to advance the issue of 181 on their Web site, and they have a map on there of Palestine based on 181.
“Israel rejects a pullback to the 1967 borders, yet alone 1947,” he said. “That’s a non-starter, and we have exposed it in our Palestinian Web Watch section.”
But the deputy permanent observer of the PLO to the UN, Marwan Jilani, questioned why Israel would reject that resolution when it was the “legal basis for both an independent Palestinian state and for the establishment of the State of Israel.”
“I was shocked to learn that Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon said it was null and void. That’s ridiculous because to say it is null and void negates the basis for the State of Israel,” Jilani said.
The Palestinians are not the only ones resurrecting 181. Last week in a letter to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Germany’s ambassador to Israel, Theodor Wallau, said that the European Union considers Jerusalem a separate entity from Israel under the terms of 181. Wallau currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.
Wallau’s letter came in response to a letter from Israel’s Foreign Ministry requesting that foreign diplomats refrain from meeting with Palestinian Authority officials in Jerusalem. In recent years, Israel has repeatedly asked that they not call on Palestinian representatives at Orient House, the Palestinians’ de facto headquarters in East Jerusalem.
Netanyahu met Sunday with Wallau to express Israel’s displeasure with the EU position and said the “clock would not be turned back,” that Israel would never again be partitioned. That same day, Israel’s cabinet rejected what it said was a challenge by the EU to Israel’s control of its capital city.
Jilani questioned why Israeli officials were so incensed by the EU position, pointing out that this has long been the “position of the international community.”
The issue of 181 was hammered out years ago in the UN, according to Israel’s former ambassador, Abba Eban.
“It was never at any time ever accepted by any Israeli government, and I myself made that very clear in the UN in 1949,” Eban said. “The idea that Jerusalem could still be internationalized has a hint of absurdity that goes beyond anything that could be more absurd.
“Much water has flowed under the Jordan since Resolution 181 was adopted."