In the Palestinian-Israeli Declaration of Principles signed in 1993, it was agreed that the issue of Jerusalem would be negotiated in the final status negotiations, originally scheduled to begin in May of 1996 but now, according to the recent Wye agreement, slated to start as of last November. With the negotiations imminent, it is perhaps useful to scrutinize just what is meant by Jerusalem. In more than one sense, the Jerusalem referred to in the Declaration of Principles is ambiguous. Israel, after the annexation of the Eastern part of the city following the 1967 War, has continually proclaimed that Jerusalem, both east and west, now constitutes a united city. But when one examines the multitude of studies, documents, and meetings of reconciliation concerning the status and future of Jerusalem, it becomes apparent that the terms established for negotiation in recent years have only been centered on the parts of Jerusalem occupied in 1967. Any suggestion of including territory taken in the 1948 War in negotiations is seen as questioning Israeli sovereignty. So what exactly does "Jerusalem" refer to? Numerous assumptions about the history of the city have effectively been employed to eliminate 1948 Jerusalem, and indeed much of 1967 Jerusalem, from possible negotiation. Likewise, the discussion of the refugees from 1948 Jerusalem has been shelved pending final status negotiation along with consideration of the other refugees from 1948 Palestine. In recent years, however, new strategies have been engaged to raise the profile of these refugees as an issue for the Jerusalem negotiations and in so doing to question the delineated boundaries of what constitutes a negotiable Jerusalem.
In this paper I will argue that the elimination of possible Jerusalems from the status of "negotiable" has resulted from the predominance of certain narratives concerning both the history of the city and the refugees. Specific narrative strategies based on a highly selective use of historical evidence have gone into the creation of these narrowed discourses, some of which I will explore here: in particular, the narratives of the expansion outside the walls of the city in the 19th and early 20th centuries and within these narratives, the subsuming and sublimation of the lives and roles of the Arab, Greek, and Armenian Jerusalemites into what comes to be seen as an essentially Jewish Jerusalem. In contesting this pre-scripted history of Jerusalem and its excision of the Arab inhabitants, we must turn to sources neglected by most historiography to understand the social history of the different communities, the socio-economic make-up of the neighborhoods in the New City, and the life and work patterns of its numerous residents. In the conclusion I will discuss some of the breaks in these exclusionary narratives and the places in which the issue of the 1948 Jerusalem refugees has emerged in the discourse surrounding the Jerusalem final status negotiations.
First, I would like to mention a few points of historical background pertinent to my discussion of Jerusalem. Despite its significance to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Jerusalem in the early nineteenth century was still a provincial town in terms of size and socioeconomic importance. The developed areas of the city were located within the city walls, although there were numerous religious buildings, mills, and houses located outside the walls. The expansion of the city began in the second half of the 19th century, due to a number of factors, including Ottoman reforms, the growing Western presence in the Holy Land, and Jewish immigration to the city. Because of the pressures of overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions in the Old City, people began to build outside the walls, and this area came to be known as the New City. The various types of expansion and growth in Jerusalem completely transformed the city. By 1947, the New City contained approximately 70 percent of the population of Jerusalem—some 128,500 out of a total of 164,500—and was spread out primarily to the north, west, and southwest.
During the British Mandate, Jerusalem had served as the capital of the Administration, giving it a new political status as well as facilitating its continued religious importance, particularly for Western Christians. Jerusalem was also an important site for receiving Jewish immigration, and the Jewish population grew rapidly. In addition, Palestine in general during the British Mandate period was characterized by Arab urbanization: many moved from the countryside to take advantage of the economic opportunities available in the cities, and also, in the case of Jerusalem, to attend the multitude of schools and training programs that proliferated in the city. Jerusalem was also a target of internal Christian migration, with the various churches offering free or low-rent places of residence and jobs.
By the end of the British Mandate in 1948, the majority of Jews and Christians lived in the New City while a Muslim majority remained in the Old City. In terms of land ownership, Jews owned less than a quarter of the total land inside the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem and 26 percent of the land of the New City. During the war in 1948, the city was divided, with the Israelis acquiring jurisdiction over what became known as West Jerusalem (encompassing the majority of the New City), and the Jordanians over the East (the Northeastern part of the New City and the Old City). The refugees created in the fighting are estimated to be somewhere around 30,000, mostly from the approximately 13 Arab neighborhoods of the New City. Around 2,000 Jews were also evicted from the Old City.
The current academic and popular scholarship on Jerusalem in the 19th and 20th centuries does not provide an adequate historical account of those Jerusalemites who were to become refugees in 1948. It deals almost exclusively with the Jewish sector of the city or the Ottoman and British administrations. Absent is any substantial discussion of the presence of the Arab and other communities, either as residents or as active members and creators of the economic, social, and cultural life of the city. More often than not they are referred to as "the non-Jewish communities." This label lumps together Palestinian Arabs (both Christian and Muslim), Greek Jerusalemites, and Armenian Jerusalemites, among others; it overlooks the economic bases of the different communities, their class differences, and their varying access to resources; and it obscures individual activities not necessarily stemming from communal affiliation. Finally, the label has obviously exclusionary implications, characteristic of Israeli state discourse and practices, in defining people as either "Jews" or "non-Jews."
While this elision of Palestinians from the historical record is hardly unique, here it is accomplished in a number of distinctive ways. First, by defining the specific terms in which to discuss the growth of Jerusalem, it becomes possible to exclude those who do not fit into these terms. For example, Mishkenot Sha