On top of a hill in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, a tall cedar tree stands out, the only one of its kind in the city.
The tree is adjacent to an old house owned by a Jerusalemite family that became the residence of an Irish diplomat, but it was the headquarters of the Lebanese consulate until 1967, the year in which Israel occupied the rest of the city.
This was not the only Arab consulate in the city until its occupation, as there are still buildings that before 1967 were the headquarters of the Egyptian, Iraqi, Saudi and Syrian consulates.
However, after that year, the Arab consulates disappeared, and the headquarters of other consulates remained, including Turkish, French, British, Spanish, Belgian, Italian, Swedish, and Greek.
The majority of the consulates that existed, and those that still exist, are located exclusively in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, which some call the “Consulates Neighborhood.”
Some consulates are located in buildings owned by wealthy Jerusalemite families, and others are in buildings owned by states for decades.
Many of the consulates that were in Jerusalem until 1967 were located until 1948 (the establishment of Israel on occupied Palestinian lands) in the Talbieh neighborhood, which has since become part of West Jerusalem.
Currently, the consulates area in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood is considered one of the most expensive areas in East Jerusalem in terms of house prices or monthly rents.
Many foreign diplomats prefer to rent homes in the area where the Ambassador Hotel, the Eye Hospital, and the French Hospital are also located.
The area of institutions.
The Palestinian expert on Jerusalem affairs, Khalil Al-Tafakji, told Anadolu Agency, “This area was and still is the public transportation route towards the north, that is, (the city of) Ramallah (in the center of the occupied West Bank) and other cities, and therefore it was desired by diplomats.”
He added: "It is also an area owned by wealthy Palestinian families who built good buildings with a high cultural standard, and at the same time it was a newly established area."
“Also, at that time, there were many consulates, including Turkish, French, and Spanish, as well as governmental and cultural institutions, and therefore it was considered an area for governmental, private, and diplomatic institutions, and several hotels were established there,” according to Al-Tufakji.
Currently, there are no signs on the buildings indicating the Arab consulates that were in the neighborhood, but the elderly people in the area still remember them well.
A Palestinian man and woman encountered by the Anatolia crew, during the preparation of the report, were able to point out the location of the consulates that were located in the vicinity of their current homes, but they refused to speak to the media.
Lebanese cedar tree
The building that used to be the Lebanese consulate still maintains its beauty, but the flag currently raised on it is the Irish flag, and next to the building, there is a huge cedar tree.
Pointing to the building, Al-Tafakji said: “The Lebanese consulate was here, and as you can see, part of this heritage is the Lebanese cedar tree.”
He continued: "The Lebanese Consulate remained in this building until 1967 when it was closed, but the cedar tree is still there to bear witness to that history."
One of the beautiful buildings nearby was the headquarters of the Egyptian Consulate until 1967, after it moved after the 1948 war from the Talbieh neighborhood in West Jerusalem.
Al-Tafakji said: “The Egyptian Consulate was located here in Sheikh Jarrah until 1967, and after that date it was closed and then turned into the headquarters of the French Consulate, which it now uses as a cultural and economic attaché.”
Close to it was the Syrian Consulate General in Jerusalem. According to Al-Tufakji, “The Syrian consulate was closed in 1967.”
It is clear that the building has been used again as a residence for a Palestinian family.
The second capital of Jordan,
and not far away, there was the Iraqi consulate, which was located in a house for a Jerusalemite family, where it still resides to this day.
While standing in front of the building, Al-Tafakji said: “Here was the Iraqi consulate before 1967, and there were also the Saudi, Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese and other consulates not far away from it.”
He pointed out that East Jerusalem was the second capital of Jordan after the capital, Amman, and therefore the diplomatic headquarters were called a consulate, not an embassy.
An isolated settlement area.
Al-Tafakji said, “The consulates were all rented from Jerusalemite families, including Al-Husseini, Al-Nashashibi, Barakat, and others.”
He added, "The area was and still is calm. It serves as the diplomatic center and is the consuls' area."
The Sheikh Jarrah area, according to the Palestinians, is one of the areas most targeted by Israeli settlement in occupied East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians cling to as the capital of their hoped-for state, based on international legitimacy resolutions, which do not recognize Israel’s occupation of the city in 1967 nor its annexation in 1981. The Israeli authorities threaten to
evacuate Dozens of Palestinian homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood for the benefit of Israeli settlement associations.
Years ago, the authorities established a settlement outpost in the neighborhood for settlers on the ruins of the Shepherd Hotel, which was demolished.
“What is happening in Sheikh Jarrah now is transforming this area from a diplomatic area into an isolated area and changing its features, whether historical or the general landscape,” Al-Tafakji concluded
Source: Maan News Agency