The National Catholic Review
Creative, practical solutions do exist.
Image
Seven years have passed since Israeli and Palestinian officials last sat around a negotiating table to discuss the core political issues that divide them.

According to the Declaration of Principles signed between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1993, five permanent status issues were to be resolved within five years in order to achieve a full peace treaty. Not surprisingly, Jerusalem was one of them.

The deadline to complete these negotiations expired even before the new millennium began. Many consider a viable, mutually respectful, two-state solution to be unattainable and point to Jerusalem as one of the cannot be done reasons.

I beg to differ. Having been an official Israeli negotiator at the so-called Oslo B talks in the mid-1990s and the negotiations held in Taba, Egypt, in January 2001, and a lead drafter of the informal 2003 Geneva Initiative, I am convinced that creative, practical and dignified solutions do exist.

There is insufficient space here to do even minimal justice to the history of Jerusalem before or after 1967. Between 1948 and 1967 the city was divided between Israel and Jordan, and Israel certainly had legitimate complaints regarding the way Jewish sites were treated and the absolute lack of access to them.

When Jews were reunited with their holiest religious sites in the Old City as a consequence of the 1967 war, it was a genuinely emotional and dramatic moment in Jewish and Israeli history. Throughout their exile, Jews had prayed facing Jerusalem; Zion is Jerusalem, and overnight the Zion was back in Zionism.

Yet what followedpart exuberance, part premeditated planning, part making it up as they went alongwas sheer folly on the part of Israel. New municipal boundaries were delineated for Jerusalem, and the city was formally annexed. The annexation included some 30 Palestinian neighborhoods and villages, many of which had never been considered part of al-Quds (the Arabic name for Jerusalem).

Jewish neighborhoods and settlements began to be constructed in occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem. Today they number 13 and are home to approximately 180,000 Israelis. Arab neighborhoods were neglected and largely overlooked when it came to investment and infrastructure. Later, following the September 2000 in-tifada, or uprising, they would be effectively closed off from their Palestinian hinterland, a reality now more visible because of the wall and fence. These roughly 220,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites live in a twilight zone, as permanent residents of Israel but not full citizens.

A Fourfold Issue

To my mind, the point of departure for resolving this issue is fourfold.

First, while recognizing and respecting the religious significance of Jerusalem to Christianity, Islam and Judaism, it is necessary to understand that the conflict is a political one and that the solution will lie in the political realm.

Second, a solution regarding Jerusalem will have to be part of a broader Israeli-Palestinian, two-state agreement, with an Israeli withdrawal based on the 1967 lines. Modifications to the 1967 lines will have to be agreed upon and predicated on a one-to-one land swap. For Jerusalem this means that the Jewish neighborhoods can be part of the future sovereign Israeli territory. The Palestinians would have to be compensated with land elsewhere.

Third, special arrangements would be necessary for the Old City, the center of religious sensitivity. These might include: an international presence and monitoring, regulations on access to holy sites and preservation of cultural heritage, divided or suspended sovereignty and maintenance of the Old City as an open area.

Fourth, in common with the overall framing of an agreement, the Jerusalem provisions will have to guarantee security to the two groups of people and be realistic. The provisions will also need to address the dignity of both Israelis and Palestinians.

We tried to navigate among these various elements in the model Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty known as the Geneva Initiative. Article 6 of that text is devoted to Jerusalem. (It has 13 clauses and can be read on my blog at www.prospectsforpeace.com.)

Two Capitals in Jerusalem

The two states would have their capitals in Palestinian and Israeli Jerusalem respectively. The Haram al Sharif (Temple Mount) would be under Palestinian sovereignty, the Wailing Wall under Israeli sovereignty. The Palestinian East Jerusalemites on their existing territory would be part of the future Palestinian state. There would be dignity in such a division. An effort would also be made for the two parts of the city to work together through a Jerusalem coordination and development committee to address jointly such issues as the environment, transportation, economic development and emergency services.

There can be no Palestinian state without its capital being in Jerusalem. And there can be no regional or global acceptance of Jerusalem as being Israels capital without recognition of this fact.

Daniel Levy is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and The Century Foundation and directs their respective Middle East peace policy initiatives. He formerly worked as an adviser in the office of the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, as a

Comments

PATRICIA HERBST | 8/19/2007 - 8:31am
i've just finished reading all four articles on the 40-year history of Jerusalem in the Aug. 13-20 Issue of America. I cannot thank you enough for the time, talent and mult-faceted views in these articles. The various authors and their diverse experience have helped enormously my understanding of this very complex and chaotic situation. The whole series is well-written, easily understood, and enlightening for those relatively unknowledgeable. Key point: this is not only a religious problem, but a political one as well. Here we have the age old split of worldly vs holy, human vs. divine, secular vs. sacred....or, the Lion needing to lay down with the Lamb. The imminent problems of Jerusalem reflect the eminent problems in the world and point up the importance of God's involvement in leading us to peaceful living together. it is no accident that the land of beginning of the story of God's people is now the contemporary hotspot of human kind's journey toward union with God. I was especially touched by the scene of Pope John Paul II planting the 3 olive trees...that image stays with me as a sign of witness and hope. That being said, as I finished the articles and was reflecting on the overwhelming state of affairs, especially the last article regarding the suggested boundaries for Jerusalem, i wondered if some specific points or aspects of our District of Columbia plan might serve as building blocks for an open Jerusalem, i.e. a World or Global "Capital" City open to all and not "owned" by any. What an honor such a move could be for each of the religions involved, allowing the whole world to embrace the significance and sacredness of this holy city and the move towards global community and inter-faith ecumenism. Looking at "what works" in the Washington plan, and perhaps looking at "what didn't work" in the division of Berlin following World War II might serve as a starting point. When reading about the beliefs of the 3 major religions involved, i am always amazed at the basic beliefs held in common. I also wonder if negotiators who are experienced experts in all three faiths could use their knowledge to form a "platform" on which to build towards unity in diversity. Again, thank you for this most timely issue of America. Patricia Herbst, MA, Spirituality 1290 Sycamore Avenue Bethlehem, PA 610-865-6976
PATRICIA HERBST | 8/19/2007 - 8:31am
i've just finished reading all four articles on the 40-year history of Jerusalem in the Aug. 13-20 Issue of America. I cannot thank you enough for the time, talent and mult-faceted views in these articles. The various authors and their diverse experience have helped enormously my understanding of this very complex and chaotic situation. The whole series is well-written, easily understood, and enlightening for those relatively unknowledgeable. Key point: this is not only a religious problem, but a political one as well. Here we have the age old split of worldly vs holy, human vs. divine, secular vs. sacred....or, the Lion needing to lay down with the Lamb. The imminent problems of Jerusalem reflect the eminent problems in the world and point up the importance of God's involvement in leading us to peaceful living together. it is no accident that the land of beginning of the story of God's people is now the contemporary hotspot of human kind's journey toward union with God. I was especially touched by the scene of Pope John Paul II planting the 3 olive trees...that image stays with me as a sign of witness and hope. That being said, as I finished the articles and was reflecting on the overwhelming state of affairs, especially the last article regarding the suggested boundaries for Jerusalem, i wondered if some specific points or aspects of our District of Columbia plan might serve as building blocks for an open Jerusalem, i.e. a World or Global "Capital" City open to all and not "owned" by any. What an honor such a move could be for each of the religions involved, allowing the whole world to embrace the significance and sacredness of this holy city and the move towards global community and inter-faith ecumenism. Looking at "what works" in the Washington plan, and perhaps looking at "what didn't work" in the division of Berlin following World War II might serve as a starting point. When reading about the beliefs of the 3 major religions involved, i am always amazed at the basic beliefs held in common. I also wonder if negotiators who are experienced experts in all three faiths could use their knowledge to form a "platform" on which to build towards unity in diversity. Again, thank you for this most timely issue of America. Patricia Herbst, MA, Spirituality 1290 Sycamore Avenue Bethlehem, PA 610-865-6976
PATRICIA HERBST | 8/19/2007 - 8:29am
i've just finished reading all four articles on the 40-year history of Jerusalem in the Aug. 13-20 Issue of America. I cannot thank you enough for the time, talent and mult-faceted views in these articles. The various authors and their diverse experience have helped enormously my understanding of this very complex and chaotic situation. The whole series is well-written, easily understood, and enlightening for those relatively unknowledgeable. Key point: this is not only a religious problem, but a political one as well. Here we have the age old split of worldly vs holy, human vs. divine, secular vs. sacred....or, the Lion needing to lay down with the Lamb. The imminent problems of Jerusalem reflect the eminent problems in the world and point up the importance of God's involvement in leading us to peaceful living together. it is no accident that the land of beginning of the story of God's people is now the contemporary hotspot of human kind's journey toward union with God. I was especially touched by the scene of Pope John Paul II planting the 3 olive trees...that image stays with me as a sign of witness and hope. That being said, as I finished the articles and was reflecting on the overwhelming state of affairs, especially the last article regarding the suggested boundaries for Jerusalem, i wondered if some specific points or aspects of our District of Columbia plan might serve as building blocks for an open Jerusalem, i.e. a World or Global "Capital" City open to all and not "owned" by any. What an honor such a move could be for each of the religions involved, allowing the whole world to embrace the significance and sacredness of this holy city and the move towards global community and inter-faith ecumenism. Looking at "what works" in the Washington plan, and perhaps looking at "what didn't work" in the division of Berlin following World War II might serve as a starting point. When reading about the beliefs of the 3 major religions involved, i am always amazed at the basic beliefs held in common. I also wonder if negotiators who are experienced experts in all three faiths could use their knowledge to form a "platform" on which to build towards unity in diversity. Again, thank you for this most timely issue of America. Patricia Herbst, MA, Spirituality 1290 Sycamore Avenue Bethlehem, PA 610-865-6976

Recently in Faith in Focus