Issue Report: Dividing Jerusalem

Jerusalem is a city in the Middle East that is currently under the control of Israel. In contemporary times, the status of Jerusalem begins in 1947. After World War I, the League of Nations approved the British Mandate of Palestine with the intent of creating a “national home for the Jewish people.” In 1947, the United Nations approved the partition of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. Jerusalem was to remain an “international city” until both an Israeli and Palestinian state were established. On May 14, 1948 the state of Israel declared independence. The Palestinians and other Arab states, objecting to the existence of Israel, launched a military offensive against Israel in 1948. Israel’s subsequent victory caused the idea of a Palestinian state to recede. Following the war of 1967, Israel assumed de facto control over all of Jerusalem, declaring its “unification”. Jerusalem’s status under international law, however, has remained undetermined. Since 1967, Palestinians have continued to fight to establish an independent Palestinian state out of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and (in most forms) with Jerusalem as a shared capital with the Israelis (under most Palestinian proposals). Because Palestinians generally require that Jerusalem be included in any Peace Agreement, the Peace Process has been stuck on the question of whether or not to “divide” or “share” Jerusalem as the capital of both an Israel and Palestinian state. Palestinians have generally rejected the idea of establishing a Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital. The debate regarding whether to “share” Jerusalem, therefore, remains central the Middle East Peace process. The debate revolves around the following questions. Will “sharing” Jerusalem help the Middle East Peace Process and long-term stability? Or, will it merely transfer the battle-lines of the current conflict into Jerusalem, where it could possibly be more damaging? Do Palestinians and Israelis have equally valid claims to Jerusalem, or does one have a better claim? What does international law say? How do we read the UN’s initial efforts to make Jerusalem into an “international protectorate”? Have these efforts been invalidated by subsequent events, namely the many wars that have been fought since? Does the UN’s intention to make Jerusalem into an “international” city still apply? What would sharing Jerusalem do to Israeli and Palestinian societies? Would sharing Jerusalem be good for the economies of Israel and a Palestinian state?

Peace process: Is dividing Jerusalem important to the peace process?

Sharing Jerusalem is necessary to the peace process

Hady Amr, Director, Brookings Doha Center. "Shared Sovereignty, Jerusalem and the War of Ideas". Brookings Institute. 21 July 2007

– “At a recent closed-door gathering of former Israeli and Palestinian negotiators hosted at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution…had come to realize just how painful the issue of Jerusalem was for both sides, that neither side could feel whole without Jerusalem, and that separation arrangements were unworkable when emotions flared over a few feet of Jerusalem stone.

Although it took a decade, the Israelis realized that they could not be secure from Palestinian rancor if they deprived Muslim and Christian Palestinians of sovereignty over the Muslim Noble Sanctuary and the holy Christian churches. The Palestinian negotiators also acknowledged the corollary Israeli need for sovereignty over not only the Wailing Wall, but also the Jewish Temple Mount.”

Thomas Friedman. "Uniting Jerusalem". New York Times. 11 Aug. 2000

“Sharing Jerusalem, and the Haram-Temple Mount, is the only sustainable solution. If the Israeli center can’t embrace that — or if the Palestinians, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia can’t embrace that — then no final peace is possible. It’s time for everyone to show his real cards. The good news: If they can share Jerusalem, they can share the Middle East. Because the only way they can share Jerusalem is by acknowledging and respecting each other’s deepest claims.”

Palestinians in East Jerusalem will not tolerate Israeli governance

Robert Sage. "Should Jerusalem be split between the Israelis and Palestinians?" Helium Election 2008

– “Palestinians would not consider leaving all of Jerusalem under the control of Israel to be a permanent solution. Simply put, continued Israeli security forces having control of Muslim areas would be a non-starter. They cannot be trusted by Muslims. They have not been fair or protective of Palestinians. Israeli officials have repeatedly been highly abusive of Palestinians. Also, Israeli security forces have been accepting of abusive Israeli civilian treatment of Palestinians.”

Unconventional division of Jerusalem can break cycle of violence

Hady Amr, Director, Brookings Doha Center. "Shared Sovereignty, Jerusalem and the War of Ideas". Brookings Institute. 21 July 2007

– “Sometimes and in some places, conflict is so intractable that all but the most unlikely solutions are fated to fail. In those times and places, we need to try methods that have not been considered in the hopes that unconventional solutions will offer opportunities not available through line-drawing. This is such a time; Jerusalem is such a place; shared sovereignty is such a solution. And the benefits can be global.”

Dividing Jerusalem would shift the battle lines to the city

Nadav Shragai. "Envisioning a divided Jerusalem". Haaretz

– “Those who give the Palestinians control over the Temple Mount, the “outlying neighborhood” next to the Western Wall, will no longer be able to pray in peace at the Wall, or hold Memorial Day ceremonies or induction ceremonies for paratroopers there; nor will they be able to ensure the safety of the president or prime minister should either wish to participate in such ceremonies. Imagine the street battles in the alleys of Sajiyeh and Beit Hanun, in the Gaza Strip, transferred to the ancient streets of Jerusalem, which today teem with Jews. Think about how bar-mitzvah ceremonies or wedding pictures could be held at the Western Wall, or even plain old visits to place a note in the cracks, if Palestinians “controlled” the area a few hundred meters away.”

Palestinians in East Jerusalem prefer Israeli over PA rule

Jerusalem is too interwoven to be neatly divided

Tim McGirk. "Jerusalem Divided". Time. 21 Nov. 2007

– “In 2000 President Bill Clinton, as part of a set of “parameters” he laid out for ending the conflict, proposed a legal split of the city, with Israel handing the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem over to Palestinian rule. Such a formula presupposes that Jerusalem is capable of a neat division. But it is not. Somehow, any separation of the city into component parts has to recognize that there are myriad economic and cultural links among political adversaries. Moreover, the monuments and shrines of the Old City attract visitors from all over the world: Muslims who want to worship at al-Aqsa Mosque; Jews seeking to pray at the Western Wall; Christians keen to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or follow the Stations of the Cross. Try as one might, it is not possible to count out the lanes of the Old City so that each of them is controlled by only one faith, one ethnicity. (Clinton proposed “shared functional sovereignty” for the Old City.) Dividing Jerusalem, says Daniel Seidemann, a lawyer and expert on Jerusalem affairs, is “a political impossibility and a historical inevitability. It will take microsurgery, and I’m afraid the politicians will go at it with a hatchet.”

Dividing Jerusalem will fail, like all divided cities in history

Roni Aloni-Sadovnik. "Dividing Jerusalem won't bring peace". Y Net News. 29 May 2006

– “In the city of Nicosia, for example, they decided to build a wall to separate Turkish and Greek Cypriots, but this failed to solve the economic or political aspects of the conflict between the two peoples. And in Berlin, the wall brought no positive results, and was eventually toppled by residents themselves.

Dividing Jerusalem will destroy the city

Roni Aloni-Sadovnik. "Dividing Jerusalem won't bring peace". Y Net News. 29 May 2006

– “Yet there is a truth that has yet to be spoken: Any division of Jerusalem will bring about the city’s destruction. Maybe, after 3,000 years of blood letting and destruction, the time has come to understand that the road to peace does not run through Jerusalem.”

Claims: Do Israel and Palestine have equally valid claims to Jerusalem?

Jerusalem can be shared; it need not be "divided"

It has been a Palestinian position that Jerusalem can “remain the capital of Israel” and can “remain undivided”. This is a as long as that does not preclude the Palestinians from also having their capital in a “shared” city.[1]

Sharing Jerusalem is fairest trade-off between competing interests

Dennis Ross. "Don't Play With Maps". New York Times. January 9, 2007

– “The basic trade-offs require meeting Israeli needs on security and refugees on the one hand and Palestinian needs on territory and a capital in Arab East Jerusalem on the other.”

Israel misgoverns East Jerusalem; Palestinians should self-govern

Tim McGirk. "Jerusalem Divided". Time. 21 Nov. 2007

– “In a Jerusalem telephone book, for example, maps of Arab neighborhoods are blank, like unexplored parts of the Amazon in the 19th century. That’s because no Arab sits on the municipal committee that chooses street names. On the rare occasion when the committee bothers with East Jerusalem, it is to irritate the Arabs by naming a few streets after Israeli war heroes. Mail is seldom delivered there, and having no street names adds to the Arabs’ perception that in Israeli society they are either invisible, nonexistent or branded terrorists.”

Jerusalem was founded by King David so belongs to Israel

King David founded Jerusalem in 1010 B.C.E, according to the Hebrew Bible. He was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel. Because Jerusalem was founded by an Israeli, it belongs to Israel.

Neither party has a better claim to Jerusalem; status quo is best.

Neither party to the conflict has a superior historical claim to Jerusalem. A common situation in international disputes, the ideal response should be to settle with the status quo, as this is the most stable move.

With three religious claims to Jerusalem, how would it be divided?

Israel has fought to unify Jerusalem; why now divide it?

Chris Mitchell. "Tears for a Divided Jerusalem?". CBN News Jerusalem Bureau. 4 Jan. 2008

– “Despite any public warnings, the private negotiations continue for the November summit…In the midst of these plans, some see an irony of history…This year, Israel celebrated the 40th anniversary of the re-unification of Jerusalem…The battle 40 years ago during the 1967 Six Day War reunited a divided city between Jordan and Israel. And for the first time in more than 2,000 years, Israel controlled the city of Jerusalem…Some fear that what Israel won on the battlefield could be lost at the negotiating table.”

Israel governs Palestinians in Jerusalem well and democratically

Israel governs East Jerusalem as well as it can. It should be noted that it offers the opportunity for Palestinians to become representatives of their local communities, but that Palestinians reject this opportunity out of fear of being seen as sympathizing with the enemy. They shirk the opportunity to govern themselves and inflame tensions with Israel. They are, therefore, largely responsible for the poor state of East Jerusalem. Israel should not be held solely responsible.

The idea that Jerusalem could be shared as opposed to divided or solely Israeli is not practical.

If all Jerusalem becomes the capital of both Israel and Palestine, this would create all sorts of potential problems. For example, if a baby is born in a shared Jerusalem, will its civic nationality be Israeli or Palestinian? And if an act is committed in Jerusalem which one nation’s government recognises as a crime but the other doesn’t, who decides what should be done? Different countries sharing a disputed territory but not dividing it is very illogical, even more so if that territory is the capital of both. Imagine what would have happened if the UK, France,and the USA decided to share Berlin with the USSR instead of dividing it!

International law: Should Jerusalem be divided, according to international law?

Jerusalem was intended by the UN to be a joint capital

The League of Nations and United Nations initially established Jerusalem as an “international” city. The intention was to hold the city as an international “trust” until the Palestinians could stand on their own feet, establish a state, and establish a joint capital with Israel in Jerusalem.

Countries do not recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capital.

Almost all countries keep their diplomatic missions in Tel-Aviv today and do not consider Jerusalem the official capital of Israel.[2]

1947 Arab invasion invalidated "international" status of Jerusalem

"Jerusalem: Unified City, Divided City, or International City?". 4 Aug. 2000

– “the Arab non-acceptance of Resolution 181 and invasion of Israel immediately upon its declaration of statehood essentially reneged the resolution and the creation of an Arab state at the time.”

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