Argument: Sharing Jerusalem is necessary to the peace process

Issue Report: Dividing Jerusalem


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, one of the concepts that was rapidly and relatively easily agreed upon was the idea of “shared” sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem—known in international law as a ‘condominium’.

It was surprising to many of the seasoned American observers that these veteran Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were so ready to agree to share the holiest and most emotional part of their conflict—what lies between the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem—while they otherwise endorsed a barrier to separate themselves.

But why were they so willing to agree to share Jerusalem—so precious to both—while on other issues, they spent so much time haggling? And why were they not willing to share much else?

The answer: Experience. The Israelis and Palestinians in the room were mostly veteran negotiators who had watched peace talks fail in 2001 and weren’t willing to let that happen again. They 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.”

Tim McGirk. “Jerusalem Divided”. Time. 21 Nov. 2007 – Israelis and Arabs are destined to live side by side, to share streets, markets, falafel–even blood. But only if they share Jerusalem more equally can it be less hellish for all.

[…]When Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sit down with other Arab leaders and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a forthcoming Middle East summit in Annapolis, Md., the future of Jerusalem, a city holy to three religions, will be a constant shadow over the negotiations. Palestinians have long demanded that the eastern part of the city should be the capital of the state of which they have dreamed for decades. For Jews, who pined 2,000 years for Jerusalem, victory in the Six-Day War of 1967–and with it, control over the whole city–was a moment for the ages. And for 40 years, all who have negotiated for an end to the hostility between Israelis and Palestinians have known that the question of Jerusalem would have to be settled one day.

Steve Earl, “Jerusalem”, as sung by Joan Baez, San Francisco Peace Rally, Feb. 16, 2003 – “I see all the children of Abraham Laying down their swords in Jerusalem.”

French President Nicholas Sarkozy said in 2008, – “There cannot be peace without recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of two states and the guarantee of free access to the holy places for all religions.”[1]