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Two alternative solutions for Jerusalem

The sovereignty would be divided in such a way that the Temple Mount would be under full Palestinian sovereignty and the prayer area of the Western Wall would be under Israeli sovereignty.

06 Maret 2016 02:05
Menachem Klein, profesor ilmu politik di Universitas Bar Ilan, Tel Aviv, Israel. (Faisal Assegaf/Albalad.co)
Menachem Klein

Professor in Political Science at Bar Ilan University, Tel Aviv

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Jerusalem is bleeding. As the Israeli – Palestinian national struggle escalates, more innocent Jews, Christian and Muslims are killed in Jerusalem's streets. Sometimes also tourists are among the victims. Peace looks impossible to achieve.

I live in Jerusalem, and see around me scared people. Their body language is nervous. But wars die or slow down at a certain point, and the sides, with the help of international mediators, look for a peace settlement.

Any peace settlement in Jerusalem cannot ignore that the city is nationally dived. Indeed Israel claims that it is united under its sovereignty, but the Israeli unilateral annexation is rejected by the international community in general and the Palestinians in particular.

Two separate and unequal communities live in the city: dominant Israeli Jews which constitute about 60 percent of the population, and occupied Palestinians. Most of the latter are not Israeli citizens but permanent residents. They are systematically discriminated by the Israeli authorities based on their national identity.

Even without the Intifada Israel neither desired to propose, nor  was capable of proposing, to East Jerusalem corrective preference which could create full equality under Israeli soverignty. Neither could Israel agree to the transformation of Jerusalem into an open, equal and bi-national city which belongs exclusively to neither side.

This would run counter not only to Israeli policy since 1948 but also to the self-determination of the state of Israel and the Zionist movement as Jewish entities. Thus the question is not whether Jerusalem will be divided but how it will be divided.

A rigid partition imposed through an impenetrable rigid wall as in Berlin until 1991, in Jerusalem from 1949 to 1967 or in Nicosia since 1974 would make the two parts of Jerusalem into borderline cities and bring about the deterioration of both of them.

However, physical partition which creates not only a border but a multifaceted border regime facilitating frequent but controlled border crossing would be to the benefit of both parties. Consequently the reality demands drawing a clear border between West and East Jerusalem according to the principle laid down by President Clinton: what is Arab is Palestinian, what is Jewish is Israeli. The delineation of the border will create a situation in which on both side the demographical reality will correspond with each party’s authority, both effective and symbolical.

The border will be recognized both internationally and politically. The metropolis of East Jerusalem will be wholly open to its own natural hinterland. Roads will link the Arab neighborhoods to each other just as other roads will join the Jewish neighborhoods, while every citizen of Israel or Palestine will move freely within his/her sovereign state.

There will be cooperation and coordination between the two municipalities. No settlers will remain living in Palestinian neighborhoods and special arrangements will be made for Holy Places of one party which will be under the sovereignty of another. These will assure freedom of worship and freedom of access to believers and visitors, as well as the maintenance of these sites.

There is a possibility of maintaining the Old City as an open city without rigid fences separating the Jewish Quarter under Jewish sovereignty from the rest of the Quarters, which will be under Palestinian sovereignty. The Temple Mount, as it is known to the Jews, or al-Haram al-Sharif as it is known in Islam, and what the Jews call the Western Wall – constitute one unit in Judaism and in Islam. The controversy over sovereignty must take this into account.

There are, therefore, ony two possibilities. The first is to grant no political sovereignty over the Holy site. There would be no Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount and Israel would withdraw its sovereignty over the Western Wall. In this case, the administration, but not the sovereignty, would be in the hands of the two parties. Alternatively, the sovereignty would be divided in such a way that the Temple Mount would be under full Palestinian sovereignty and the prayer area of the Western Wall would be under Israeli sovereignty.

This opinion sent by Menachem Klein to Albalad.co via faisalassegaf@yahoo.com

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