The Territorial Management of Ethnic Conflict

By John Coakley | Go to book overview

6

Israel

Ethnic Conflict and Political Exchange

ALEX WEINGROD

In keeping with the overall theme of this volume, this chapter provides a broad survey of the issues of 'territorial management' as they relate to Palestinians and Jews in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza territories, and the city of Jerusalem. This affords a brief general overview, emphasizing in particular spatial and other types of separation, as well as majority-minority political relationships, between Jews and Arabs. Attention is then focused upon the various forms of political exchange that came into being in Jerusalem in the period between 1967 and the present. Jerusalem is important not only since it has both practical and symbolic significance in the overall Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also because of its position as a large city where Jews and Arabs live and interact on a continuing, daily basis.

In the lexicon of the lengthy Arab-Jewish or Israeli-Palestinian dispute, the term 'territorial management' has essentially meant partition into separate Arab and Jewish states. 1 Based upon the belief that a single state composed of approximately equal numbers of Jews and Arabs would be so conflict-ridden as to make its very existence impossible, the advocates of partition proposed dividing Palestine into two states. The 1947 United Nations resolution called for the formation of separate Arab and Jewish states, while Jerusalem, which was to remain united, would have the special status of an 'international city'. Although the United Nations plan was never implemented, the events of the Arab-Israeli war of 1947-48 themselves led to a de facto partition and practically total separation of populations. Israel was proclaimed a Jewish state that included a Jewish majority and a small Arab minority; Jordan, itself a new state, absorbed the West Bank region that was entirely Arab in population, with no Jews remaining; and instead of becoming internationalized Jerusalem was divided into two separate cities, the one Israeli and the other Jordanian.

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