Magazine article Tikkun

Jerusalem: Divided We Stand

Magazine article Tikkun

Jerusalem: Divided We Stand

Article excerpt

Vol. 6, No. 3. 1991

Jerusalem seems, and maywellturnoutto be, a problem that defies political solution. Israel has declared that it considers the entire city its sovereign, undivided, and eternal capital. Palestinians, for their part, have declared the eastern side of the city their own capital. Israelis as well as Palestinians will, on the whole, say that while they may be prepared to compromise on any other issue, they will never countenance a compromise on Jerusalem. Yet this being the case, the prospect for reaching a compromise on any other issue becomes impossible: because if it is true that no compromise over Jerusalem is likely, it is even more true that no compromise on any other issue is likely that fails to include a definitive solution to the Jerusalem problem. Israel seeks to exclude Jerusalem from negotiations, but Palestinians will not countenance negotiations, let alone a settlement, that excludes Jerusalem.

Thus the problem of Jerusalem comes to seem intractable. Paradoxically, but with the positions reversed, this is how the Palestine problem also seemed at one time to many people. Palestinians would not countenance any negotiations that implied waiving their claim to sovereignty in any part of Palestine. Jews, on the other hand, were satisfied with declaring their sovereignty in only one part of the country. Inevitably, war broke out. Forty years later, partition of the country begins to make sense to sizable sectors of the two communities. Partition still has not been achieved, but it no longer appears totally unnatural, illogical, or inconceivable. If it has not been implemented, then this is not because it defies logic, but because one party perceives its implementation as being in conflict with that party's interests. . . .

Arguments that Jerusalem is not as important or as vital to Palestinians as it is to Israelis, and that Israel should therefore maintain exclusive control of it-allowing, at best, for a measure of cultural self-rule among its Arab inhabitants and neighborhoods-are totally false, and simply inconsequential from a practical point of view. Palestinians regard Jerusalem as the natural and historical capital of Palestine, quite apart from any Jewish history affiliated with it. …

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