Since Israel occupied Jerusalem after June 1967, the attitude towards relinquishing occupied Jerusalem has become more and more uncompromising. Now after thirty-eight years since the Six Day War, it is appropriate to ask if this attitude is still unquestionable or non-negotiable.
The time has come to debate this subject more openly and objectively. There are environmental facts on the ground in East Jerusalem, which is more Arabic than Jewish. If one were to examine the area where the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa are situated, it is obvious that Israel (in theory at least) should not have jurisdiction. These Moslem Holy Places could never be part of “United Jerusalem” under Israeli jurisdiction eternally.
Jerusalem – the eternal capital of the Jewish People has become an axiom that has not been open for discussion for many years. Now there seems to be some cracks in that axiom as far as Eastern Jerusalem is concerned. What is controversial is non-Jewish Jerusalem, which includes the Christian and Moslem Holy Places.
However, facts on the ground make discussion of Jerusalem’s future status as being the capital of two states – Israel and the future Palestine, an almost a non-starter for a number of reasons:
- The Palestinian leadership at present is unable to contain Palestinian terror within their midst.
- Israel has no partner on the Palestinian side with whom to negotiate a final status settlement on Jerusalem let alone a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security. This is dependent on the Palestinian Authority’s ability to rein in the terror.
- The presence of uncompromising Palestinian groups who are adamant in their determination never to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
If by some very remote chance, there is unilateral withdrawal from predominantly Arab populated East Jerusalem, there would be total chaos and it would be easier for Palestinian terrorist groups to carry out terror attacks against the Israeli population. A hint of the Palestinian “desire” for peace is occurring since the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Southern Ashkelon is now within the line of Qassam fire from Hamas and company. An Israeli Army base has already been a target of Qassam rocket fire. It seems as if the Palestinian terrorist groups are out to target the electrical installation pylons south of Ashkelon. This could create tremendous damage to Israel’s electric power supply. It would not be surprising if Iran finances these terror attacks. A unilateral withdrawal from Jerusalem with its complex demography and potential for terrorism makes the situation far more complex and dangerous.
The future of any negotiations on Jerusalem’s final status is dependent on the Palestinian’s desire to cease terror and recognize Israel’s right to exist. If these basic ingredients are absent, the idea of the division of Jerusalem between Palestinian East Jerusalem and Israeli West Jerusalem will never be negotiable let alone attainable.