Jerusalem is and will forever be the capital of Israel. Any rational policy must also recognize that: one-third of Jerusalem’s residents are Palestinians; all Palestinians consider Jerusalem their capital and have deep political, economic, and religious ties to the city; and Muslims and Christians around the world are deeply connected to Jerusalem. For the sake of Israel’s security and stability, a formula must be found to share the city between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The emergence of a Palestinian capital in Arab areas of Jerusalem does not undermine Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its capital. To the contrary, such a development would clear the way – at long last – for international recognition of Jewish Jerusalem, with a strong Jewish majority, as Israel’s eternal capital. Even Israeli leaders on the right – like former Jerusalem mayor and Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert – have discussed the idea of giving the Palestinians sovereignty over the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.
There is nothing sacred about the city’s municipal borders, which were redrawn by Israel after the 1967 War to include large areas of the West Bank, home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Since then, Israel has built Jewish neighborhoods in these areas in order to erase the pre-1967 border, reinforce the new municipal boundaries, and make the city indivisible. And now the building of the wall (in Jer. it is a wall not a fence) is closing still further areas of East Jerusalem to Palestinian access.
Pragmatic, creative solutions exist to satisfy competing claims to Jerusalem and its holy sites; what is needed is the leadership, courage, and goodwill to explore them.
Peace Now supports the Geneva initiative, including it’s suggested solution regarding Jerusalem.