The Battle for Jerusalem
By Ted Belman
The focus on settlements or the “occupation” has now taken a back seat to the focus on Jerusalem itself. It is understood by all that so goes Jerusalem, so goes the peace process.
Daniel Pipes in his well known 2001 article, The Muslim Claim to Jerusalem, asks
The city being of such evidently minor religious importance (to Islam), why does it now loom so large for Muslims, to the point that a Muslim Zionism seems to be in the making across the Muslim world? Why do Palestinian demonstrators take to the streets shouting “We will sacrifice our blood and souls for you, Jerusalem” and their brethren in Jordan yell “We sacrifice our blood and soul for Al-Aqsa”? Why does King Fahd of Saudi Arabia call on Muslim states to protect “the holy city [that] belongs to all Muslims across the world”? Why did two surveys of American Muslims find Jerusalem their most pressing foreign policy issue?
and answers simply
Because of politics. An historical survey shows that the stature of the city, and the emotions surrounding it, inevitably rises for Muslims when Jerusalem has political significance. Conversely, when the utility of Jerusalem expires, so does its status and the passions about it.
Ten years later the Muslim claim is getting traction.
Resolution 242 of the Security Council passed in the wake of the Six Day War made no mention of Jerusalem. Nevertheless when Israel annexed Jerusalem in ’67 the US, and most every other country, refused to recognize the annexation and has ever since.
In the lead up to the Madrid Conference in ‘91, Pres Bush ’41 forced the very reluctant PM Shamir to not only attend the conference but to put Jerusalem on the negotiating table where it has been ever since but set aside as a final status issue.
PM Netanyahu, though under great pressure from Obama would not agree to freeze settlement construction in Jerusalem. All past Israeli governments have built in Jerusalem and the number of Jews now living in east of the armistice lines is approximately 300,000. Barak at Taba, Livni and Olmert, recently, all offered to give Arab east Jerusalem, variously described, to the Palestinians, but no one has even contemplated more.
For Barak Obama, that’s not good enough. By calling all settlements illegal and demanding the 1600 proposed units in Ramat Shlomo, a totally Jewish neighbourhood, be cancelled, he is signally that all Jerusalem east of the armistice lines is in play. He realizes that he will never get the Arabs to accept any deal that doesn’t include, much, if not all of this territory. Israelis are adamant that they will not yield on.
It must be remembered that there was a Jewish majority in Jerusalem since 1860. Jews lived all over Jerusalem and fought courageously in the War of Independence in 1948 to maintain their hold on it but in the end lost many lives and the east part of the city. No doubt they would have been able to keep it all had Jewish immigration not been restricted by the British for ten years preceding the war and had the British prevented the Arabs from massacring Jews in the city during those years.
Last November, a top State Department official spelled out that the goal of the United States in its negotiations in the Middle East is to pressure Israel into expelling Jews from Judea and Samaria in order to “end the occupation that began in 1967.”
By refusing to recognize Israel’s reunification of Jerusalem, the US State Dept is saying that all lands in Jerusalem east of the armistice lines are occupied territory. They are also flying in the face of a April 1990 “House (Congress) Resolution Expressing Support for Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital”
“Whereas ambiguous statements by the Government of the United States concerning the right of Jews to live in all parts of Jerusalem raise concerns in Israel that Jerusalem might one day be redivided and access to religious sites in Jerusalem denied to Israeli citizens; and the search for a lasting peace in the region:
“Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring),
“That the Congress
(1) acknowledges that Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of the State of Israel;
(2) strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic religious group are protected; and”
The terms of reference for the proximity talks announced at the same time, made no specific reference to Jerusalem but did provide for “secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.” Thus Israel can only rely on this slim reed to justify her act of reunification.
Last December the EU amended a Swedish draft of a statement that called for East Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestine, to read “Jerusalem as the future capital of two states.” Even so there are many in the EU who still support the Swedish draft.
King Abdullah of Jordan also weighed in. by saying, “Jerusalem constitutes a red line for us, and Israel must recognize Jerusalem’s status among Arabs, Muslims and Christians, and not play with fire,” and went on to say the peace negotiations had to lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital.
And as usually in order to prod the international community to pressure Israel, the Palestinians, at the urging of their leaders, are rioting in Jerusalem.
Israel is standing firm and united.
The present government and Kadima unequivocally reject relinquishing Jewish areas of Jerusalem and a large majority of Israelis support keeping all of it.
Even Pres Peres said that Israel has every right to build in Jerusalem.
Everyone knows there will be no peace agreement unless Israel caves in on this. That’s why they say construction in annexed Jerusalem puts the achievement of a peace agreement at risk.
Obama has few choices, namely 1) force Israel with all manner of actions or threats, to share Jerusalem, 2) force the PA to accept much less then they are demanding or 3) be content with a peace process for show or no peace process at all.
He won’t succeed with the first, won’t try the second and thus is left with the third. If, as a result the Arab League, or the EU, submit the matter to the Security Council to impose a solution on Israel, as they are both threatening to do, then Obama will have to decide whether to veto it or not. Put another way he will have to decide whether to alienate the EU and Arab League or to alienate Americans.
But if he declines to veto it, Israel will not comply with the UN diktat and will do what is best for her without regard to the international community. Sanctions would come next and the question of how to exercise his veto will again be before him.
Perhaps a realignment is in order? America, with the view to currying favour with the Arabs, has always been against Israel’s expansion, even as a result of a defensive war,. She saved Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from the clutches of Sadaam Hussein in the Gulf war and liberated Iraqis from Hussein’s despotism in the Iraq War. A lot of good it has done them! She is still the “great Satan” and hated by the man on the Arab street. She has also promoted the peace process which in itself is very destabilizing and which has caused the deaths of over 1300 Israelis and many more Arabs..
Why not realign herself with Israel’s policies, clearly and unequivalently. This would end the deligitimation and demonization of Israel. It’s American ambivalence that fuels it. This would result in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict receding from the front pages. It would allow Israelis and Palestinians to focus on coexistence and not land for peace. The Palestinians are intransigent now because the US gives them hope. The Palestinians will only get realistic if they are required to sink or swim on their own.
To further calm the neighbourhood and pacify Egypt and Saudi Arabia, she should take down the regime in Iran and let Israel take down Hamas and Hezbollah, if need be.
That’s the real peace process, the real path to peace. And leave Jerusalem to Israel.
…The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 is a public law of the United States passed by the 104th Congress on October 23, 1995. It was passed for the purposes of initiating and funding the relocation of the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no later than May 31, 1999, and attempted to withhold 50 percent of the funds appropriated to the State Department specifically for ‘‘Acquisition and Maintenance of Buildings Abroad’’ as allocated in fiscal year 1999 until the United States Embassy in Jerusalem had officially opened. The act also called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city and for it to be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel. Israel officially recognizes Jerusalem as its capital; the foreign policy of the United States government officially does not. The proposed law was adopted by the Senate (93-5), and the House (374-37).
Since passage, the law has never been implemented, because of opposition from Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, who view it as a Congressional infringement on the Executive Branch’s constitutional authority over foreign policy; they have consistently claimed the presidential waiver on national security interests….