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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Relfections on dividing Jerusalem

For several months now, crooked Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert and his deputy, sex offender Haim Ramon, have been trying to divide Jerusalem with the 'Palestinians' in return for a piece of paper that says 'peace' on it. I have been following these efforts through numerous posts on this blog - too numerous to even cite. But the bottom line is something I wrote back in March in response to a post on Captain's Quarters:
Actually, Barak did try to divide Jerusalem at Camp David and even more so at the Taba talks in January 2001 (by which time he was a lame duck for all intents and purposes). He was willing to give the 'Palestinians' all of the Arab neighborhoods in the city (nearly all neighborhoods in Jerusalem are either entirely Arab or entirely Jewish, although mapping them would look like a crazy quilt). In fact, he tried to give them the neighborhoods before he went to Camp David. Fortunately, he failed. Had he succeeded, you would have had a lot more suburbs like Gilo being shot at from a lot more Arab villages like Beit Jallah and Beit Sahur. Yours truly could have been a target - we live about 300 meters from an Arab village. Yes, in Jerusalem.

Where talks broke down was over the Temple Mount. Barak tried to reach an agreement that the 'Palestinians' would control the top of the Mount, while Israel would control the ground underneath the Temple Mount. Israel would also have controlled the Jewish quarter, and would have had access to it through the Armenian quarter. The rest of the Old City would have gone to the 'Palestinians.' Arafat turned down the offer.

This sounds like a loser to me, however. Israel will not accept the partition of Jerusalem easily, nor will the nation blithely support the dismantling of its settlements in the West Bank. The forced removal of settlers in Gaza created a firestorm of criticism, and that decision involved far fewer settlers in a much less defensible area. Given Olmert's popularity, I doubt he could get the Knesset to sign off on such an agreement. After botching the war and the peace in Lebanon, not too many will trust him with the Saudi initiative.

It sounds like a loser to me too. But I have a lot less faith than Ed does in what Israelis might do were Olmert to try to implement these proposals.
From the 'Palestinians' viewpoint, what they turned down at Camp David and Taba has to be a starting point. For 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen to have any chance of selling a deal to his 'people' he believes that he needs more than what Arafat turned down. So, nor surprisingly, we have this statement this morning on Jerusalem:
Any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will require the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in all of east Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Adnan Husseini told The Jerusalem Post Monday.

The comments by Husseini, who previously served as director of the Wakf (Muslim religious trust) that administers the Temple Mount, highlighted the immense gap between the parties regarding Jerusalem, and cast doubt on whether Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's longstanding proposal to cede Arab neighborhoods on the city's periphery as part of a final peace agreement could serve as basis for such an accord.

"The outline for Jerusalem is very clear," Husseini said. "East Jerusalem is for the Palestinians and west Jerusalem is for the Israelis."

A division of the city that would leave Jewish neighborhoods under Israeli control and put Arab neighborhoods under Palestinian control was at the core of then-US president Bill Clinton's peace plan that Yasser Arafat rejected seven years ago at Camp David.
Husseini's 'solution' would leave another 200,000 or so homeless Israelis, including yours truly and family, who live in Jerusalem but over the former border.

Are Israelis willing to divide Jerusalem for a piece of paper that says 'peace' on it? Surprisingly (given how easily we are willing to give up on Judea and Samaria and put 80% of the population in Kassam range), no.
Should Israel compromise Jerusalem's statues as part of any future peace agreement with the Palestinians? Sixty-three percent of those asked said they think Jerusalem should not be included in a peace agreement, 21% thought it should and 16% would agree to it only if the motion was carried out by referendum.

As for the handing over of Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority, 68% of the poll's participants were against the idea, 20% agreed with it and 11% said they would agree should a referendum support the idea.

But what of the holy places in Jerusalem? When asked who should remain sovereign of the Western Wall and Temple Mount, 61% believed Israel should be named sovereign, 16% voted for joint Israeli-Palestinian sovereignty, 21% said the holy places should be under international rule and 1% said Jordan should be named the holy places' sovereign.
Keep in mind that 20% of 'Israelis' are Arabs, and a much higher percentage of them is likely to support concessions to the 'Palestinians' in Jerusalem.

So what does Olmert think he's doing? Olmert apparently believes that he can reach whatever deal he wants, and then force the nation to back it by international pressure, since if a deal is reached, the pressure on Israel would be enormous. The only thing that can likely prevent him from doing that is if the government falls before he can reach a deal. Yesterday - finally - opposition leader Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu finally started attacking the weak links in the Olmert government.
Knesset Member Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud), leader of the parliamentary opposition, sharply attacked the coalition parties Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu in his speech at the opening of the Knesset's winter session on Monday.

"What are you doing in this government?" he asked. "Do you really agree to let Hamas rule neighborhoods in Jerusalem?" Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan to give the Palestinian Authority a state in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and much of Jerusalem is a danger to Israel, he said, "and you are not preventing the danger by sitting in the government. To the contrary - you are giving it legitimacy and allowing it to happen."
The party whose voter base is most likely to go to the Likud in the next election if it's seen as being too 'moderate' responded that it sees, hears and speaks no evil:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised Shas' spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef that the issue of Jerusalem would not be included in a joint Israeli-Palestinian declaration at the end of the forthcoming Mideast peace conference, senior Shas members told Ynet Monday.

However, despite Shas' demand, the prime minister refused to speak out publicly against Vice Premier Haim Ramon's recent statement that Jerusalem would be divided.

"The prime minister stressed that the division of Jerusalem would not be a part of the declaration of principles. However, he explained that any reference he might make to Ramon's words could undermine Palestinian President Abbas' efforts to control the Palestinian Authority, and the American efforts to promote the diplomatic process," a Shas member said.

He added that Shas would "find it difficult" to remain in the coalition if the declaration of principles include reference to the division of Jerusalem or the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. "The Jerusalem issue is a very sensitive one for Rabbi Ovadia, and he objected to the division of the city even during Barak's term."
A few observations:

1. Olmert has long since ceased to know the difference between the truth and a lie. His alleged commitment to Rabbi Yosef is therefore meaningless.

2. I'll bet Shas would "find it difficult" to remain in the coalition if the declaration of principles include reference to the division of Jerusalem or the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. They would lose most of their voters instantaneously.

3. As to the Shas member's claim that Rabbi Yosef "objected to the division of the city even during Barak's term," let's just say I have a very different recollection.

My prediction is that this will all unravel whether before the parties get to Annapolis (they won't reach an agreed declaration) or once they get there, and then we will be facing another intifadeh like seven years ago. This time, fortunately, the IDF is still all over Judea and Samaria. Because this time it is likely to be all out war, God forbid.


At 3:29 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Thank goodness Arafat saved Israel from the Barak plan.
I wonder however, was it truly the Barak plan or was barak forced by Clinton to make those concessions? What was the buzz in Israel? We know that Bibi was snookered by Clinton at Wye with Pollard being dangled.
Nevertheless the Olmerde plan seems to be that. No prodding by Bush needed.

At 6:29 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


It was the Barak plan. No question. The only issue at Camp David was whether Barak was that incredibly stupid or whether he was incredibly smart in calling Arafat's bluff. Taba answered that question.

At 7:47 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

If Barak were that brilliantly Machiavellian, maybe he should take over as PM


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