Rabbi Moshe Reiss
Stories # 13 – Jerusalem – December 2, Rosh Chodesh
There are two ‘final issue’ demands from the Palestinians; First ‘the
Right of Return from Palestinian Refugees” and Secondly Eastern
Jerusalem as the Capital of the Palestinian State.
Since the basis of any peace with the Palestinians is a two state
solution – one state for Jews and one state for Palestinians ‘the Right
of Palestinian Return to Israeli Land is simply an Oxymoron. Those who
may not know the etymology of Oxymoron it is that morons do not go to
Oxford University, one of the class Universities of the world. I know
since I am a graduate. To believe that Palestinian Refugees can return
to the State of Israel one needs to be a ‘moron’. It is contradictory
to the concept of a ‘two state solution’.
So far only Sari Nusseibeh, Professor of Islamic Philosophy and
President of Al Quds University (he also co-authored with Ami Ayalon -
former head of Shin Beth a peace plan - one of many – all similar) has
publicly stated this problem: ‘Listen, we've got to be realistic.
You're not going home, because the homes don't exist anymore’. Prior to
his death Faisal Husseini also recognized that reality according to
Moshe Amirav, who recently published his book ‘Mr. Prime Minister:
Jerusalem – Problems and Solutions’. As an advisor to Ehud Barak at the
Camp David negotiation in 2000 he complained that just as Arafat
refused to discuss the ‘right of return’ Barak refused to discuss any
solution to Jerusalem (In Jerusalem, Jerusalem Post, Nov.4(.
At a March 17, 2005, at a meeting in Cairo an agreement was made
between Fatah (headed by Abbas), Hamas and Islamic Jihad on continuing
the hudna to the end of this year. The prologue to the six point
agreement stated ‘It is the right of the Palestinian people to end the
occupation and establish a Palestinian state with full sovereignty,
with Jerusalem as its capital, and to ensure the right of Palestinians
to return to their homes and property’. The agreement conditions
include ‘the release of all security prisoners, a withdrawal from the
Palestinian cities, and a cessation of military activities’. The
condition on ‘all security prisoners’ will eventually be met by Israel.
We have already discussed the ‘Return’ issue, all but Jerusalem are
easily solvable. Jerusalem is not easy solvable, but is not
If Jewish politicians continue with the fiction that Jerusalem is an
undivided city and the Palestinian state has no rights in Jerusalem the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict will go on until the days of the Messiah
which is my humble view is centuries from now. There will never be a
solution unless we Israeli’s recognized that approximately half the
population of Jerusalem in Arab, the remaining half are primarily
ultra-orthodox Jews. All other Jews are obviously leaving
Jerusalem. Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel, is poverty
stricken and a declining city. Unless something is done it can only
further decline – it will eventually look Newark, New Jersey or
There are approximately 250,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem; the fence
has 80% on the Israeli side. If the process is completed, some 200,000
Palestinian East Jerusalemites will end up inside Jewish Jerusalem,
live under Israeli control, and due to Jewish building they will
increasingly be separated from the West Bank. The remaining 50,000 will
be outside the barrier, disconnected from the city that has been their
centre of their gravity. They will attempt to find their way back into
the fenced-in areas. Even Al Quds University is split in the middle by
the fence. Arab citizens have inferior rights to Jews - inferior
transportation, inferior health care, inferior housing; inferior in all
ways. They can vote in municipal elections but have (foolishly in my
opinion) boycotted these elections. If the Arabs voted in a
Municipal election there would likely be an Arab Mayor of Jerusalem.
However the Arabs in Jerusalem cannot vote in the Knesset. I presume
that makes them half citizens, another example of inferior rights.
Will this increase Israeli security? International Crisis Group stated
“In fact, they will undermine it, weakening Palestinian
pragmatists, incorporating hundreds of thousands of Palestinians on the
Israeli side of the fence, and sowing the seeds of growing
radicalism". Mouin Rabbani, a senior Palestinian and ICG analyst,
said it could become easier for militant groups to recruit Palestinians
from Jerusalem to carry out attacks as resentment and hardship rose.
(International Crisis Group – August 2).
If we continue with this fiction of an undivided Jerusalem it is only a
question of time until those humiliated Arabs become like the American
Blacks who lit up Los Angeles, Detroit and Newark in the 1960’s and
more recently those in France. But worse they will become the new
suicide bombers – no longer from Nablus, Jenin and Tulkarem but right
next door close to Ben Yehuda street and the Mahane Yehuda market.
A recent EU report stated that the separation barrier purpose is "to
seal off most of East Jerusalem, with its 230,000 Palestinian
residents, from the West Bank" and to create a "de facto annexation of
Has a Greater Jerusalem ideology replaced Greater Israel thesis? It may
be difficult to see any solution to the Jerusalem old city problem but
it is not insoluble. Yes David conquered and founded Jerusalem
(according to our narrative) 3,000 years ago. The Muslims conquered
Jerusalem 1,400 years ago and held on to it until WWI. Each of us
claims God gave it to us. That issue can never be resolved. Only the
Greater Israeli proponents and the Greater Palestinian proponents
believe they have a solution; they are of course the opposite
solutions. As Amirav has stated let God have the sovereignty. What then
is left is a real estate problem. If we cannot share this place
there will never be peace.
Just as moving the refugees into Israel is anti the two state solution
so this Israeli growth plan around Jerusalem is at war with the two
state solution. This will vastly complicate, and perhaps doom, future
attempts to resolve the conflict by both preventing the establishment
of a viable Palestinian capital in Arab East Jerusalem and obstructing
the territorial contiguity of a Palestinian state. Anyone who believes
that the current Israeli policy which seems to expect the Palestinians
to turn into Finns (an apparent new Jewish fantasy) is him/herself a
Solutions to dividing Jerusalem are a requirement for peace. They can
be developed including the old city – we are smart enough to
develop them – all we need is the will! Let us create a temporary
solution for 99 years and agree to renegotiate again then.
If we choose not to negotiate the conflict will gone on until God
brings on His Day of Judgment.