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Sh'ma Presents A Range Of Views About The Future Of Jerusalem

Allan Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
May-June 2000

A special expanded issue of Sh'ma (May 2000), a journal published by the Committee of Jewish Family and Life, provides a range of voices about the question of Jerusalem's future, which it calls "one of the most complex and difficult issues before us."  
Prof. Jerome E. Segal, director of the Jerusalem Project at the University of Maryland's School of Public Affairs and president of the Jewish Peace Lobby, writes that, "The core of the Jerusalem issue is the question of sovereignty over East Jerusalem's three regions: the historic walled city; the downtown areas surrounding the Old City that constitute the remainder of what had been East Jerusalem when the city was under Jordanian control...and the vast, heterogeneous area of the West Bank that Israel added to East Jerusalem after unifying the pre-existing city during the 1967 war, This last area, `the eastern enlargement,' is roughly nine times the size of pre-1967 East Jerusalem."  
Dr. Segal points out that, "Fortunately, Israelis and Palestinians do not, in general, view the same parts of the city as most important, A substantial number of Israeli Jews are prepared to give Palestinians sovereignty over the more remote areas of East Jerusalem and also to affirm the idea of a smaller Yerushalayim as long as it includes West Jerusalem...These differential attachments form the underlying basis for the two-cities approach: Yerushalayim and Al Quds...There can be two cities, but they must overlap in the Old City...Just because the Old City is a distinct entity, already surrounded by substantial walls, with only a few gates that allow entry and exit, it can feasibly be part of both cities and both states...The American Jewish community can play a role in bringing this about. In particular, we should undertake an historic Jewish-Islamic dialogue."  
Expressing a different view, Carolyn Greene, Associate Executive Director of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, argues that, "Any final settlement for Jerusalem will involve painful compromises on both sides...The only practical approach is maintaining a unified city with a single administration under Israeli control, while striving to create productive working relationships between Jerusalem's Jews and Arabs. This is the best way to ensure Jerusalem's future security, sanctity and openness, and the perpetuation of its historic links with Jews the world over."  
Joseph Alpher, former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, states that, "The current guiding principle of Israeli peacemaking with Palestinians is separation. The only way to apply this principle in Jerusalem is, indeed, to divide the city along Jewish-Arab demographic lines. A small but growing number of Israelis on both the Left and the Right appear to recognize this. This is also the PLO proposal, which includes a provision for a special status to be applied to the Old City."  
Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian journalist who is director of the Institute of Modern Media at Al Quds University in Jerusalem, writes: "The history of the city of Jerusalem is full of tragedy and pain. One conqueror after another has taken the city, only to lose it to someone else. Defeat has met each ruler attempting to govern the city in an exclusive way...I am convinced that the only viable solutions to Jerusalem is a shared one between the peoples of the city and the faithful...We need to politicize and de-emotionalize the city...the conflict over Jerusalem will not and should not be solved on the basis of a zero sum game. Any solution reached now will be humiliating to one side and therefore will not be signed, nor implemented if signed under duress. A very vague agreement on principles could be signed at present with a long transitional period in which the peoples of the city can themselves begin the process of reconciliation and search for a lasting solution."

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