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Joint Arab-Israeli Harvard Study Calls For Palestinian State With Jerusalem As Its Capital

Allan Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
March-April 2000

A new study calling for the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital has been issued by a joint working group of four Arabs and four Israelis who met under the auspices of Harvard University's Program on International Conflict Analysis and Resolution working with a grant from the U.S. Information Agency as well as the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies and the Jewish life program of the Nathan Cummings Foundation.  
The Forward (Feb. 25, 2000) quotes from the Harvard study: "The two state solution here refers to two states, each of which is sovereign, viable and secure. The solution of the Jerusalem problem should respect the national, cultural, religious, political, legal and historical rights of both peoples. Jerusalem should be an open and undivided city, with free access to the holy sites, serving as the capital of both states."  

The Israelis who participated in the working group included the defense correspondent of Ha'aretz, Ze'ev Schiff; a Knesset member from the Labor Party, Yossi Katz; a former ambassador to Egypt and Jordan, Shimon Shamir, and a professor, Moshe Maozh. The Arabs included three academics, Khalil Shikaki, Yezid Sayigh and Chassan Khatib, as well as a member of the P.L.O.'s economic arm. Ibraham Dakkak.  

The Harvard psychology professor who helped organize the working group and wrote the paper, Herbert Kelman, said that no representatives of the Likud Party were part of the effort: "The purpose here was not to be representative; the purpose was to come up with some new ideas. We needed people who were willing to engage in this kind of process." He said there is more flexibility on the Jerusalem issue among the Israeli public than there appears to be. "There have been a lot of slogans, but when you go into it in more detail, you find that really the issue is not as insoluble as it has at times been presented," Kelman said.  

Rabbi Rachel Cowan of the Nathan Cummings Foundation said that her organization helped fund the working group with $100,000 because Kelman "is one of the most effective people working on track-two diplomacy...I just felt it was really important for Israel and Palestinians to be talking about it seriously and in depth."  

Rabbi Cowan said she knows "lots of people are upset" by talk of sharing Jerusalem, "It's a highly emotional issue... People are just talking in alarmist terms about symbols," she said. But she said she supported a realistic approach that will yield a peaceful settlement that will assure Israel's security. "Without peace in the area, the country is just tremendously threatened," Rabbi Cowan declared.  

In February, Americans for Peace Now and the American Committee on Jerusalem co-sponsored a Capitol Hill conference to explore the future of Jerusalem. Among the speakers was Ellen Laipson, a Middle East specialist currently on the staff' of the National Intelligence Council. She said that in the "new Middle East" which is emerging, neither side is "going to achieve total vindication of their historic grievances, nobody is going to get 100% of what they think they are entitled to..."  

Laipson explained that, "...in the early `80s there was a lot of discussion, and some academics did some very useful work on what shared sovereignty of Jerusalem would look like..." Today, she said, many people are thinking of "side-by-side sovereignty" in which "there will be as little shared sovereignty as possible, possibly only shared sovereignty over those core holy sites, but essentially people who have ID cards for the Palestinian Authority would be let into Jerusalem, would pay their taxes, and get their municipal services, would largely be under Palestinian sovereignty, for the municipal part of Jerusalem, that would be recognized as the Palestinian capital. And those on the Israeli side would see themselves exclusively under Israeli sovereignty...What I think was a utopian ideal of shared sovereignty has evolved into something that is more parallel."  

Ron Pundik, an Israeli architect of the Oslo agreement, stated: "To all Israelis and Jews...who say Jerusalem is not negotiable, Jerusalem is not on the table, Jerusalem is ours, I say: Without an understanding on Jerusalem, there is no peace."

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