Jerusalem’s Residents Mull the Possibility of Partition

November 25, 2007 01:01 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Ahead of the Annapolis peace talks, Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert says that he is prepared to discuss the division of Jerusalem, a hurdle on the road to any deal. Both Palestinians and Arabs claim the city as their capital, and reactions among both peoples appear to have been mixed.

30-Second Summary

On Nov. 4, in a televised speech, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed a determination to pursue peace with the Palestinians despite the obstacles presented by core issues, such as the status of Jerusalem.

Since then, Olmert has restated that he is prepared to put territory on the negotiating table at next week’s peace talks in Annapolis, Maryland.

According to The Washington Post, an angry response from some sectors of the Israeli community to this conciliatory talk has been discerned from the appearance on Jerusalem’s streets of posters depicting former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Arab headdress.

Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli man angered by the premier’s concessions to the Palestinians. Security officials and pundits have interpreted the posters as a sign that Olmert’s push for an agreement will meet “ugly and potentially violent resistance.”

There are even reports that the prospect of the city’s partition has upset some of its Arab residents. Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz writes that there has been a rise in the number of Jerusalem Arabs who, reluctant to be absorbed into an impoverished Palestinian state, are applying for Israeli citizenship.

But Annapolis would not be going ahead without Olmert making certain gestures. The Arab League, whose presence will make this the biggest peace conference since 1991, has said that no agreement will be reached unless Israel returns the territories taken in the Six-Day War of 1967. The most important of those areas is Arab east Jerusalem.

Although Israel asserts that Jerusalem is its capital, most countries refuse to recognize that claim and maintain embassies in Tel Aviv.

One exception is the U.S. Congress, which acknowledged the Israeli claim to the city in a resolution of 2002. However, that law was not passed without qualification. President Bush maintained at the time that the matter was still to be resolved through negotiation.

Headline Links: Inching toward partition

Reactions: Jerusalem's Palestinian population

Reference Material: The status of Jerusalem and the Arab League

History: Israel’s founding, the Six-Day War and Jerusalem

The War of Independence, 1948

Israel was founded after World War II, in the shadow of the Holocaust and under the auspices of the United Nations. The original UN plan was to divide the area then called Palestine into separate, autonomous Arab and Jewish states. Jerusalem was to be given special international status and shared between the two peoples.

The neighboring nations in the Middle East refused to endorse the UN resolution for the creation of a Jewish homeland on territory that was part of what was known as Palestine.
Background to the Arab-Israeli conflict
The Six-Day War, 1967

Israel’s possession of the entirety of Jerusalem dates from the Six-Day War. The prologue to that conflict was Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s decision to send troops into the Sinai, the isthmus of land joining Egypt to Israel, and to set up a naval blockade around the Red Sea port town of Eilat. In June 1967, Israel acted preemptively to counter the strike it alleged was being planned by its neighbors.

The Israeli military crushed the armed forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, destroying most of the Egyptian air force before it had time to scramble one plane. Israel pushed its borders outwards occupying territory in the Sinai, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Opinion and Analysis: Partition and probability


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