The future division of Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israelis stalls "core issues" negotiation
Israel's PM Ehud Olmert seemed to push Jerusalem off the table again today. He said that because the city's future is such a sensitive issue, other matters, such as borders, will be tackled first as this year proceeds toward George Bush's timetable for a Mid-East agreement before he leaves office in January 2009. Not without good reason have many observers noted that the city is really the heart of the century-long conflict. In the opening chapter of Identity Ideology and the Future of Jerusalem (Palgrave 2006), I wrote:
"The problem of Jerusalem is one of the most emotional and explosive issues in the world," wrote Palestinian international jurist Henry Cattan in 1981. In the same year, prominent Israeli novelist and commentator "Aleph Bet" Yehoshua noted that "in a period of violent religious renaissance [Jerusalem] is a dangerous political explosive which could give rise to an uncontrollable conflagration." Fourteen years later, Palestinian scholar Ghada Karmi commented that "nothing in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict has been so contentious as the issue of Jerusalem." And in 1999 the Israeli negotiator of the Oslo Agreements, Uri Savir, admitted, "The issue of Jerusalem . . . can easily become a public explosion . . . not just between Palestinians and Israelis, but between the Arab world and Israel, between the Islamic world and the Jewish world."
Explosive, contentious, capable of drawing in much of the world community—this is the pervasive nature of the problem.
Middle East Conflict,