A prosperous and peaceful Palestinian entity could only benefit both Palestinians and Israelis.
Economic arguments against sharing Jerusalem with a future Palestinian state have no support based on present or foreseeable conditions. There is no threat to the economic growth of the Israeli economy.
Indeed, a resolution of the Jerusalem Question could only improve the economic outlook for the city, East and West, considering the influx of international funding that peace would bring, to say nothing of the boom in tourism that would also ensue.
According to Michael Dumper (Politics of Sacred Space, 154–5), under a permanent-status agreement the projected annual number of guests in Jerusalem would rise from 1 million to about 2 million, and overnight stays from about 3 million to 5 million. Shimon Peres has argued for many years that an economically prosperous Palestinian entity could only benefit both Palestinians and Israelis.
It makes sense that, as Ira Sharkansky has noted, “the motive forces of Jerusalem policymaking are more likely to be national and religious than a seeking-after economic advantage” (Governing Jerusalem, Again on The World’s Agenda, 17).
As to legal reasons for the impasse over the city, the issues are more complex, and as several authorities have pointed out, there is no simple answer to them on either side. However, the baseline for final negotiations with respect to certain key legal issues regarding Jerusalem has been set. In the 1993 Declaration of Principles, both sides agreed to be bound by UN resolutions 242 and 338.
Resolution 242 (22 November 1967) speaks to the situation between Israel and the Arab states following the 1967 war. It mentions the inadmissibility of acquiring territory by war, and the need for a just and lasting peace with security for all states within recognized borders in the region. It calls on Israel to withdraw from territory acquired in the 1967 war and for the Arab states to cease from hostility with all other states in the region.
Resolution 338 (21–2 October 1973) addresses the situation between Israel and the Arab states following the 1973 war. It calls for a cease-fire and the end of all military activity, and for the belligerents to put Resolution 242 into effect and find a just and durable peace. The May 2003 “roadmap” to ending the Arab-Israeli conflict, proposed by the Quartet (UN, U.S., E.U. and Russia), also acknowledges the force of Resolution 1397 (12 March 2002), which recalls the two above resolutions and states the intention of the UN to press for renewal of the peace process and cessation of violence, recognizing the efforts of the Quartet and Saudi Arabia to resolve the conflict.
For many, security concerns would seem to be the main stumbling block in coming to agreement over Jerusalem’s future. Security is normally defined in terms of external security, internal security and public order. The latter is usually a matter of police control over crime in the public sphere. However, both external security, in terms of attack from outside Israel, and internal security, in terms of terrorist activity within Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, are the concern of the IDF.
Israel’s use of the IDF to counter the First and Second Intifadas has placed the army, rather than the police, at the center of public order issues in and around Jerusalem. Thus one possible explanation for Israeli intransigence over resolving the Jerusalem Question is guaranteeing its external and internal security. The security of Jerusalem and its environs is a logical concern for all parties involved in the city’s daily life.
The significance of the Old City as a center of worship for multiple faiths carries security implications because of the possibility of clashes between visitors to the various religious sites. While public order has usually been the issue in such cases, events of the past thirty years have demonstrated the vulnerability and volatility of the area encompassing the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, the al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Since the Israelis took possession of the Old City in 1967, they have often stated that they will provide adequate security and freedom of access to the holy places for adherents of all faiths. The statement is made whenever there is a suggestion that sovereignty over the holy sites should be shared with others. But this response does not appear to be based on security needs.
An argument for intractability on the part of Israel based on security concerns appears to have little merit. As the single most powerful entity in the Middle East, supported by the United States, Israel is fully capable of defending herself from attack within Jerusalem’s present or foreseeable boundaries.
Image: Jill Granberg. Flickr