Jerusalem On and Off the Agenda

Posted on Tue, Feb 19, 2008 @ 03:24 PM

Palestinian president denies agreement to forestall discussion of Jerusalem.
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Details:  Jerusalem On and Off the Agenda
Dividing Jerusalem

President Mahmoud Abbas has denied coming to any agreement with Israeli PM Ehud Olmert to delay discussing Jerusalem in the current round of meetings.

As we have noted many times on this blog, Jerusalem is a major, if not the, sticking point.

I came across the following statement from Israel's long-time UN ambassador, the late Abba Eban. Although it's addressing the idea of the internationalization of the city, it captures the issue well when it comes to the identities and ideologies of Jerusalem's people:

“The idea of a separate international regime for Jerusalem has always been a fantasy, and its bizarre anomalies have been exposed in every attempt to put it into effect. It rests on a false picture both of Jerusalem and of the United Nations. Jerusalem is not an ethereal abstraction revolving in a vacuum of history. It is a city of living men and women with sharply defined national allegiances and identities. It cannot be anything that the majority of its citizens do not want it to be.” (Personal Witness, 206) 

Tags: jerusalem, Ehud Olmert, israel, west bank, mahmoud abbas, Palestine, abba eban

Israeli Newspaper Haaretz Reports FM Livni's Opposition to Olmert's Go Slow on Jerusalem

Posted on Fri, Feb 15, 2008 @ 03:27 PM

Israeli foreign minister opposes her prime minister's delay of Jerusalem issue
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Haaretz Reports FM Livni's Opposition to Olmert's Go Slow on Jerusalem
Jerusalem negotiations
Tzipi Livni agreed with her PA counterpart, Ahmed Qurei, that without Jerusalem on the table negotiations would go nowhere. Annapolis was an agreement to discuss all issues, she said. Haaretz commented, "This means that the order of debates on the core issues is insignificant, as without an understanding on Jerusalem, any understandings reached on other issues, like borders and refugees, are meaningless."

Tags: jerusalem, mid east conflict, middle east, Olmert, israel, annapolis, Palestine, livni, borders, qurei

Palestinian Prime Minister Says Israel Making Little Effort

Posted on Wed, Feb 13, 2008 @ 03:30 PM

Salam Fayyad claims little progress on the ground in peace process
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Details: Palestinian Prime Minister Says Israel Making  Little Effort
Palestinian progress security issues

Speaking in the U.S. at the Aspen Institute, Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad said that three months after the Annapolis meetings little has changed on the ground as far as Israel's efforts are concerned.

While, according to Tony Blair, the Palestinians have made progress on security issues, Fayyad said that with respect to road blocks and settlements, "You see no change in the way that Israel operates."

Tags: tony blair, Salam Fayyad, peace process, israel, annapolis, Middle East Conflict, Palestine, mid-east, aspen institute

Jerusalem Continues to be Critical Issue in Mid-East Conflict

Posted on Mon, Jan 28, 2008 @ 04:14 PM
The future division of Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israelis stalls "core issues" negotiation
Image courtesy Jerusalem Shots

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.

Tags: jerusalem, Ehud Olmert, Ghada Karmi, Uri Savir, Middle East Conflict, Palestine, Henry Cattan

Bush Visit to Middle East Yields Little Progress on Palestine-Israel Front

Posted on Thu, Jan 17, 2008 @ 04:29 PM

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Bush Visits Middle East

I have delayed comment on President Bush's only visit to Israel and Palestine during his two terms of office to be able to take a longer view.

Assessments of the visit are guarded at best.

At the beginning of the tour the Economist laid out the puzzle and the challenge in Israel and Palestine. At the end of the week long circuit, the same source summed up the prospects of success and the sub-text of the tour when it comes to arms supplies and who is providing what to whom.

Naymz Profile for Dr.  David  Hulme

Tags: arms supplies, President Bush, conflict, israel, Palestine

Olmert and Abbas to Meet Today

Posted on Thu, Dec 27, 2007 @ 05:33 PM
Will they be able to jump-start the Middle East peace process?
Reuters reports that the Israeli and Palestinian leaders will meet today, Thursday, to try to get stalled talks going again.  But there is concern that it will take outside intervention to break the logjam over Israel's continued East Jerusalem building program.

Tags: east jerusalem, israel, Palestine

Israeli and Palestinian Leaders Bogged Down Post-Annapolis

Posted on Thu, Dec 27, 2007 @ 04:37 PM
Still no sign of progress toward peace
The Washington Post carried an editorial comment today about the noisy exchange over Israel's plan to build more homes in Har Homa overlooking Bethlehem. The point is that it is a marginal issue when both sides know there will be land swaps in a final solution for Jerusalem. True. But wisdom would suggest that provocation of any kind is not the path to meaningful and just peace.

Tags: jerusalem, Bethlehem, Har Homa, Middle East Peace, conflict, israel, Palestine

Review of Palestinian Christian Situation

Posted on Wed, Dec 19, 2007 @ 04:51 PM

Is Middle East peace a distant dream?

Identity, Ideology and the Future of Jerusalem, by David HulmeIn a report from the Israel Project attention is directed to the plight of Palestinian Christians whose numbers have dwindled in recent years. The site of Jesus' birth has been hard hit. As the report notes, "Bethlehem in particular has seen a dramatic decline in its Christian population. Of Bethlehem’s 30,000 residents, less than 20 percent are Christian. In 1948 though, more than 85 percent of the town’s inhabitants were Christian." In the West Bank and Gaza the drop in numbers is even more dramatic. Once at 15% of the Palestinian population (1948), Christians now represent only 1½%. Muslim persecution is certainly one of the reasons for the decline as the report shows.

Though religious tolerance is usually relegated in discussions about the peace process, without mutual respect between Christians, Muslims and Jews, progress in the Middle East will remain a distant dream. The issue of Jerusalem's declining Christian population is a subject I treat in Identity, Ideology and the Future of Jerusalem.

Vision's web site has a helpful background article about the Jewish perspective, and another about the Palestinian view on Jerusalem.

Tags: jerusalem, gaza, middle east, Christians, Muslims, israel, west bank, Palestine, Jews

Where Annapolis Succeeded

Posted on Mon, Dec 03, 2007 @ 03:35 PM
Michael B. Oren, author of arguably the best account of the Six Day War, had an op-ed piece in the New York Times this weekend. It makes the point that Annapolis succeeded not so much as a peace conference but as a prelude to further conflict in which moderate Middle Easterners of all stripes will oppose the"extremism" of Iran.

Tags: conflict, israel, annapolis, Palestine, Iran, Extremism

Annapolis Process Underway

Posted on Tue, Nov 27, 2007 @ 01:23 PM

Hosted by the US with Arab and Israeli supportmore than 40 nations including significant participants Saudi Arabia and Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian talks in Annapolis were launched yesterday and get underway today. It is said to be just the beginning of a year long process. It seems that a number of critical factors are coalescing and there may be a positive outcome. Fear of the Iran-Hamas-Hezbollah axis, the continued stability of the moderate Arab states, Israel's security situation, Palestinian economic and humanitarian desperation, George Bush's fractured image and last year in officeare all elements in the mix.

The difficult decisions to be made by Israeli and West Bank Palestinian negotiators include the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees' right of return, borders, settlements. security and water rights. Jerusalem is a microcosm of the whole century long conflict, as my book, Identity, Ideology and the Future of Jerusalem points out. The BBC's Martin Asser details the Jerusalem issue today in an article entitled Obstacles to Peace.

Tags: jerusalem, israel, west bank, Palestine, Annapolis talks