Delay of Talks on Jerusalem Status May be Advantageous for Israel – American, Palestinian Experts

Azerbaijan, Baku, 14 April / Trend corr A. Gasimova, E. Tariverdiyeva, R. Hafizoglu/ The decision to delay the issue on the status of Jerusalem for 5 years which was adopted during the Palestine-Israel talks is first of all advantageous for Israel.

"At present, it is not important for Israel to discuss the status of Jerusalem. By delaying this issue, he wants to send a message to the Arab and Muslim world that it is a city of only Jews," said Palestinian expert Isam Mohammad.

Sipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister and Abul-Ala, the official representative of Palestinian Administration discussed the delay of discussions on the status of Jerusalem on 11 April in Jerusalem, the Israeli Isra reported.

"Five years is enough to make a Jewish city out of Jerusalem," Mohammad, the dean of Islam University said to Trend from Gaza on 14 April. "The delay of discussions on the status of the city for five years will have an impact on the 'peace process", he said. " Israel's peace plan serves the interests of only the Jews, but not the Palestinians. If Israel insists on peace talks, then it should at least withdraw from the territory that they occupied in 1967. It is too early to speak of peace in the region," he said.

As to the prospects of constructing Jewish settlements in Jerusalem in connection with the delay in considering the issue on the status of Jerusalem, Mohammad does not rule out that Zionist regime will lay new settlements for the Jews during this period.

According to the American expert Stephen Zunes, not very likely, since the current Israeli government appears unwilling to put the matter on the table and the United States government appears unwilling to pressure Israel to engage in serious negotiations on the subject. 

"An overwhelming bipartisan majority of Congress has effectively recognized Israel's annexation of greater Jerusalem. Over the past 15 years, the United States has blocked a series of UN Security Council resolutions confirming previous calls on Israel to rescind its annexation and has even blocked resolutions which simply refer to Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem as "occupied territory," Zunes, the Professor of the San-Francisco University, said to Trend via e-mail on 14 April.

He said it will make the prospects of a negotiated settlement even less likely as Israel continues with its stated policy of trying to create "facts on the ground. "The current U.S. position is that it is up to Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to determine the fate of the settlements. U.S. also insists that it would be "unrealistic" to expect Israel to withdraw from its illegal settlements in or around Jerusalem," Zunes said.

"Given the city's significance to both populations, any sustainable peace agreement would need to recognize Jerusalem as the capital city for both Israel and Palestine. In addition to its religious significance for both Palestinian Christians and Palestinian Muslims, Jerusalem has long been the most important cultural, commercial, political, and educational centre for Palestinians and has the largest Palestinian population of any city in the world," the expert said.

"Both sides insist on all of eastern Jerusalem as their capitol.  It includes the holiest sites in Judaism (Western Wall) and the third holiest sites in Islam (Dome of the Rock.)  What is interesting is the internal Palestinian rhetoric on these issues.  Publicly they discuss accommodations but within the Arabic/Palestinian media they insist that there is no alternative to complete control of Jerusalem," Aaron Mannes, American expert on Middle East, said to Trend via e-mail on 14 April.

"Most of the settlements are built in areas adjacent to Israel's '67 borders and Israel would insist on keeping these territories for security purposes.  The '67 borders are very vulnerable (in some places the entire country of Israel is less than 20 km wide.)  These settlements represent a very small portion of the West Bank (less the 5%).  There are also settlements built deeper in the West Bank which are in the heart of Palestinian territory.  Dismantling these settlements is politically very difficult.  However, an Israeli government would be willing to do this if they felt it would ensure a real settlement with the Palestinians," Mannes said.

"However, the internal discourse of the Palestinians - which continues to reject Israel's existence and make demands that are not possible for Israel to meet (such as return of the Palestinian refugees) - gives the Israel government little faith that a lasting settlement is possible.  Consequently, the Israelis have little incentive to dismantle the far-flung settlements," he said.

Both Israel and the Palestine autonomy officially insist on Jerusalem as their capital. After the victory in the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel took control over the entire territory of the city, legislatively separated East Jerusalem from the western bank of the Jordan River and proclaimed its sovereignty over the unified Jerusalem. Through the Law on Jerusalem dated 30 July 1980 Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its single and indivisible capital city.

UN does not recognize the one-sided annexation of the East Jerusalem.

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