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US President Donald Trump
Photo: Reuters
Kobi Richter
A better solution for Jerusalem
Op-ed: Trump has a way of keeping his promise to move the US embassy without declaring that Jerusalem is Israel’s united capital: A US embassy for Israel in west Jerusalem and a US embassy for Palestine in east Jerusalem.
US President Donald Trump’s visit is approaching with giant steps, accompanied by the occasional coalition commotion: The mudwrestling between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, which is pushing the White House into a formula it hasn't declared—united Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

 

 

What have we come up with this time? Jerusalem—the Jewish people’s eternal capital—a sensitive, strong, challenging and divisive issue. Is there indeed one, united Jerusalem? Jerusalem just as the location of the US embassy? Jerusalem as the sure card in an election? An indivisible Jerusalem, which will perpetuate the “assertion” that there is no partner, as the Palestinians can’t accept it?

 

In my previous article about a month ago, I argued that if we failed to select our important cards by presenting a plan for a peace agreement, Trump would deal the cards as he pleased. In the meantime, it seems that instead of presenting our own plan, we are trying to make Trump keep his election promise to move the American embassy and declare that united Jerusalem is Israel’s capital—a declaration which exceeds that promise. His decision to visit the Western Wall without Netanyahu should make it clear to any sensible person that he has no intention of declaring that united Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

 

Returning the annexed Palestinian villages and neighborhoods to the area designated for Palestine, as the basis for Palestinian Jerusalem, is the solution Israel should propose to Trump (Photo: AFP)
Returning the annexed Palestinian villages and neighborhoods to the area designated for Palestine, as the basis for Palestinian Jerusalem, is the solution Israel should propose to Trump (Photo: AFP)

 

Trump has a way of keeping his promise without binding himself to what Bennett and Netanyahu are trying to impose on him. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem—yes; Jerusalem as Israel’s capital—yes; a united Jerusalem—no. Trump’s escape, with the lack of any other offer that the Palestinians can accept, is a US embassy for Israel in west Jerusalem and a US embassy for Palestine in east Jerusalem.

 

United Jerusalem was not Israel’s capital until the annexation after 1967. It was selected in advance as Israel’s capital not because of its sacredness (it didn’t have a temple when King David chose it), but because it was a territory outside the lands of the hawkish tribes—Judah (David’s tribe) and Benjamin (the tribe of King Saul, who ruled the rest of Israel’s tribes). Just like Washington in the United States, thousands of years later, which is a territory outside the states that make up the US.

 

The unification of Jerusalem, which included dozens of Palestinian villages and neighborhoods that never belonged to it, created a difficult situation: When at least 40 percent of the people who have the right to vote in the municipal elections are Palestinian, a failure to return to a Jewish Jerusalem will lead to a situation in which the election of an Arab mayor in Jerusalem depends only on the Palestinians' ability to bring their voters to the polling stations. This problem, which was created with the annexation of Palestinian territory and population to Jerusalem, is similar to the problem that will develop in the future if we repeat our mistake and annex the Judea and Samaria lands with their population.

 

Returning the Palestinian villages and neighborhoods which were included in Jerusalem to the area designated for Palestine, as the basis for Palestinian Jerusalem—or al-Quds, as the Muslim call it since it became holy in their eyes—and free access to ritual and religious activity for the three religions’ Holy Basin, are the solution that should be proposed to Trump before the 1967 borders principle is applied to Jerusalem as well by a stubborn president who is looking for a deal. This is a better solution for Jerusalem, which will regain its Jewish majority, and it’s the right thing for the implementation of a deal of the kind Trump is looking for.

 

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