Roni Aloni-Sadovnik
Photo: Haim Tzach
'Any division of Jerusalem will bring about city's destruction'
Photo: Haim Tzach

Dividing Jerusalem won't bring peace

United city must be divided into administrative districts

A quick glance at the platforms of all major parties shows that all agree that the Jerusalem must be divided. The only question now is: Should we make a nice cut with a scissors, or rip it apart with a knife. Should we make the break quickly to minimize the pain, or slowly, to get used to the idea.


Yet there is a truth that has yet to be spoken: Any division of Jerusalem will bring about the city's destruction. Maybe, after 3,000 years of blood letting and destruction, the time has come to understand that the road to peace does not run through Jerusalem.


Tough problem


To me, Jerusalem can be compared to a baby, with two women each claiming to be the baby's true mother. Even the wisest of all men would have trouble finding a solution to this clash.


King Solomon recognized that the true mother is the one prepared to save her son from the sword, and to give it to the other woman so the child's life would be saved. The fictitious mother, who has no true love in her heart for the baby, would prefer to see the child die, rather than live with the true mother.


Before a group of men gather at Camp David or some other resort to decide on the type of knife with which to cut up Jerusalem, we would do well to first consider the benefits and drawbacks of dividing the city, and to consider models of other similar cities around the world that form the flashpoints of other bi-national conflicts.


Divided cities


In the city of Nicosia, for example, they decided to build a wall to separate Turkish and Greek Cypriots, but this failed to solve the economic or political aspects of the conflict between the two peoples. And in Berlin, the wall brought no positive results, and was eventually toppled by residents themselves.


Belfast, Ireland never had a wall running through it, but woe the Catholic child who mistakenly wandered onto a Protestant street. And residents of Alsace-Lorraine waffled for years between German and French sovereignty, until they decided to divide border towns such that German residents would retain their ties to Germany, and French residents would remain connected to France. No physical border separated the two.


United we stand


Jerusalem must learn from this last model and adopt an appropriate one. Such a model could allow the city to remain united for ever with regard to municipal services and a regional municipality, in which Arab Jerusalemites would retain their Jordanian or Palestinian connections, and Israelis would retain their connection to Israel. The everyday running of the city would not be connected to any nationality.


Dividing the city into four quarters, each of whom conducts its affairs independently, is an answer that would allow the city to remain physically united but would separate the two national groups into two sovereignties.


Metropolitan Jerusalem would include Abu Dis, A-Zaim and Azariya, but these areas would be designated neighborhoods whose residents maintain their national connections to Palestine or Jordan.


Administrative division


Including all these areas into metropolitan Jerusalem will mean joining them together under one administrative roof, together with Mevasseret Tzion, Nataf, Gevaot, Maaleh Adumim, Jerusalem-area kibbutzim and moshavim and other towns. We could neutralize opposition to these annexations by declaring each town its own administrative district, and by giving economic independence to each neighborhood.


Administrative division of the new Greater Jerusalem into administrative districts will be based on the successful experiments of dividing and governing through community administrations.


Newly-annexed areas will also be declared neighborhoods, and will be run locally, with limited connection to the general municipality.

Neighborhood borders will be determined by each regions ability to sustain itself economically (each neighborhood will include public buildings, institutions and industrial areas.




Neighborhoods with a specific connection to Israel will enjoy government funding, as they do today, where as neighborhoods important to other groups will rely on funding from those countries. At the same time, each neighborhood will contribute to the cost of running the roof-body municipality, which will concentrate on general development, setting policy and regional infrastructure.


In the neighborhood puzzle surrounding Jerusalem, inner city neighborhoods will be defined separately, while minimizing borders, and these will enjoy tax-free status, similar to that of Gibraltar.


The municipality will receive taxes from all neighborhoods and will, and will delegate other areas of authority to the neighborhoods, and will allow each area to initiate its own building projects, and to seek out donations to fund them.


It will also provide infrastructure services and control that are too expensive to leave in the hands of individual neighborhood councils, and will act with jurisdiction to decide disputes between conflicting councils.


Neighborhood councils


Each neighborhood will enjoy administrative sovereignty, and councilors will be elected directly by residents. The character of each neighborhood, its culture, as well as the division of public buildings and planning resources will be decided in keeping with the will of local residents, and by means of a city-wide council of neighborhoods.


And the Jerusalem city council (in its current form) will be disbanded, to be replaced with a roof-body organization made up of the council heads from each neighborhood, who will then choose a chairman for a four-year term.


Roni Aloni-Sadovnik is a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem


פרסום ראשון: 05.29.06, 17:35
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