Sunday, July 19, 2009

Netanyahu blows off U.S. demand that construction be stopped on a site in occupied East Jerusalem

One of the hotwire issues in U.S.-Israel relations has been the status of Jerusalem. As originally conceived in the 1947 Partition resolution, the holy city was to have the "character of an international city." Until 1967, East Jerusalem was controlled by Jordan. In the 1967 war Israel captured the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and quickly declared that the city was now re-unified and that it was the eternal capital of Israel. Almost off of the world's governments reject Israel's unilateral declaration on the city, which is why there are no foreign embassies there. U.S. diplomacy has proceeded on the principle that a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would require that the city be shared, and that idea is explicitly part of the Clinton parameters, announced in December 2000.

Although the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 states that the U.S. should recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, all U.S. presidents have understood the folly of doing so.

It is going to be hard for the Obama admission to respond to the categorical Netanyahu response without addressing the status of the eastern section of city, which, of course, includes the Old City, where sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims are found. Israel's approach has often been, as it was in Netanyahu's statement of today, to declare that Jerusalem is not negotiable and Israel build what it pleases. If the Obama administration is silent on Jerusalem, it will be making a major mistake in terms of resuscitating U.S. credibility as an honest broker.

Added: American Jewish leaders share Obama's perspective on the Israel's settlements. As a result, outside of fringe groups such as the ZOA, Netanyahu has limited options for mobilizing counter-pressure on the Obama administration.

“There’s a message here for Israel,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of the dovish group J Street and one of the White House meeting participants. “The message is that there is no court of appeals, that the American Jewish community and the president share the same interest.”

1 comment:

Tech said...

I don't think Israel is taking too kindly to Obama telling them they can't build on their own land.