A new study published by the World Jewish Congress suggests there may be a way to resolve the problem of who rules Jerusalem that could satisfy both Jew Arab.
The study, conducted by British Jewish historian Martin Gilbert, indicates that Jerusalem could remain Israel’s undivided capital while maintaining Palestinian links.
Despite the decision by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to postpone discussions on Jerusalem until final-status talks on Palestinian autonomy begin autonomy begin in 1996, the issue continues to be an explosive one in Israeli- Palestinian relations.
Israel has declared Jerusalem to be the eternal, undivided capital of the state, while Palestinians claim it as a future capital of their state.
After examining the historical and political issues surrounding Jerusalem, Gilbert – the official biographer of Winston Churchill and author of numerous books on the Holocaust and other Jewish topics – writes in his work that he foresees “a political formula and a reality on the ground, acceptable to both sides.”
For Gilbert, the formula involves keeping an undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital while allowing Arab residents institutional ties to the emerging Palestinian Authority on the west Bank and Gaza.
“If the pace and direction of the current autonomy agreements is maintained,” he writes, “there ought to be a political way forward that could satisfy both Israeli and Palestinian aspirations, while maintaining the current growth and expansion of all neighborhoods.”
Under a united Jerusalem, he writes, the Arabs of eastern Jerusalem “could obtain status and self-governing instruments.”
In his study, Gilbert says that Israeli and Palestinian officials have met on several occasions this year to exchange views on the future status of Jerusalem.