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September 24, 2014 / 29 Elul, 5774
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Would PA Allow Jews in Jerusalem?

We must remember, too, that Abbas has said no Jews would be allowed to live anywhere in a Palestinian state.

Tzipi Livni stands on an observation next to the town of Efrat in Gush Etzion, December 19, 2012.

Tzipi Livni stands on an observation next to the town of Efrat in Gush Etzion, December 19, 2012.
Photo Credit: Lior Mizrahi/FLASH90

With Tzipi Livni a possibility to head Israel’s negotiating team in talks with the Palestinian Authority, it is important to review her stance on the future status of Jerusalem – and to investigate what really is holding up all chances of a successful peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

In late 2008, Livni was elected to replace Ehud Olmert as head of the Kadima Party. She then proceeded to fail in her attempt to form a new government under her leadership – and the reason for this was her consent to grant Arab control to parts of holy city. This, together with the economic decrees against the “disadvantaged population,” led the Shas Party to refuse to join her government.

As foreign minister in 2008, Livni promised P.A. chief Mahmoud Abbas that Israel would cede it the entire Atarot airport complex in northern Yerushalayim in the framework of a peace agreement. She repeatedly stated that though she believes strongly in historic Jewish rights to the entire Land of Israel, she also believes in the “right of our children to live in peace” – to which end she was willing to make far-reaching territorial concessions even in Yerushalayim.

Is there any chance of reaching an agreement with the PLO that does not include some form of dividing Jerusalem with Muslims? The answer appears to be negative. Former Israeli ambassador to Canada Alan Baker, of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, has written an important and thorough historic study of the issue, concluding that the current P.A. mindset “clearly render[s] hopeless any possibility of peacefully governing Jerusalem.”

Specifically, Baker writes, standing in the way of an agreement is the Moslems’ refusal to recognize the Jewish people’s religious and historic rights to Yerushalayim, even without accepting these as absolute and exclusively binding.

Just a few months ago, Abbas referred to “the alleged [Jewish] Temple” in Jerusalem, and vowed that “there will be no peace, security, or stability unless [all Israelis are] evacuated from our holy city and the eternal capital of our state.”

“This statement,” Baker wrote, “basically denying any Jewish linkage or right to Jerusalem, uttered by the head of the Palestinian Authority who is considered in the international community to be moderate and reasonable, serves as an example of the tremendous political, historical, psychological, legal, and religious challenge that the issue of Jerusalem poses to the Middle East negotiating process.”

Any agreement regarding Jerusalem, he continued, must be “predicated on absolute acknowledgement of, respect for, and acceptance by each side of the historic and religious rights of the other in Jerusalem. Continued mistrust, attempts to dislodge, undermine or destabilize the other side vis-à-vis its own constituency or the international community, and attempts to delegitimize the integrity or historical rights of the other side would clearly render hopeless any possibility of peacefully governing Jerusalem.”

It is not only Abbas who negates Jewish rights in Jerusalem. A P.A. survey in 2011 found that nearly three-quarters of the respondents – 72 percent – support the denial of thousands of years of Jewish history in Jerusalem.

We must remember, too, that Abbas has said no Jews would be allowed to live anywhere in a Palestinian state.

From Israel’s side, 77 percent told Dahaf public opinion pollsters in December that “Israel could not rely on the Palestinians to ensure freedom of worship” even in the framework of a peace agreement. Interestingly, it is not well-known that non-Muslims are prohibited from entering both Mecca and the center of Medina. Undoubtedly, if this fact were to be exposed more widely, it would dramatically increase the number of Israelis who realize the division of Jerusalem means the end of their visits to the Western Wall – for there is no reason to believe that if Jews may not visit Mecca or Medina, they would be able to visit the Temple Mount or anywhere else in the Old City under Muslim rule.

Ambassador Baker notes in his article that even when Israel supported various internationalization schemes in Jerusalem, this was basically to ensure universal freedom of worship in all holy places, not to give up sovereignty. The Arab sides did not accept even this.

Regarding the Arab refusal to accept the 1947 Partition resolution, historian Shlomo Avineri has written that unlike in the Jewish community, there was no debate within the Arab community: There, “an absolutist position – ‘we have all the rights, the Jews don’t have any right’ – continued to be the foundation of their response…”

And despite all the talk of guaranteeing freedom of worship to all, when Jordan controlled Jerusalem from 1949-1967 Jewish rights of access to holy sites there were brutally denied. Baker notes that 55 synagogues and yeshivot in the Jewish Quarter were either destroyed or desecrated by Jordanian forces; it is also known that thousands of gravestones in Jewish cemeteries were turned into latrine walkways and worse.

Baker makes an important point: “Despite this blatant violation by Jordan of its international commitments pursuant to the 1949 Armistice Agreement, between 1952 and 1967 the U.N. did not consider the question of the status of Jerusalem and Jordan’s violations as being worthy of being placed on its agenda.”

Can it possibly be conceived that if the situation today were reversed, it would not be a major subject of anti-Israel discussion in the U.N.?

In any event, when Israel liberated Jerusalem and other biblical areas in the Six-Day War of 1967, Foreign Minister Abba Eban told the UN, “For twenty years there has not been free access by men of all faiths to the shrines which they hold in unique reverence. This access now exists. Israel is resolved to give effective expression, in cooperation with the world’s great religions, to the immunity and sanctity of all the Holy Places.”

Given the wide gaps in the respective Jewish and Arab positions regarding Jerusalem, there can be only two alternatives: Either Israel weakens and allows its position to be whittled down – or the Jewish people stands strong in its love for its eternal holy city so that it will remain united under Israeli sovereignty. It is up to us.

To learn more about Jerusalem and how to be an ambassador for Jewish Jerusalem, send an e-mail to tours@keepjerusalem.org or visit the Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech website at www.keepjerusalem.org.

About the Author: Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel's minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, is a veteran writer on Jerusalem affairs. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now live in Beit El.


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4 Responses to “Would PA Allow Jews in Jerusalem?”

  1. Tim Upham says:

    Rhetoric is one thing, reality is another. What Abbas is stating is not even in the Palestinian Constitution whatsoever. He is just expressing bad feelings. Also, with the Palestinian Authority 30% dependent on international aid, and on the verge of bankruptcy, at a negotiating meeting it would be very easy to steer him away from it. An independent Palestine will desperately need foreign investment, and the majority of that would be coming from Israel. Because Israel is the Palestinians largest trading partner. Already, Israel and the Palestinians do over U.S. $6 billon dollars worth of business with each other. So Abbas' words are empty and meaningless.

  2. I have resigned from the metuchen edison clegy association. I AM A PAST PRESIDENT. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

    HATIKVAH has been included in every service since I created interfaith holocaust services in 1974 with no objection. N0 ONE HAS EVER WALKED out, sat down OR OBJECTED until recently. With Israel and Jews being attacked throughout the world, I PERSONALLY will and have fought to keep it in. We are living in a world where anti-SEMITISM is rampant especially in Europe where JEWS ARE FLEEING IN MASS to Israel and other countries. Everyone is entitled to their OWN opinion , I stand by mine. Another Holocaust is on the horizon. A nuclear extremist muslim regime would like nothing better than the complete destruction of Israel and if you listen to Morsi all Jews should perish.
    I will be the keynote speaker at another Holocaust event that evening. I refuse to compromise my beliefs or allow the Hatikvah to be disgraced. I am taking my highway to what I believe in. Rabbi DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

  3. THERE MAY BE A PROTEST AGAINST THE IMAM BEING ORGANIZED BY THOSE WHO ARE EXTREMELY ANGRY AT WHAT IS HAPPENING. GREAT PUBLICITY for THE TOWNSHIP OF EDISON N.J.. AND THE J.C.C. I am neither organizing it or will participate as I will be speaking at another synagogue. RABBI ROSENBERG

  4. If you believe a Imam should not be invited to a holocaust program where he will walk out before Hatikvah speak out.

    http://www.aish.com/j/as/The_History_of_Hatikvah.html

    As it states,

    • The British Mandate government briefly banned its performance in 1919 due to Arab anti-Zionist political activity.

    • In 1944, Czech Jews spontaneously sang it at the entry to the Auschwitz-Birkenau gas chamber and, as reported by a member of the Sonderkommando, were beaten by SS guards.

    The link is clear, the Arabs were against Hatikvah before there was Israel or even before the myth of Palestinian people. Furthermore, Jews sang it while being led to their death. How dare anyone allow individuals to leave in protest during Hatikvah with the canard they are commemorating the Holocaust but against the State of Israel. Just keep quoting Dr Martin Luther King, Jr “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism.” RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

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