Cross-posted to my RootedCosmopolitan blog.
This diary is meant to help clarify one of the more confusing points around the Israeli-Arab conflict. Both sides claim Jerusalem as their capital. And the more conservative elements in Israel and among my fellow Jews, is that Jerusalem will never again be divided, and other words to that effect.
What is left out in all this the question of what exactly do you mean by Jerusalem?
One of the less recognized realities, even among many of my American Jewish brethren is that when the Israeli government say Jerusalem, they are not talking about the city of Jerusalem as it was defined in 1947 or in 1967. Since 1967 and the occupation of the West Bank, Israeli governments have incorporated areas of what had always been considered the West Bank into ever expanding definitions of "Jerusalem.” By trying declaring this phony enlarged "Jerusalem" as sacrosanct and indivisible and solely Israel's they would be denying any hope for peace. If they were serious.
Let us look at some maps to see what I am talking about.
1. This map shows various boundaries and definitions of what one or another political force called "Jerusalem" between 1923 and 2000:
The orange line shows the municipal boundary of "Jerusalem" as defined during the British Mandate period from 1923-1947. Everything outside of that would be the "West Bank."
From 1947-1967, Israel including "West Jerusalem" was defined by the gray area bounded by the dotted green line, while "East Jerusalem" expanded under Jordanian rule to include the area in yellow bounded by the red line. Everything in the tan remained "West Bank."
Notice the small white box near the center. That is the walled "Old City" which within it contains Jewish and Arab and other Quarters, the traditional Jewish Temple Mount, on which are Mosques, and adjacent to which is the Western Wall.
From 1967-1993, Israel further redefined "Jerusalem" out to the boundary defined by the blue line, absorbing much land and villages from what had been the "West Bank" into a new definition of "Jerusalem."
So which Jerusalem is Netanyahu referring to as indivisible, and which one is Abbas referring to when he declares it the capital of Palestine?
2. This map shows the situation as of 2000, roughly the period of Clinton failed attempt to make peace during Camp David 2, with the then current borders, villages and settlements:
The blue triangles refer to newish Israeli Jewish settlements and the peach shapes refer to traditional Arab neighborhoods. Some such as French Hill, Gilo and the not shown Mount of Olives area had Jewish population in the pre-1947 period. And others can certainly be construed as West-ish such as Ramot.
But again note the extent of the black line, redefining a greater "Jerusalem," recognized only by Israel and not by the international community including the United States. Officially, for the rest of the world, everything outside of the green line and inside the black line is still the "West Bank." But that is what Israeli leader mean when they refer to "Jerusalem."
3. This map shows the situation in 2010:
Notice the many new and expanded settlements done or planned for, including for example those in the Arab neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan that have been most in the news lately. These are settlement and occupations within "Jerusalem" where the Israeli right is creating facts on the ground to redefine what is "Jerusalem."
So when they say Jerusalem is indivisible, to conjure up warm feelings of Jerusalem as the historic city for all Jews worldwide (next year in Jerusalem as we in the Diaspora say every Passover), be aware that they are deliberately distorting what is meant by Jerusalem, and what is by all that is right and proper Palestinian. It certainly goes way beyond what the the word Jerusalem conjures up in the average American Jewish mind and heart.
But notice also, off to the right, the area called "Ma'ale Adumim," extending out beyond even the broken red-line demarcating on this map the Israeli-only defined definition of "Jerusalem." That is another huge problem for peace.
4. This map shows greater Jerusalem with settlement bloc known as Ma'ale Adumim.
On this map, the dark purple represent the Israeli-only defined greater Jerusalem. The yellow is the current major Israeli settlement bloc known as Ma'ale Adumim. By any definition, it is in the West Bank. Its strategic purpose is to create and Israeli controlled bulge towards Jordan, effectively dividing the West Bank into two sections (to the north and south), providing a more defensible buffer on the assumption that there will never really be peace.
Israel is roughly the size and shape of New Jersey. Israel is just 8,630 square miles, 290 miles in length and about 85 miles across at the widest point. Israel is very small:
And it is only 6.3 miles wide at its narrowest area near Tel Aviv. Short distance in general, and very easy to cut in half or into thirds, or other small pieces in particular.
From an Israeli point of view, the de facto cutting of the West Bank in half with the Ma'ale Adumim extension beyond Jerusalem is a strategic counter to the narrow isthmus to the north in Israel where the large coastal cities of Tel Aviv and Netanyahu are just 11 and 9 miles from the West Bank border. This is what Netanyahu means when he says Israel will not go back to indefensible borders.
But of course, that means an unacceptable lack of integrity and continuity for a Palestinian state. So in addition to the issue of what parts of "Jerusalem" stay Israeli and which are Palestine, the issue of the large settlement blocks, notably Ma'ale Adumim and Ariel to the north, are the big geographic obstacles.
And that is what is meant by "mutually agreed swaps."
Fortunately, for those who actually seek peace (meaning not Netanyahu and the current Israeli government) there is already a detailed draft that has already been worked out by Israelis and Palestinians. That is the so-called Geneva Accord which has worked out even details regarding Jerusalem and all the other issues.
There is no need for anymore of an endless peace process. Fatah's Saeb Erekat is absolutely correct to say that there could be a peace agreement in two days. If those who actually want peace will take charge. And yes, the onus is on Israel, as the occupier, dealing from a position of strength.