The Holy City, Divided?

Last summer I stared in shock and disbelief at my coreligionists in their orange t-shirts, as they pleaded for and then mourned over a Philistine territory. I casually shrugged off the concern of so many right-wing American Zionists over the strategy Ariel Sharon was taking, and dismissed their consternation as wishful thinking for continuing to advocate for an untenable position, the dream of a Greater Israel. I figured, and I still believe, that the Israelis know better than me on what and where to negotiate, directly or unilaterally.
But though many of us in the Diaspora may mock Zionism and even the State of Israel itself, there is one city under her jurisdiction that many of us feel much more invested in, and give her proper reverence. And now, the State of Israel may be preparing to divide her. If so, all the pain–of the settlers from unilateral withdrawals, the Zionists, and the Israelis who had to remove and comfort them–will be our own.
The AP reports,

May 5, 2006 — JERUSALEM – Israel’s new government is drawing up a blueprint for dividing Jerusalem – a once-inconceivable notion – giving the Palestinians nearly all the Arab neighborhoods while holding onto Jewish areas and disputed holy shrines.
Otniel Schneller, an architect of the plan, described it in interviews this week with The Associated Press, giving the clearest picture yet of how Israel plans to separate from the Palestinians, abandoning most of the West Bank.
“We will not divide Jerusalem, we will share it,” he said.
Most of Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods would go to the Palestinians, he said. “Those same neighborhoods will, in my assessment, be central to the makeup of the Palestinian capital . . . al-Quds,” Schneller said, calling Jerusalem by its Arabic name.
Israel would keep Jerusalem’s Old City with its shrines sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians alike – an unacceptable plan to Palestinians, particularly if carried out unilaterally.
Still, with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert determined to draw Israel’s final borders by 2010, likely without waiting for Palestinian agreement, a division of Jerusalem looks realistic for the first time.

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“And to Jerusalem, your city, may you return in compassion, and may you rest within it, as you have spoken.”

6 thoughts on “The Holy City, Divided?

  1. Under this plan, Israel would keep the whole Old City, so what’s the problem? The outlying neighborhoods (Jewish and Arab alike) are only “Jerusalem” because someone designated them as such in the 20th century. The municipal boundaries of Jerusalem are huge, extending all the way to Bethlehem.

  2. BZ,
    That’s only true if this is the final draft. I fear this may be merely a starting position. To get everyone used to the idea of dividing Jerusalem.

  3. I despise fundamentalism in any form, but I can’t help but wonder if there is some connection between those who mock Zionism and Israel, and what we are now seeing as regards Yerushalayim.
    I fear we cannot have it both ways, and perhaps we should think things through a bit more fully the next time we feel the need to ‘mack’ Zionism or Israel.
    But hey, that’s just my two shekels worth.

  4. This whole Jerusalem thing is just a mark of how people who don’t live in Israel have no idea what really goes on here. Jerusalem is poor and hasn’t a wide enough tax base, and discriminates agains the Palestineans who don’t even have Israeli citizenship but can’t leave the city to the west bank because then they would lose the right to return to the city. The civil rights problems in J should interest us more than Israeli control over Um Tubba or Sho’afat.

  5. Jerusalem already is divided. Just not the muncipality. And the first poster is right — what is Jerusalem today is because the municipality expanded the borders.

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