Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jerusalem in International Diplomacy

From The Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs.
Jerusalem in International Diplomacy
Dore Gold

Executive Summary

The July 2000 Camp David Summit was clearly a diplomatic failure. It resulted largely, though not exclusively, from the insurmountable gap between Israel and the PLO over the issue of Jerusalem. Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Bill Clinton insisted on holding the summit apparently assuming that the diplomatic gaps between the parties could ultimately be bridged. Were they equipped with a more accurate assessment of the positions of the principal parties on the Jerusalem question, they might have anticipated that the summit would not succeed. For the PLO, the various Clinton proposals were a non-starter. But for Israel, as well, Barak's readiness to even consider concessions on Jerusalem led to the collapse of parliamentary support for his government, a massive public demonstration against the U.S. proposals, and finally, when combined with Palestinian violence, Barak's loss in national elections by an unprecedented majority to Ariel Sharon.

Israel suffered from a more fundamental diplomatic failure of its own, beyond its misreading of the Palestinian position on Jerusalem. The structure of the peace process, whereby Israel has focused all its energies on an abstract, albeit worthy, goal of peace, while the Palestinians' diplomatic energies were concentrated on a concrete goal of achieving a Palestinian state with a capital in Jerusalem, inevitably led the negotiations in the direction of the party with the more articulated objective -- namely, the Palestinian goal of sovereignty in Jerusalem. This diplomatic asymmetry led to a clear-cut erosion of Israel's own claims.

Yet, a careful reading of the historical record of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem and an understanding of the international legal rights of the Jewish people to their historical capital might have led negotiators to take a stronger stand on behalf of Israel's rights in the city. This study was conceived with the purpose of providing both a more realistic understanding of the actual positions of the principal parties to the Jerusalem question and a deeper appreciation of the rights Israel possesses in Jerusalem for any future negotiations.
Read the whole thing.

In his conclusion, Dore notes:
At least the failed Clinton Plan and the Israeli proposals at the Taba talks did not bind future Israeli governments or U.S. administrations, leaving open the possibility of new diplomatic alternatives. Only by avoiding premature negotiation over an unbridgeable issue such as Jerusalem can the U.S., Israel, and the Palestinians stabilize the volatile situation that has emerged and restore hope that a political process can be resumed in the future.
Speaking of premature negotiation, Olmert still has one more day in which to give away the store...

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