Monday, September 29, 2008

Olmert Ties East Jerusalem To Golan

Haaretz reports on an interview the irrepressible Ehud Olmert gave to Yedioth Aharonoth
Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in remarks published Monday that Israel would have to withdraw from East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights if it was serious about making peace with the Palestinians and Syria.

..."Ariel Sharon spoke about painful costs and refused to elaborate," Olmert told the daily. "I say, we have no choice but to elaborate. In the end of the day, we will have to withdraw from the most decisive areas of the territories. In exchange for the same territories left in our hands, we will have to give compensation in the form of territories within the State of Israel."

"I think we are very close to an agreement," Olmert added. [emphasis added]
While Aluf Benn sees this as Olmert's epiphany is too little, too late, David Hazony has a different perspective, as Olmert runs counter to what has been considered the national concensus on both the Golan and Jerusalem. Hazony addresses the logic--or lack thereof--in dividing Jerusalem, in terms of the continuing integration of 'East' and 'West' Jerusalem and the problem of maintain a true border:

On the ground, Jerusalem is not a city you can divide. The Arab neighborhoods of “East” Jerusalem are spotted all over the northern, northwestern, and southern parts of the city. And all across the “East” there are big and bustling Jewish neighborhoods as well. The new rapid-transit system being built will further integrate the city, passing through both Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. New roads and commercial centers have obliterated the old green line, which, unlike in the one separating the West Bank from Israel, no longer appears on maps and is scarcely a memory now. My own neighborhood, Ramot, straddles the line. The only way I could tell which side I was on was by looking in the map of Jerusalem in the World Book Encyclopedia.

But there is another reason why Jerusalem is not going to be divided. The Arabs of Eastern Jerusalem are mostly non-citizens, but unlike in the rest of the West Bank, the vast majority carry blue ID cards — just like Jews — which enable them to travel freely, and therefore find work, throughout Jerusalem and Israel. When Israel unilaterally closed the doors to the Gaza Strip, it was called a “siege.” What Palestinian government will have the strength to set up a border cutting East Jerusalem off from West? None, of course: This will be a weak regime, and getting weaker, and any Palestinian government will insist that Israel let the Palestinians keep crossing the border freely, which is something Israel will never do, any more than it allows Jordanians or Egyptians to travel unrestricted in Israel.

The problem used to be being stuck with Olmert. Now the issue is becoming being stuck with the results of his last minute actions.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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