Is Eastern Jerusalem "Occupied Territory"?

[] Richard L. Cravatts - In characterizing eastern Jerusalem - or any part of Jerusalem, for that matter - as territory that Israel "occupies" but over which it enjoys no sovereignty, the Obama administration is misreading the content and purpose of the 1967 UN Security Council Resolution 242 that suggested an Israeli withdrawal "from territories" it acquired in the Six-Day War. The drafters of Resolution 242 were very precise in creating the statute's language, and never considered Jerusalem to have been "occupied" by Israel. Former U.S. ambassador to the UN Arthur Goldberg, one of the resolution's authors, made this very clear when he wrote some years later that "Resolution 242 in no way refers to Jerusalem, and this omission was deliberate....At no time in [my] many speeches [before the UN] did I refer to East Jerusalem as occupied territory." The Palestinians now insist that Jerusalem must be divided to give them a capital in its eastern portion as the location of their new state. But these have always been points for future negotiations, at least before the State Department gave public expression to its new view that eastern Jerusalem has already been assumed to be the Palestinian capital, and that Jews should no longer build or live there. That view is troubling because it reveals a pattern in which Arabs endow Jerusalem with intense significance to serve purposes of political expediency. Scholar of Islam and Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes observed that when Jordan illegally annexed the West Bank and purged Jerusalem of its Jews from 1949 to 1967, Jerusalem's stature declined. But Israel's recapture of the territory in 1967 changed the political landscape, including an Arab desire for Jerusalem. "The Muslim interest lies not so much in controlling Jerusalem as it does in denying control over the city to anyone else." In The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City, Dore Gold notes that in their desire to accede to Arab requests for a presence and religious sovereignty in Jerusalem, Western states and Islamic apologists may actually ignite the jihadist impulses that they seek to dampen with their well-intentioned, but defective, diplomacy. The establishment of the Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem is the first important step in the long-term strategy to rid the Levant of Jews and reestablish the House of Islam in Palestine. "Jerusalem's recapture is seen by some as one of the signs that 'the Hour' and the end of times are about to occur," Gold suggested. "And most importantly, because of these associations, it is the launching pad for a new global jihad powered by the conviction that this time the war will unfold according to a pre-planned religious script, and hence must succeed." Far from creating a political situation in which both Israelis and the Palestinians feel they have received equal benefits, such negotiations and final agreements on Jerusalem would have precisely the opposite effect. Those in the West who are urging Israel "to redivide Jerusalem by relinquishing its holy sites," Gold cautioned, "may well believe that they are lowering the flames of radical Islamic rage, but in fact they will only be turning up those flames to heights that have not been seen before."

2009-08-14 06:00:00

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