Alternative Insight


The Barrier to Mid-East Peace





Part III- The Hidden Agendas

There Must be More to It
Recently elected Israeli President Moshe Katsav has spoken: "Jerusalem is indivisible." President Katsav, in the same interview with Germany's newsmagazine Bild also stated: " Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for three thousand years" and "When the Old City of Jerusalem was under Arab rule, Jews were not allowed to visit the holy places such as the Western Wall."

If this ahistorical view guides Israel's negotiations concerning Jerusalem, then the negotiations cannot be real. Isn't it more accurate to state that the City of David, constructed on a hill below the ancient Jebusite city of Jerusalem, had been the capital of unified Jewish tribes 3000 years ago for the 30 years of King David's reign and ancient Jerusalem had been the capital under King Solomon for another 30 years, that afterwards ancient Jerusalem intermittently served as a capital or center for Jews in southern Judah (and not northern Israel) for one thousand years and that over the centuries some Jews experienced a close identification with the Holy City? Isn't it more accurate to state that Jews had been permitted in most periods of Moslem rule to worship in holy places until Jordan, a country that happened to be Arab, forbid Jews to enter the Holy City in retaliation for Israel expelling a massive Arab population from West Jerusalem and not permitting their return? Are buried stones and speculative history more significant than live human beings whose families inhabited the soil of ancient Jerusalem for generations? Are images of lost structures more important than the reality of operating institutional structures that have functioned for more than a millennium ?


  • Contrary to President Katsav's declarations, the Jerusalem of today has few apparent structures from Jewish biblical Jerusalem that function today.
  • The effort of any party to control all of Jerusalem will invite a chilling terrorism and possibly an uncontrolled violence against an occupying party and other countries of the world.
  • It is geographically plausible to divide Jerusalem populations and the holy sites that are in use today so that each party receives the sectors that contain their peoples, their culture and their present religious constructions.
  • Why does Israel want to incorporate 200,000 Palestinians from East Jerusalem into their care? After all, Israel has refused repatriation of Palestinian refugees to their dispossessed lands.

If Israeli President Katsav can only use uncompromising and exaggerated statements to make a case, and doesn't consider the consequences of his statements, then there must be more to it. If the Palestinian negotiators are unable to define their propositions and make them acceptable to the world community then there must be more to it. The rhetoric of debatable history, religious salvation and holy control disguise the hidden agendas.

Israel's Hidden Agenda
Israel is a physically small and new country with an eager population and big ambitions. It needs more prestige and wants to be viewed as a power broker on the world stage. To gain those perspectives Israel needs a capital city that commands respect, that contains ancient traditions and is recognized as one of the world's most important and leading cities. Almost all of the world's principal countries from Egypt to Germany to Great Britain have as capitals the great cities of the world. And to assure the objectives, there can be only one Jerusalem and it must be the one that contains the Holy City. That's not all.

  • Jerusalem has significant tourism that can be expanded. It can provide new commercial opportunities as an entry to all of the Mid-East. An indivisible Jerusalem is worth a lot of shekels.
  • Israel competes with the United States as the focus of the Jewish people. It needs a unique Jerusalem to gain recognition as the home of Judaism.
  • By controlling all of the holy sites, Israel commands attention from Moslem and Christian leaders. These leaders will be forced to talk with Israel and Israel will have a bargaining advantage in any disputes.
  • Whatever Israel gains the Palestinians are denied. East Jerusalem and its holy sites can greatly benefit a Palestinian economy and affect its legitimacy. Even if Israel agrees to the establishment of a Palestinian state, it will direct its policies to limit the effectiveness of that state and do everything to undermine it. An "indivisible" Jerusalem is part of that effort.
  • West Jerusalem only gives Israel a North/South capital. An indivisible Jerusalem gives Israel a forward look towards an East/West capital or a centralized capital of the land of previous biblical Jewish tribes.
  • The Zionist socialist ideals and the cooperative Kibbutzim received support and sympathy from idealistic world peoples for many years. Israel's attachment to the Holocaust tragedy extended that sympathy and support to much of the world. With the end of the Zionist dream, the decline of kibbutz life and the over-popularizing of the Holocaust, Israel needs a new symbol of identity that captures world attention.

The Palestinian's Hidden Agenda
Israel can use a unique Jerusalem to benefit its economic and political interests. The Palestine Authority needs some sovereignty in Jerusalem for its survival.

  • Without a recognized city as a capital that gives it identity and prestige, Palestine will become a forgotten land mass and slowly fade into history.
  • Income from East Jerusalem and its holy sites will give the Palestine Authority the "bread-and-butter" funds it needs to be financially viable.
  • Palestine needs to control the holy sites to gain continuous support from Moslem and Christian nations.
  • The Palestinians need Jerusalem to sustain the reality that they have inhabited the land for several millennia and deserve recognition of that fact.
  • Just as Israel wants to limit Palestine's progress, the Palestine Authority wants to limit Israel's progress. Obtaining any part of Jerusalem assists the progress of either government.
  • The Palestinians fear that Israeli control of East Jerusalem will eventually mean their displacement from the city and Israeli control of Moslem holy sites will mean the eventual destruction of those sites.

The world community has neglected its obligations towards the city of Jerusalem.
The two contestants can only decide the city's fate from a perspective that considers their own advantages. The weak Palestine Authority has little advantage. It cannot sensibly negotiate with a strong Israel that already has military and civil control of almost all of the city. For fifty years the world has failed to propose a suitable resolution to the Israel/Palestine conflict. This failure has resulted in intensive warfare and the gradual dissolution of the Palestinian people. The world will further suffer from its laxity in forcing respect of UN resolutions concerning Jerusalem and from failing to implement an equitable solution to the Jerusalem situation-- a solution that considers the wants and needs of billions of the world's peoples and not a small portion of them.

august, 2000