Academics wrestle with ramifications of dividing Jerusalem

By Stan Goodenough, Jerusalem Newswire

A think-tank whose earlier recommendations underpinned the offer made by at least one leftist Israeli leader to “share” Jerusalem with the as yet non-existent “Palestine” is reportedly drafting a document identifying some of the enormous complexities that will have to be dealt with if Israel’s capital is truly to be put on the chopping block.

The Olmert government and other politicians who have expressed a willingness to consider dividing up Jerusalem in recent months have also been encouraged on this course by recommendations of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies (JIIS).

Now, according to the website of the Israeli daily Ha’aretz Sunday, the institute is a whole lot less sure than it once was of the feasibility, or even possibility, of performing the kind of surgery insisted upon by the international community, which rejects the Jews’ exclusive claim to Jerusalem.

How to separate or cut in half a city the Bible describes as having been made into an “immovable rock” – these are the thoughts currently occupying the JIIS.

Issues entangling these egg-heads have little to do with the religious or nationalistic sensibilities of either Jews or Arabs.

Far more mundane matters – health benefits, unemployment benefits, pensions and welfare stipends – are throwing spanners in the works.

JIIS Director-General Ora Ahimeir explained that “Jerusalem functions as a united city for 40 years, twice as long as the period when it was divided between Israel and Jordan.

“Separating from the Arab neighborhoods, even with an agreement, will not be easy. It involves complex issues of international and Israeli law, questions of rights and practical problems with regard to both the separated areas and the city from which they will separate.”

Hundreds of thousands of Arabs living in those parts of the city that are now on the table have been enjoying most of the constitutional rights of regular Israeli citizens.

However, “the sweeping cancelation of social services, allowances, the right to receive health services and other rights associated with the withdrawal of permanent residency status [from these Arabs] will provide strong grounds for a claim of violation of the right to an honorable livelihood.”

Israel will be expected to cough up to compensate these people as it was meant to (but so far has not) compensated the Jews brutally uprooted from Gaza more than two years ago.

The JIIS, which describes its role as being to “illuminate the difficulties and to put all the information on the table so that all the implications are clear” to Israel’s decision makers, goes so far as to suggest they indeed prepare to pay such compensation.

October 21, 2007 | 2 Comments »

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