Bintel Blog

How Not To Negotiate Peace

By Daniel Treiman

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The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports:

An adviser to Mahmoud Abbas said the Kotel should be under Palestinian control.

Adnan Husseini, aide to the Palestinian Authority president, said Thursday that Palestinian demands for Israel to cede eastern Jerusalem under any peace accord also includes the Western Wall.

“This is part of Islamic heritage that cannot be given up, and it must be under Muslim control,” Husseini told Israel’s NRG Web site, adding that all of Jerusalem’s Old City should be part of a future Palestinian state. He made similar comments in an interview with Israel Radio.

Husseini, the Palestinian Authority’s “Minister for Jerusalem Affairs” was previously the director of the Islamic Wakf, which effectively controls the Temple Mount (and isn’t known for its respect for Jewish sensibilities). His remarks bring back unhappy memories of how Yasser Arafat made a point at the failed Camp David summit of insisting that the ancient Jewish Temple was actually in Nablus and not Jerusalem.

The reality, of course, is that for both Israelis and Palestinians Jerusalem is a deal-breaker. If either side feels its interests are not being respected vis-a-vis Jerusalem and its holy places, watch out.

Israelis, for their part, have to recognize that Palestinian aspirations cannot be limited to the city’s outer neighborhoods. Any final settlement will likely require difficult Israeli concessions within the city’s “holy basin.” But that’s simply not going to happen unless Palestinians demonstrate that they can be trusted to respect Jewish interests in the holy city (for starters, making sure that stones aren’t raining down on the heads of worshipers of the Western Wall and that Jewish antiquities on the Temple Mount aren’t being wantonly destroyed). When a key Palestinian figure suggests that he cannot even tolerate Israeli sovereignty over the holiest spot in the city’s Jewish Quarter, it doesn’t bode well.


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