-by David Parsons (From ICEJ)
The Obama administration’s outlandish demands that east Jerusalem be included in a total freeze on Jewish settlement activity has once again brought to the fore the thorniest issue in the Israeli-Arab conflict – the fate of Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was genuinely caught off guard in May when US President Barack Obama began openly insisting on a complete halt to all Jewish building in the disputed territories. It took a few weeks for the Netanyahu government to find its footing on the issue and begin issuing assurances that discreet negotiations with Washington would soon work out a deal allowing some continued growth in the settlements.
But then the US State Department twice summoned newly-accredited Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren to deliver formal censures over the Jewish housing project slated for the Shepherd hotel near the Arab neighborhood of Sheik Jarrah, and the demolition of illegal Arab houses in the same vicinity. Israeli officials were surprised once again, this time by the cheeky bid to extend the building freeze to east Jerusalem. Recovery from this latest setback is still in process.
To be fair, this is not the first American administration to issue twisted directives on Jerusalem. US policy on Jerusalem has long been a morass of legal absurdity. In but one example, for any American citizens born here, the US State Department simply stamps their passports as “Jerusalem,” refusing to also designate it as being in “Israel.”
This evidences the astonishing fact that Washington has never recognized any part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Though US officials meet with their Israeli counterparts there all the time, even the predominantly Jewish western side of town has never been granted de jure recognition.
State Department officials often trip over themselves trying to explain this bizarre policy, and always fall back on the empty mantra that “Jerusalem should remain undivided, but is subject to negotiation.”
This position has essentially granted the Arabs a veto over the US power of recognition, when in turn influences the views of other nations worldwide regarding the Israeli capital. And the sad truth is that the longer the “Question” of Jerusalem has been left open, the larger that question has become. It has reached the point that claims which did not even exist before the city’s reunification in 1967 are now attaching to her, and Jerusalem has become the capital of everyone else except the Jews.
Thus at the Fatah General Assembly in Bethlehem in August, the largest Palestinian faction declared that Jerusalem is "the eternal capital of Palestine, the Arab world and the Islamic and Christian worlds."
Capital of the Arab world? Capital of Islam?
The Arabs and Muslims had centuries to make Jerusalem their capital, but never did. It was always considered a ‘backwater’ provincial town when in Arab or Muslim hands, as evidenced by the fact that only one Muslim ruler visited Jerusalem during the two decades it was in Jordanian hands from 1948 through 1967.
The city has truly been the capital of only one nation – the Jewish commonwealth – based on an historical, spiritual and cultural attachment that dates back 3,000 years. Sure, it served as the capital of a short-lived Crusader kingdom, but no matter what Fatah says, there are no Christians seriously clamoring to revive that claim today – at least not yet.
IN ITS RECENT machinations, the Obama administration has managed to expose not only the legal morass of US policy on Jerusalem, but its utter moral bankruptcy as well. For this particular president to demand that Jews cannot build in eastern Jerusalem is shocking!
Now he may argue that continued Jewish building might prejudice the outcome of negotiations. But so does continued Arab building! After all, both sides lay claim to east Jerusalem, and even-handedness therefore requires either that all can build or none can build.
Otherwise, you are validating the bitter anomaly that for a mere 19 years of its long history, east Jerusalem was Judenrein – rendered so by the force of Arab arms.
This stands in sharp contrast to the rest of the city’s long and glorious past. Whenever the Bible speaks of Jerusalem, from the time the Lord chose the city through the heart of King David (II Chronicles 6), it is speaking of what we know today as east Jerusalem. None of these many verses of Scripture refer to western Jerusalem, because that portion of the modern city only arose within the past 100 years. And this same scared Book promises that the Lord “will again choose Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 2:12)
May that day come speedily!
The writer serves as media director for the International
Christian Embassy Jerusalem
This article was first published in the September 2009 issue of
The Jerusalem Post Christian Edition
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Baruch atem b'Shem, Yeshua