Shall We Revisit Jerusalem Corpus Separatum?

I’m comfortable bringing this up at Ricochet. I wouldn’t be at other websites. At Ricochet, members are smart enough to know that asking a question isn’t a declarative statement and raising an issue for discussion is not to be confused with a position taken.

The fate of Israel is a topic subject to extreme political correctness. To many, one is either for the existence of a Jewish controlled Israel or one is not, with labels of good and evil associated with the answer, complete with accusations of treason toward causes and religions as well as false claims of associations with enemies. These reactions can occur just for asking a question. I know that won’t happen here. Ricochet exists for this very sort of discussion.

I have always held a theory that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict boils down to one very small area – East Jerusalem. The Old City. The theory seems to have held water. It does not matter what the Jews offer geographically to the Arabs — the Palestinian bombs continue. Israel has ceded many other lands – Sinai, West Bank, Gaza – each with the hope that fighting will stop. Yet the Palestinian bombs continue. The bombing continues because that’s not the land the Arabs want.  They want the Holy Land.

On the Israeli side, that they are willing to cede — and already have ceded — other lands suggests that the object of their negotiation is the retention of East Jerusalem as well.

While I have not seen such a poll and do wish that a reputable company would take one, I predict that if Israelis were asked if they could live with a peace where the Arabs control East Jerusalem the answer would be no. I predict that if Palestinians were asked if they could live with a peace where the Jews control East Jerusalem, the answer would be no.

There are two irrelevant discussions often held regarding land ownership – who was there first and who won the last war. Both are easily supplanted by a particular reality – land ownership will be determined by who has the ability to win the next war. Peace is nothing more than a period of time where we can stop people from fighting the next war.

The problem is that we can’t seem to stop Palestinians and Jews from fighting the next war so long as one or the other controls Jerusalem.

Even the world community remains split on the issue. While Israel has declared Jerusalem their official capital, only America recognizes the proclamation, while the rest of the world has rejected it. No country, not even America, has an embassy there.

Western Asia has proven to be an historical problem regarding land ownership because we deal not just with the passions of nationalism, which can fade after a defeat in war (although not always quickly); In Western Asia, we deal with the more supercharged passion of religion. The politics of war are secondary to religious fate in the mind of the religious warrior. For him or her, the land serves a higher purpose than resources for living. The land involves a promise from God.

In 1948, as modern Israel was being created, there was a proposal within the UN Partition Plan known as “Jerusalem Corpus Separatum.” Recognizing that Jerusalem is holy to three large religions, the proposal was to make Jerusalem the first international city administered by the United Nations.

Rather than live with the idea that one religion or cultural identity owned Jerusalem to the exclusion of others, everyone would own it. There is an important psychological distinction that should be made: Do not think of Jerusalem as “no one” owning it or the U.N. owning it. To be palatable, everyone must own it. Access to it must be maintained.

One issue that could drive revisiting Jerusalem Corpus Separatum is the futility of other solutions. The fact that this land has been conquered and re-conquered so many times can be offered as proof that all solutions are temporary. Some generation of people holds the record for creating the longest lasting peace there, but it certainly isn’t ours. Who among us is not tired of the fighting?  What Israeli or Palestinian wishes to live with this kind of tension, fear, and death?

We would do well as a generation to serve God and mankind by creating a more lasting peace, or at the very least a more peaceful situation than exists today.

As stated, all peace is temporary and based upon the ability of those who govern to stop the next fight from occurring. The Jews and the Arabs see in the other someone they can wage a war against. If Jerusalem were an international city, both the Jews and the Arabs would have to calculate their chances in waging war against the other 190 countries that control the U.N. That seems a less likely fight to pick than against one another.

I’m mindful of one fear of the solution: Transforming the U.N. into a territorial governorship, with all the slippery slope arguments that can be made from there. While we should discuss that, let’s make that discussion secondary to the first, or we risk never having the first:

Would making Jerusalem an international city stop the violence between Israel and the Palestinians?

  1. Guruforhire

    I agree with your assessment of the problem.  I don’t think either side would accept it.  I don’t think Israel has any faith in the UN and nor should they, and Palestinians won’t accept it because they have no reason too.  It gets them nothing.  They already have guaranteed access.

  2. Tommy De Seno
    C
    Guruforhire: I agree with your assessment of the problem.  I don’t think either side would accept it.  I don’t think Israel has any faith in the UN and nor should they, and Palestinians won’t accept it because they have no reason too.  It gets them nothing.  They already have guaranteed access. · 5 minutes ago

    I think you are right about their not accepting it.  I didn’t address it and I should have: I’m talking about imposing this.  Would they stop fighting one another if we did?

  3. Mafuta Kizola

    The first problem is that the same UN pass routine anti-Israel resolutions, giving them the one thing Israel prizes the most is not a good call.

    The second problems is that UN peacekeeping is hilariously incompetent, so unless US troops occupy Jerusalem, the place is going to be in Hamas hands in double quick time.

    The third problem is that at the level passions have reached, I don’t see it impossible that Hamas decides one morning to blow up the Western Wall, radical Islamist have already destroyed Hindu Shrines in Afghanistan and have no problem razing heretical Muslim sites. Giving them a hint of control over the holiest place of Judaism is going to get the crazy up to eleven.

    Unfortunately there are not nice choices, Israel must remain in control of Jerusalem and annex it. Furthermore I don’t believe that once in control of the Holy City Hamas is not going to continue pushing for “From the River to the Sea”, the war is not going to end and Tel-Aviv is next.

  4. Scott R

    Only the Jews would maintain Jerusalem as a true “international city”, respectful of all faiths and cultures.

    An agreement that established the U.N. as protector of Jerusalem would be respected by the Israeli’s but not the Palestinians, just as the agreement that established the U.N. as protector of southern Lebanon was respected by Israel but not Hezbollah. Before long – a year, 5 years, 20 years — Islamists would over-run Jerusalem and the U.N. would do nothing, as in Lebanon.

    Also, Arabs had amazingly little interest in the Holy Land prior to the Jews “making the desert bloom.” Someone at the Weekly Standard (can’t remember who) a few years ago likened the situation to a guy who sells you an old, seemingly-worthless antique car, which you then tirelessly transform into a priceless showpiece, and he gripes and stamps his feet forevermore that you ripped him off and he should get it back.  

  5. Larry3435

    The “Palestinians” (whoever that is) don’t care about East Jerusalem.  Israel has already offered them a state with East Jerusalem as its capitol, and the Dome of the Rock / Western Wall under international control.  The response to that offer was the second Intifada.

    The “Palestinians” want two things.  Hamas wants whatever their Iranian masters tell them to want.  Right now, that is to distract Israel (and the rest of the world) from the Iranian nuclear threat.  The rest of the Arabs in Palestine, Egypt and elsewhere mostly want an Arab state that stretches from the Jordan river to the sea, and where the only Jews are corpses.  I don’t think Israel is going to agree to that.  There are some Arabs willing to live in peace, side by side with Jews.  But not enough, and when not speaking for the Western cameras they wisely keep quiet about it.

  6. Guruforhire

    I think imposing it means we fight both of them.  I mean the israelis are just like us, just as modern and are an entirely battle hardened society, and I think they are so far into a bunker that we would be just new targets.  The palestinians will just keep throwing bodies at it until we get tired from killing them.  Plus its not imposable, because there is no credible group to impose it.  The UN will just kick the israelis out and watch casually as palestinian rockets fly over head.

    Tommy De Seno

    Guruforhire: I agree with your assessment of the problem.  I don’t think either side would accept it.  I don’t think Israel has any faith in the UN and nor should they, and Palestinians won’t accept it because they have no reason too.  It gets them nothing.  They already have guaranteed access. · 5 minutes ago

    I think you are right about their not accepting it.  I didn’t address it and I should have: I’m talking about imposing this.  Would they stop fighting one another if we did? · 16 minutes ago

  7. Guruforhire

    I think the Israelis should sell jeruselum to the pope.

    I think thats probably if we were to put it outside of the Israelis control the best available option.

  8. Trace

    I don’t think it resolves anything Tommy. The conflict is deeper than that. It would place a World historical site at tremendous risk with no substantial benefit. The only true resolution will come when some generation of Palestinians realizes that they will never eradicate Israel and that there is more to be gained from seeking economic prosperity than living in spiteful, self-immolating misery. They have to accept defeat.

  9. Richard Fulmer
    Tommy De Seno: I have always held a theory that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict boils down to one very small area – East Jerusalem.  The Old City.   The theory seems to have held water. 

    On what do base your belief that the Palestinians would be willing to live in peace with the Jews if they were given East Jerusalem?  Why do you not take the Palestinians at their word when they say – endlessly, passionately, violently - they want the destruction of the Jews?

  10. Mafuta Kizola
    Guruforhire: I think the Israelis should sell jeruselum to the pope.

    I think thats probably if we were to put it outside of the Israelis control the best available option. · 11 minutes ago

    Edited 11 minutes ago

    Are the Swiss Guards up to the task ?

  11. Margaret Sarah

    I think Richard hits it. Muslim authorities control the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem, and they have been protected. And East Jerusalem (which before 1947 was the Jewish sector of Jerusalem) was offered to the Palestinians in negotiations that were broken off and followed by the intifada. The elimination of “the Zionist entity” is the stated (written) goal of Hamas and Fatah. That means the whole state of Israel.

    About the Pope taking control–of course the Vatican is not set up for such activities. But in addition, Jewish archeologists have tried for years to gain access to the Jewish catacombs in Rome and the Vatican, which has control of them, has turned them down.  

  12. Israel P.

    NO. NO. NO.

    This is not a question of physical security. “Solve” that and it’s still NO.

    (I have read nothing but the headline, nor do I need to. My wife and children are not negotiable either.)

  13. Leslie Watkins

    Partition was imposed. Impose Jerusalem as a, quote, international city, and all you’ll do is justify every moment of Palestinian incivility since 1948. My view is, the various groups of men who overlord Palestinian citizens don’t want a Palestinian state. They want to rule the world. That said, I’m of a mind to accept the imposition of a Palestinian state (not including Jerusalem) by the UN but only if the world then says, okay, it’s yours now; you own it. Any more aggression on your part, and we will come down hard, extremely hard, and we won’t let ourselves be deterred by your use of women and children as shields. And then follow through on that promise, immediately after the first rocket is fired, and you can be sure that it will be fired. Such action would quell the barbarism far more than acceding to what would no doubt be endless Palestinian demands.

  14. ConservativeWanderer

    First, find me Muslim leaders that would accept this and stop bombing Israel if we do this.

    Then we’ll go from there.

    But I think Step 1 above is where this is going to fail. Jerusalem is not the problem: Jews are the problem. Jerusalem is a handy excuse.

  15. Group Captain Mandrake

    Tommy, this is a good posting.  I really do lose sleep over the issue, and I don’t have an answer.  I remember reading an excellent essay by Krauthammer in which he predicted, with a lot of regret, that Jerusalem will end up being divided again.  If I can find it, I’ll post a link.  It wasn’t on NRO, as far as I can remember.  I’m not convinced that the “Special International Regime” as set down in the UN Partition Plan would work. 

    Over the years, various plans have been floated for the future of Jerusalem, but I don’t see any immediate answer other than to try to negotiate a lasting settlement, and the chances of that happening seem to be receding somewhat.   

    I suspect that a solution to the problem, if there is one that is finally accepted by both sides, will be rather novel in its structure.

  16. FreeWifiDuringSermon

    This was  a great thought provoking post. However, so long as the Palestinians are allow themselves to remain enthralled to Hamas and the PA they will continue to celebrate the “martyrdom” of murderers and cheer for the elimination of the Zionist entity. They’ll continue to cheer for those that slip through security to slit the throats of children and infants

    I wish it were otherwise, but the Israelis will not accept this option and would be right to do so. 

  17. BrentB67

    A good post. In answer to your question – No.

    Islam in general and ‘Palestinians’ specifically are sworn to the eradication of Israel and Jews. Israel could cede all of Jerusalem to the ‘Palestinians’ and in a year or so once their smugglers have re-armed them they will again attack Israel. There is no amount of land or treasure that will satisfy Islamic hatred of Israel.

    I support an independent Israel, but that doesn’t mean I support a blank check of foreign aid with strings attached. I think the U.S. should support Israel, they are a close ally, but we would do well to get our money and our noses out of their affairs and let them secure their security as they see fit.

  18. Group Captain Mandrake

    Here’s the article where Krauthammer discusses the likely settlement that will be reached.  The questions are in bold, and if you go to How do you see the ultimate resolution? and the immediately following question, you can see Krauthammer’s thoughts and regrets.

  19. Hang On
    Tommy De Seno:

    Would making Jerusalem an international city stop the violence between Israel and the Palestinians? · · 1 hour ago

    No. While East Jerusalem may be important, the right of return is at least (if not more) important. Right of return will mean Israel can no longer be Israel, which is of course what Palestinians are seeking.

  20. Margaret Sarah

    Krauthammer’s prediction seems to be based on the immediate situation in 2009–wonder what he would say today.

    Thinking over thie thread, I wonder: What would be the equity of removing Jerusalem from Israeli control, given that they have protected all the holy places and made them available to members of all faiths? Why should Israel have Jerusalem, the focus of Jewish hopes for two millennia, taken away from their control in an attempt to appease their enemies?

    Another way to put this: Is there a place for considerations of justice in international affairs?

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