Jerusalem: A Tale of One
The New Republic, Nov. 14, 1994
By Martin Gilbert
On August 18 Yasir Arafat, speaking as head of the Palestinian National Authority in Gaza and Jericho, told Arab youngsters at a summer camp, "Those of you who lit the intifada fire must now act as defenders of this young state, whose capital is Jerusalem. It is Bir Salem [the fountain of Salem]. Salem was one of the Canaanite Kings, one of our forefathers. This city is the capital of our children and our children's children. If not for this belief and conviction of the Palestinian nation, this people would have been erased from the face of the earth, as were so many other nations."
King Salem is a newcomer on the historical scene. No such Canaanite, Jebusite or Philistine king is known to history. No wonder most inquirers into the status of Jerusalem, including the Anglo-Catholic writer Terence Prittie and the Israeli publicist Elyahu Tal, both authors of books titled Whose Jerusalem?, start with the historic nature of Jewish, Muslim and Christian links with the city. This is not a mere historical or religious curiosity. As Israel forges ahead on separate peace tracks with Jordan and the PLO, this age-old issue is emerging on the international agenda, despite Israel's insistence that Jerusalem is not negotiable. The signing of the Israeli-Jordanian peace agreement this week and President Clinton's visit to East Jerusalem have led to Jerusalem's being once more on the international agenda.
That Jerusalem is "holy to the three monotheistic religions" is a frequent assertion by those who wish to make the city's future status the subject of negotiation. For Muslims, however, even those who regard the city as theirs from Canaanite times, it is not Jerusalem but the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca that is the paramount shrine. Mecca, not Jerusalem, is the object of the most important pilgrimage a Muslim must try to make at least once in a lifetime.
For Christians, Jerusalem contains some, but not all, of their holiest shrines. In Jerusalem are the reputed sites of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, the tomb of Jesus, the tomb of the Virgin and the Place of the Ascension. But there are also Christian holy places elsewhere in Israel, among them the birthplace of Jesus (Bethlehem), the scenes of his childhood (Nazareth), the site of his Baptism (by the Jordan River) and the locale of his main preaching and miracles (Galilee).
In contrast, all the main holy sites for Jews lie within the post-1967 municipal borders of Jerusalem. Foremost are the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, both of which came within Jordanian jurisdiction in 1949, and to which Israeli Jews were denied access for nearly two decades. Since 1967, on the other hand, Israel has allowed worshipers of all three faiths unrestricted access to their holy places throughout the city, although Jewish and Christian prayer are barred on the Temple Mount to avoid disturbing Muslim sensitivities.
Jews at prayers all over the world face toward the Temple Mount. Muslims, even those praying on the Mount, face away from it, toward Mecca. Indeed, when they pray on the Mount, they have their backs toward its most splendid structure, the Dome of the Rock, while those praying in the Al-Aqsa mosque also look away from the city and toward Mecca. In the Old Testament, Jerusalem is mentioned on 656 occasions; the city's well-being is central to Jewish prayer. In the New Testament, the city is the scene of the climacteric events of the Christian faith. In the Koran, Jerusalem is not mentioned at all. Later Muslim tradition linked the Koran's reference to al masjid al-aqsa (the furthest sanctuary) with the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. But there was no building on the Temple Mount at the time of the Prophet; the Holy Land itself is called the "nearest" elsewhere in the Koran; and the verse is held to refer, in Islamic tradition, to a nighttime ascension to a heavenly sanctuary.
Even though the Jewish religious claim to Jerusalem is persuasive, it is not the religious importance of the city that is truly at the center of the current debate. Rather, the city's status as a national capital is at issue. For Muslims, Jerusalem has never served as a capital. Muslim rule generally is held to have begun in Jerusalem in the year 638. But when Suleiman became ruler in 715, he took as his permanent residence, and as the economic and administrative center of the country, not Jerusalem but Ramla, a town he had founded some years earlier for that very purpose. A Muslim resident of Jerusalem complained at the time of the decline in his city's status: 'Jerusalem is a provincial town attached to Ramla, having been the seat of the government in the days of Solomon and David."
For Israeli Jews, and for Jews throughout the diaspora, Jerusalem has been neither a provincial town nor a "mere" capital: it holds the central spiritual and physical place in the history of the Jews as a people. It became the capital of the first Jewish kingdom in 1004 B.C., almost 3,000 years ago. With the brief exception of the Crusader period, no other non-Jewish ruling power of Jerusalem made the city a capital; but it was consistently a capital for the Jews. Driven into exile by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C., the Jews returned fifty years later and rebuilt Jerusalem as their capital. It was their capital, too, under the Maccabees. The unity of the city achieved in 1967, then, was more than a quirk of military geography: it was the fulfillment of unbroken historical longings.
No other nation or empire held Jerusalem in such regard. Neither the Egyptian Mamluk rulers from 1260 to 1516, nor the Ottoman Turks, who ruled from 1516 to 1917, even contemplated making the city their capital. Although the British made Jerusalem the administrative seat of the Palestine Mandate in 1922, the location of ultimate authority for Palestine remained in London. At the same time, the British were committed under the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine to help create a Jewish National Home in which, from its inception, all Jewish self-governing institutions were located in Jerusalem.
The sensitivities of both Jews and Christians were trampled on by successive Muslim conquerors of Jerusalem. Churches became mosques. Evil smelling slaughterhouses and tanneries were set up near Jewish places of worship. Mosques were built close to churches (including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) and synagogues, their minarets deliberately overtowering them. Sometimes mosques were simply erected on top of churches. During the three decades of British rule, from 1917 to 1948, however, freedom of worship was respected and many new churches, mosques and synagogues were built. But between 1948 and 1967, in a retrogressive move that was to have a long-lasting impact on Jewish fears, the Jordanians excluded Israeli Jews even from the Western Wall.
The Jordanians also denied Israeli Jews access to the fifty-eight synagogues in the occupied Jewish Quarter of the Old City. Indeed, most of these synagogues were deliberately destroyed or vandalized. Jews also were barred from their other holy sites under Jordanian jurisdiction, including the tombs of the Prophet Samuel and Simon the Just; the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives; the tomb of Rachel, on the Jerusalem-Bethlehem road; and the burial site of the patriarchs.
As a result of the war of 1948, both Jews and Arabs lost areas of Jerusalem in which they previously had lived. In addition to the populous Jewish Quarter of the Old City, Israel lost two small residential areas east of the dividing line. Several substantial Arab residential areas came under Israeli control, becoming integral parts of West Jerusalem. The legal status of the divided city was established in a series of unilateral measures and decrees on both sides of the divide. In December 1948 Trans-Jordan annexed all the Arab-held areas of western Palestine, including those parts of Jerusalem that were under its military occupation. East and West Jerusalem had come into being, the creation of war, delineated by cease-fire lines. Shortly after the first Israeli general election in January 1949 Israel established its Knesset in West Jerusalem.
The Israel-Jordan armistice agreement of April 1949 envisaged free Israeli access to Mount Scopus enclave, and also the Western Wall. The Jordanian authorities never allowed this to be put into effect. One reason for Israeli determination not to see the repartition of Jerusalem, or any diminution of Israel's sovereignty over the united city, is the way in which the Jordanian government so rigorously refused to allow the university to function, or the Wall to be visited, despite the armistice pact. These were not marginal border deprivations, but blows at two central facets of Israeli and Jewish life.
During the War of Independence, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City was occupied by Jordan and its inhabitants expelled. With the ending of the war, Israel, in December 1949, proclaimed Jerusalem its capital. The country's Parliament, Supreme Court, Chief Rabbinate and Jewish Agency were among the institutions located there. Across the barbed wire and no-man's-lands that marked the dividing line, Jordanian-ruled East Jerusalem was not made the capital, either for its Palestinian residents or for its Jordanian occupiers. This remained in Amman. The citizens of Israel had no intimate neighboring state to which to turn, and no other city in Israel approaching Jerusalem in spiritual or administrative importance. Just as during thirteen centuries of Muslim control over the region, no Arab ruler or conqueror made the city his capital, the Jordanian king did not do so either. This was quite normal: no Muslim holy place is today the capital city of an Arab or Muslim land. Tehran, not Meshed or Qum, is the capital of Iran. Riyadh, not Mecca or Medina, is the capital of Saudi Arabia.
Only the Jews regard Jerusalem as both their spiritual and temporal center. (For Christians worldwide, Jerusalem is a spiritual not a temporal realm.) The city is the focal point of Jewish pilgrimage during the three annual "pilgrim festivals," and the one city toward which Jews are enjoined to set their feet as a matter of religious piety, as in the Passover and Yom Kippur invocation, "Next year in Jerusalem."
For Jews in all centuries, Jerusalem was a place not only of distant longing but of actual settlement. When the city was declared the capital of the State of Israel in 1949, it already had a substantial Jewish majority. In 1845, more than half a century before the first Zionist Congress in Basle set out the territorial aims of political Zionism, the Prussian Consul in Jerusalem, Dr. Schultze, estimated that there were 7,120 Jews, 5,000 Muslims and 3,390 Christians in the city. From that moment, the Jews were to remain the largest single religious community. Their numerical dominance increased, despite periods of first Turkish and then British restrictions on their entry into Palestine. Two years after Schultze's estimate, a British visitor, Dr.John Kitto, wrote in his book Modern Jerusalem: "Although we are much in the habit of regarding Jerusalem as a Muslim city, the Moslems do not actually constitute more than one third of the entire population."
In the nineteenth century, Jews came to Jerusalem from distant lands to live as well as to pray. Some worked on farms and in fields on the outskirts of the city. Some taught, some practiced medicine. By 1841 a Jewish printing press had been established, and seven years later came a Jewish bank. For four centuries the Ottomans neglected the city, which was for them a distant provincial town far from the capital, Constantinople, but the Jewish population grew steadily and increased its total percentage. On April 15, 1854, The New York Daily Tribune ran an article that declared: "The sedentary population of Jerusalem numbers about 15,500 souls, of whom 4,000 are Mussulmans and 8,000 Jews." The author was Karl Marx. Fourteen years later, the Jerusalem Almanack, an early guidebook to the city, listed twenty-one synagogues, twenty-one convents and eleven mosques.
Jewish enterprise after 1860 included a hospital, a library, schools, hotels and commercial houses. By the end of the nineteenth century, the Jews had become the largest builders of suburbs beyond the walls. In 1888 Jews from the Yemen established a quarter in the village of Silwan. Also in 1888 a Jerusalem Jew, Joseph Navon, obtained the Sultan's permission to build a railway to the city. This helped increase the immigrant Jewish population considerably, making the city more accessible to those who landed at Jaffa by boat from the Russian and Romanian Black Sea ports. In 1891 a Scottish Christian visitor, the Rev. Hugh Callan, asked of the city:
"What is to be her future? Shall the Russians rule through their Greek Church (as they are like to), or shall the Jews possess her? This at least is sure, while the rest are strangers, the Jews are still the only patriots there." In the last decade of the nineteenth century, the influx Ashkenazi Jews, especially from Tsarist Russia, raised the Jewish population to more than 28,000 in 1896. At that time the Christian Arabs and Muslims Arabs each numbered less than 9,000. The new Jewish arrivals lived mostly in the new Jewish suburbs outside the walls. These suburbs even had their own Jewish post office. By 1914 the Jewish population had reached 45,000 out of 65,000. Only the coming of the First World War halted the continuing demographic dominance of the Jews, many of whom were expelled to Egypt or deported to Turkey.
The Zionists, encouraged after 1917 by the Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate, established self-governing institutions in Jerusalem. Despite the Jewish majority in the city, the British chose an Arab as the first mayor, and from then on appointed only Arabs as his successors. The growing Jewish presence included the Jewish National Library, the Hadassah hospital and medical center and the Hebrew University, where Winston Churchill planted a palm tree in 1921. Three Jewish garden cities were set up, pioneers of modern suburban planning. But three Arab uprisings within two decades led to the effective separation of Arab and Jewish neighborhoods, including the creation of separate bus routes. Among the Jews murdered by Arabs in 1936 was Levi Billig, an advocate of Arab-Jewish reconciliation. He was in his study working on a medieval Islamic text when he was killed.
British rule brought the amenities of modern city life to Jerusalem, leading to a rise in Arab as well as Jewish immigration. British census reports show that the increase in Jerusalem's population between 1921 and 1933 by immigration amounted to 20,000 Jews and more than 21,000 Arabs. These Arab immigrants came , like the Jews, from distant lands, including Morocco, Algeria, Libya and the Yemen.
In 1938, shortly after Britain raised the possibility of separate Jewish and Arab states in Palestine, the Jewish Agency proposed a partition of Jerusalem itself based on the main areas of urban settlement. In an attempt to create a map that would obtain Arab approval, the agency offered to exclude seven Jewish residential areas from the sovereign Jewish city: the Jewish Quarter of the Old City; Yemin Moshe, founded in 1892; and five post-1920 suburbs in the south, which lay beyond a belt of Arab neighborhoods.
The Arab states around Palestine refused to accept the idea of Jewish statehood and rejected this compromise. A violent decade followed, culminating in the battle for Jerusalem in 1948. At that time, 100,000 Jews and 65,000 Arabs inhabited the city. The Jewish Agency accepted the U.N. plan for a U.N.-administered Jerusalem, calling it a "heavy sacrifice" that nevertheless would serve as "the Jewish contribution to the solution of a painful problem." The Arabs rejected this proposal, too. The U.N. plan contained a proviso that after ten years a referendum would be held to explore the desires of the inhabitants about the future regime of the city. Demographically, this almost certainly would have given the Jews the controlling voice.
Following the battle for Jerusalem, in which Egyptian forces entered the southernmost Jewish suburb, kibbutz Ramat Rahel, a divided Jerusalem emerged, delineated by the cease-fire lines and separated by large areas of no-man's land. The Arabs lost all their flourishing suburbs west of the cease-fire line; the Jews lost all theirs to the east and north.
In May 1948 Israel declared statehood. The Arab countries denied statehood to the Palestinian Arabs, who did not much protest. Jordan annexed the land not occupied by Israel. Israel built up Jerusalem as a capital, with its parliament building, law courts and government ministries. Because Mount Scopus was surrounded by Arab forces, the university had to build a second campus in the western part of the city. Jordan, despite Palestinian wishes, declined to establish a Palestinian university in Jerusalem. Nor did the question ever arise, during the nineteen years of Jordanian rule, of making East Jerusalem the Palestinian capital.
The population growth between 1949 and 1966 underlined this disparity of interest. The Arab population increased to 70,000. The Jewish population increased to 195,000. This number included many Jewish immigrants from Morocco, Iraq and other Arab lands where they had long been harassed and persecuted.
On July 27, 1953, King Hussein of Jordan declared East Jerusalem to be "the alternative capital of the Hashemite Kingdom." Yet Amman remained the real center of Jordanian rule. When on June 5, 1967, Jordanian troops bombarded Mount Scopus and Ramat Rahel, the die was cast. The Israeli government had urged Hussein not to enter the war. His decision to do so was decisive for the future of Jerusalem and has determined its situation until today.
Within two days of Hussein's troops' opening fire, the Jordanian sector of the city was under Israeli control. The physical barriers were thrown down. "We earnestly stretch out our hands to our Arab brethren in peace," declared Moshe Dayan, then minister of defense, "but we have returned to Jerusalem never to part from her again." East Jerusalem, which constituted one-fifth of the built-up area of the city, was then incorporated by Israel and the city was given new municipal boundaries. New Jewish suburbs were built across the former Jordanian border, the cease-fire line of 1949 . An influx of immigrants from the Soviet Union helped populate these new neighborhoods. By the end of 1993, the Jewish population of Jerusalem had risen to more than 400,000, the Arab population to 155,000.
As a result of the policies of Teddy Kollek, the mayor of Jerusalem from 1966 to 1993, facilities were provided for the Arab minority of East Jerusalem far beyond anything introduced under Jordanian rule, including a sewer and piped water system, clinics, libraries, parks and gardens. Access to Israeli hospitals was unrestricted. The Arab neighborhoods also grew in both size and prosperity. The Christian Arab communities declined, however, with many leading Christian Arab families emigrating, as they had in what had been largely Christian Bethlehem, because of Muslim hostility.
The Christian communities inside Jerusalem have suffered throughout the centuries from chronic disagreements among themselves, and from frequent hostility and neglect by the city's rulers. With reunification in 1967, Israel pledged to uphold freedom of access and worship, and this pledge has been kept. The Via Dolorosa is among the city's busiest routes. Christians of every denomination (there are more than thirty in the city) worship at their holy places, which are often divided between two or more denominations, and were in the past much fought over, amid blows and curses. Those in search of the Garden of Gethsemane can ,choose among three different sites, depending on the branch of their faith. Two different sites, one inside and one outside the present Old City walls, are both claimed as the true Calgary. Within the Holy Sepulchre, where the most visited of these Calgarys is located, six separate Christian denominations have their custodians; each has its own altars and places of worship. Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, Armenians, Protestants and Copts are the main Christian groups in the city. Each has its own needs, aspirations, properties, leaders and worshipers. For several years a Mormon university has been an impressive feature of Mount Scopus, adjacent to the Hebrew University.
Under Israeli rule, Christian worship is unimpeded. Churches can now be freely built and freely repaired. Outside Christian interests are continually asserted. This summer, the first Vatican emissary to Israel since 1948 asked for special consideration of Roman Catholic needs. Within a month, an emissary from President Boris Yeltsin of Russia pressed the concerns of the new Russia for a voice. Israel responded by agreeing to continue to uphold the needs of all Christian religious denominations. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres informed the Russian emissary that whereas political rights, of which the Russians also had spoken, must be retained by Israel, the spiritual rights of all religious groups would be scrupulously upheld.
Each Israeli government since 1967, while maintaining open access to the holy sites of Christianity and Islam, has been committed to maintaining Jerusalem both as its capital and as an undivided city. Kollek, although no longer mayor, observed in a recent conversation that any division, however amicably achieved as part of a peace negotiation, would still involve demarcated borders, customs posts, check-points and the cutting in half of the city's integrated facilities, including postal, electricity, water and drainage services. Since 1967, however, the American and British governments have continued to take a lead internationally in refusing to move their Israeli embassies to the capital city that they do not recognize. One senior American diplomat was recently refused permission by the State Department to participate in a meeting at the Jerusalem Hyatt Hotel on the grounds that the hotel was located in East Jerusalem; it was in fact a few yards inside the Jordanian side of the 1949-1967 line. On April 27 of this year, a letter from the Downing Street office of the British prime minister stated that "the British Government does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem." The British ambassador to Israel later explained that what Britain did recognize was that Israel "exercises de facto authority in West Jerusalem." As far as Britain and the United States are concerned, Israel has neither de-jure authority in West Jerusalem, nor de facto authority in East Jerusalem, where since 1967 it has been considered the occupying power.
This summer's Rabin-Hussein agreement in Washington confirmed the special position of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan with regard to the Muslim holy places in the city. The Israel-Jordan agreement was formally signed on October 26 in the presence of President Clinton. Yet also this summer, Palestinian Arab leaders, meeting at Orient House in East Jerusalem throughout this year, indicated by their very meetings the Palestinian desire to see East Jerusalem as their capital. This desire was only articulated for the first time twenty-five years ago, after the unification of the city under Israeli rule. Now it has become a staple of Palestinian rhetoric and actions. Thus, the August Palestinian Pharmaceutical Conference, convened outside Jerusalem, held its final session in a hotel in the city.
Under its Muslim name, Haram esh-Sharif, the Muslim, as opposed to Palestinian, focus on Jerusalem, is on the Temple Mount. This summer, King Hussein, flying over Jerusalem from west to east as a gesture of Jordanian-Israeli friendship, circled the Mount. Seventeen years earlier, Anwar Sadat had gone to East Jerusalem and prayed on the Mount before addressing the Israeli Parliament in West Jerusalem. Shortly after Sadat's visit, a distinguished Israeli public servant, Walter Eytan, advocated giving the Mount "to an Arab sovereign as his wholly sovereign territory." Eytan was convinced that "unfettered Arab sovereignty" over the Mount was the only solution for the Jerusalem problem, and he suggested "a unilateral, unsolicited offer."
Does such an idea have to be at variance with practical politics? In Madrid in 1991, the Israeli government headed by Yitzhak Shamir declared that the future status of Jerusalem was not negotiable, and that the city would remain the "undivided" capital of Israel. This policy was reiterated by Yitzhak Rabin's government after it came to power in 1992. Yet there are many scenarios whereby Israel retains sovereignty over the whole city, while the Muslim holy places keep their already substantial autonomies, which could be enhanced, even to the extent of a Walter Eytan-style Arab sovereignty over the Mount itself. At the same time the predominantly Arab residential neighborhoods could be closely linked administratively and economically with the Palestinian National Authority, without any derogation of Israeli sovereignty. It should not be beyond the wit of good constitutional and international lawyers to devise such a scheme.
On August 17 Peres and chief PLO negotiator Nabil Shaath agreed that Israel would transfer control of education of Palestinians throughout the West Bank to the PLO before the start of the school year. This agreement was carried out two weeks later, on September 1. Given political progress elsewhere, it could be extended to the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem without affecting Israeli sovereignty, while at the same time enhancing Arab self-government and self-esteem. The agreement signed on August 24 by Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (the Early Transfer of Authority Agreement), is leading, even as I write these words -- and despite the recent spate of Hamas terror -- to the Israeli government's transfer of authority throughout the West Bank of Palestinian control over education, health, tourism, social affairs and taxation, the so-called Early Empowerment. The area covered by this wide-ranging and historic agreement actually includes the populous Jerusalem Arab suburb of Ar-Ram, which, while situated alongside the city's north-south highway, lies in fact just outside the post-1967 municipal border. Nor has Israel ever sought to incorporate this suburb within the city border. Indeed, the first and only Israeli extension of the Jerusalem municipal borders since 1967, announced a little more than a year ago, was limited to land in pre-1967 Israel.
A pattern for Jerusalem's future may be seen in Israel's present willingness, despite earlier reluctance, to permit several aspects of Palestinian national activity to be directed from East Jerusalem, and to allow leading members of the former enemy, the PLO, to visit Jerusalem to pray on the Temple Mount and to conduct negotiations in the city. If the pace and direction of the current autonomy agreements is maintained, there ought to be a political way forward that could satisfy both Israeli and Palestinian aspirations, while maintaining the current growth and expansion of all neighborhoods. Jerusalem both East and West could remain the capital of Israel, a shared city under Israeli sovereignty, with no internal borders. Within a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, the East Jerusalem Arabs could obtain such status and self-governing instruments, and administrative and even political links with the Palestinian Authority, as to satisfy their emotional and practical desires for a capital of their own. This would be in addition to their existing, and increasingly self-governing, large urban centers of Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron.
Meeting in Vienna early this year, Israeli and Palestinian officials exchanged views on "the future status" of Jerusalem. On August 16 these talks were resumed in Casablanca, and a week later moved to Marrakesh. They have not been widely publicized or dramatically promoted, but through them may emerge a political formula, and a reality on the ground, acceptable to both sides. That reality need not be based on repartition of the city. Most Arab areas are adjacent to Jewish ones, some closely so, but not enmeshed with them. Jewish and Arab activities proceed alongside each other, on parallel rather than intertwined paths.
The pattern of urban settlement is intricate, but not inextricable. In the north of the city, beyond the substantial Arab suburb of Shuafat, lie the Atarot industrial zone and the Jerusalem Municipal Airport. It is not acceptable to Israel, nor is it in the realm of reality, that this or any other Jewish suburb built across the 1967 cease-fire line be excluded from Israeli Jerusalem, nor need it be for Arab aspirations to be satisfied. The Palestinian Arabs of Jerusalem do not need sovereignty to flourish: a sovereign Israel is already ensuring that it can be an effective master in its own house, with considerable building, intellectual and commercial activity, newspapers and services. It was in fact not Israel but Yasir Arafat who recently closed down Jerusalem's most independent-minded Arab newspaper.
As the sovereign power, Israel can offer an enlightened rule that is the envy of many cities in the Arab world. It also can offer close links to the growing Palestinian autonomy immediately beyond the municipal border. All sorts of ideas can be floated: were, for example, the suburb of Ar-Ram to become the location of the Palestinian capital, it would be within the built-up area of Jerusalem, and yet outside Israel's sovereign area. Despite the reluctance of the outside world to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the current municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, such sovereignty serves as a basic protection for Israel, not only to maintain the unity of its capital, but also as a safeguard against those terrorist elements that would disrupt the peace process, and the peace itself.
Today, as for the past twenty-seven years of the reunited city, the Jewish and Arab communities of Jerusalem live virtually separate lives. Some points of physical contact exist: hospitals, museums, the lobbies of hotels and an increasing number of social welfare and charitable institutions. The summer of 1994 saw a joint Arab-Jewish performance of Romeo and Juliet in the city. But this does not add up to the mixing or even overlapping of the communities. West Jerusalemites rarely visit the Arab residential neighborhoods on a social basis, and vice versa. Shopping, eating out and recreation are seldom across the divide. Neither side has much idea, if any, of the daily life of the other, of the urban developments across the invisible border or of needs and desires beyond the undemarcated divide. Perhaps in this very separation, topographical and social, may lie the best hope for the peace, growth and prosperity of a permanently united city. United means, in this perspective, united within the borders of Israel. For the Palestinian Arabs of East Jerusalem to live under Israeli sovereignty, as they have done since 1967, is not unlike the situation in many capitals and large cities throughout the world, where minority groups have a respected, protected and independent place within a wider sovereign entity. Muslims in Delhi, Christian Copts in Cairo, Hong Kong Chinese in Vancouver, Russians in Kiev and Kharkov, and Hindus in London and Leicester are among those who seek not political independence but the right to participate and contribute as equal and respected citizens. Such an approach can certainly offer a bright future for the Arabs, both Muslim and Christian, in East Jerusalem. Given the facts on the ground, not just of the past twenty-five years but of the past century, and also the very different meaning of the city to Jews and Arabs, participation and contribution may also be the best the Palestinians can achieve.