Vol. 9, No. 23
8 April '10
Posted before Shabbat
As a result of the June 1967 Six-Day War, Israel entered the eastern parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank in a war of self-defense. It is very important to recall that Israel entered these areas after it was attacked, and after it requested that the Jordanians not join the Egyptian war effort. There were Jordanian artillery attacks throughout Jerusalem and all of Israel, as well as movement of Jordanian ground forces into areas that were previously no-man's land.
There is presently a marked shift underway in U.S. policy on Jerusalem. True, no U.S. administration accepted Israel's annexation of Jerusalem in July 1967. Nonetheless, in the past we saw the U.S. and Israel coming to a modus vivendi with respect to Israeli policy in Jerusalem, when Israel built various neighborhoods in the eastern parts of the city, from Ramat Eshkol to Gilo to Ramot.
A neighborhood called Har Homa in southeastern Jerusalem was established in 1997 during the Clinton administration to ease the considerable shortage of housing in the Jewish sector. On two occasions, the Arab bloc initiated a draft resolution in the UN Security Council to condemn Israel for constructing Har Homa. On both occasions, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Bill Richardson, vetoed those resolutions under instructions from the Clinton administration.
The Oslo Agreements in 1993 do not require a freeze on construction in the neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Furthermore, under the Oslo Agreements, Jerusalem was treated as having a completely different status than the West Bank and the city was kept under Israeli control, while seen as an issue for permanent status negotiations in the future.
It is possible to discern a growing view, which has been reported in the Washington Post, that the Obama administration intends to put on the table its own plan for Middle East peace, based on a nearly full Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines, that most Israeli planners view as militarily indefensible. As the Palestinians see this scenario unfold, their incentive to re-enter negotiations will decline as they look forward to the prospect that an American peace plan will be imposed. If indeed there is such a plan being prepared, then the recent U.S.-Israel tensions over construction in east Jerusalem may only be Act I in a much longer drama that the two countries are about to face.
We are in a period in which the U.S.-Israel relationship appears to be in flux, but it is hard for many observers to establish whether the policies of the Obama administration represent a sharp break in U.S. policy toward Israel or a continuation of past U.S. policies. Will military ties between the two countries be affected? According to a charge that has been associated with officers in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Israel's disagreements with the Palestinians, or Israel's construction efforts, have a negative effect on the U.S. military posture in the Middle East, with some reports even going so far as to suggest that they risk the lives of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Finally, on the basis of past experience, is it likely that the U.S. and Israel will ultimately resolve their differences, or are the present gaps between the two countries so wide that their long-term relationship will change?
(Read full report)
Related critique: Dore Gold and the US Stance on Jerusalem