Will Trump divide Jerusalem in three?

December 25, 2018 by Daniel Pipes - JNS.org
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Writing in Al-Monitor, Ben Caspit has leaked details of the Trump administration’s “ultimate deal” to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict…writes Daniel Pipes/JNS.

Daniel Pipes

He writes that the Trump plan “includes a clear partition of Jerusalem into three sections,” and quotes an anonymous “senior diplomatic source” as saying, “It is not about a Palestinian capital in Abu-Dis (a Palestinian village in the Jerusalem governance area) but in significant sections of east Jerusalem.” He writes that according to this source, there will be two capitals in Jerusalem: the Israeli capital in west Jerusalem and the Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, and the capital of Palestine in the Arab parts of east Jerusalem. A third region, within the Holy Basin, will be under international control.

Well, “interesting if true” should be the first response, as prior leaks have proved to be inaccurate.

But let us suppose that this anonymous senior diplomatic source knows of what he speaks. Then what?

The idea of putting any area “under international control” curiously harks back to the 1947 U.N. partition plan’s ill-fated but enduring notion of Jerusalem as a corpus separatum. In other words, it is anachronistic.

The idea is also wildly dangerous: Imagine placing one of the world’s most sensitive locations under the control of the U.N. General Assembly or the Quartet on the Middle East. Their inevitable mischief could well set off the next round of fighting.

The Trump plan wrestles away sovereign areas of Israel and hands them to the Palestinians.

Doing so rewards the Palestinians, despite their fulfilling basically none of their prior commitments dating back to the Oslo Accords of 1993, thereby encouraging further Palestinian bad behavior.

Making east Jerusalem into the capital of Palestine implies that the U.S. government recognizes a “State of Palestine.” U.S. President Donald Trump’s remarks over the past year suggest he is likely to demand that the government of Israel recognize it too, setting off a huge debate in Israel.

Palestine will include parts of Jerusalem and, presumably, most of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip. Where the borders should run in the first two areas will drive a massive argument. A second will follow when the Palestinians, inevitably, decide that Palestine includes all of Israel, too.

In addition, as Caspit points out, a proposal to divide Israel into three will roil Israeli politics and harm Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will no longer be able to satisfy both his nationalist base and the U.S. president.

As in other cases where Trump follows his instincts against the Republican consensus (imposing tariffs, pulling troops from Syria), the left-wing of the Democratic Party will (very faintly) applaud. This time, so will the European Union.

In contrast, many of Trump’s Israeli and Zionist admirers, including evangelical Christians, will be shocked by his proposal and lash out. Given prior patterns (again, tariffs and Syria), one can confidently predict what would happen next: Trump would respond angrily and double down, vaporizing the U.S.-Israel honeymoon of the past two years. Trump supporters will bitterly divide over this issue, further weakening the conservative movement and diminishing Trump’s chances of re-election.

If Caspit is correct about Trump proposing to divide Jerusalem into three, the consequences will be major and long-lasting.

Daniel Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum.‎


10 Responses to “Will Trump divide Jerusalem in three?”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    One country with all religious and races living together. After all it worked for hundreds of years under the Ottoman Empire after the crusaders from Europe left. The tricky thing is what to call the unified country and to ensure that one person equals one vote for the election of the parliament.

  2. Howard A. Levin says:

    Neither Al Monitor nor Ben Caspit are reliable sources of information. Al Monitor has always been anti-Israel as has Ben Caspit. Their “publication” is the equivalent of a pali rag sheet. The writers are all either ultra left wing fanatics or Arab pro pali mouthpieces. Don’t believe anything from those sources.

  3. john nemesh says:

    All what David writes above is pertinent.

    But where are we 70 years in?

    It is time to think out of the box for the future of all.The past with all

    justifications has got us no closer…

    East jerusalem is toxic to jews…there are 350,000 Muslim Arabs.

    West jerusalem contains 450,000 jews….To call it ALL a unified one city is


    Finally, a plan that satisfies no one fully is in the end going to be the only one

    that will succeed.

    • Leon Poddebsky says:

      John, ask any Arab “”Palestinian””resident of Jerusalem whether his preference is to live within Israeli jurisdiction or within the jurisdiction of a so-called “”Palestinian””” state.
      His answer would surprise you.

      (I have used the masculine pronouns exclusively because in Arab society generally women’s opinions and preferences have a certain “status,” if you know what I mean.

    • Leon Poddebsky says:

      John, I suggest that you not be so impatient: historical processes are lengthy.
      Arafat said to his people (not really “his” people, since he was an Egyptian):
      “Patience, patience…perseverance, perseverance”/ [ “summud, summud”in Arabic] That is, the “”Palestinians””, he believed, would ultimately win the war of attrition against the Yahud / Jew.
      Well, they have been in constant decline in every sphere of existence, (a predicament of their own making), while Israel’s trajectory is constantly soaring.

      Wars are won by adversaries of superior stamina.

  4. Leon Poddebsky says:

    The Arab “”Palestinians”” already assert that “Palestine includes all of Israel too.”
    But, they say, to date only Phase One of their plan for Israel’s phased demise has been realised, and that, by means of the Oslo Fraud.

  5. DAVID SINGER says:

    I would be very surprised if this report of Trump’s intentions on Jerusalem has any credibility for the following reasons:
    1. Jordan is already the Custodian of the Islamic Holy Sites in Jerusalem under the 1994 Israel- Jordan Peace Treaty. Access to those sites is freely available to Moslems.

    2. Dividing Jerusalem – which has only be divided once in its 3000 year history between 1948 and 1967 – cannot be justified on historic and geographic precedent. It has – but for that brief 19 year period – been a united city.

    3. A Palestinian Arab capital in East Jerusalem could have been created at any time between 1948 and 1967 with the stroke of an Arab League pen after every single Jew living in East Jerusalem had been ethnicallly cleansed from there during the 1948 War of Independence, their Synagogues destroyed and their right to pray at the Kotel denied.. Surely the opportunity then available during those 19 Jew-free years has flown the coop 50 years later. Rewarding the wrongdoers for their past evil is not justified

    4. The PLO made no claim to territorial sovereignty in Jerusalem in its 1964 Charter. It only became an issue after Israel wrested Jerusalem from Jordan control in 1967

    Would Trump overturn history on its head to appease the PLO which has said it wants nothing to do with Trump’s plan whatever he proposes? I hardly think Trump would be so foolish to reward the PLO with such munificence – the pay for slay mob Trump finds so odious.

    There could be some enhanced role for Jordan in Jerusalem under Trump’s plan by creating a Jordan enclave encompassing the Moslem Holy sites. That would be an imaginative idea that may have some hope of being successfully negotiated under Trump’s “deal of the century” .

    Trump has taught us that speculating on what he might do is a very dangerous game.

    Wait and see is the best advice…

  6. Terry Davis says:

    It’s all academic. I have absolute faith in the pretend Palestinians. They have never failed to reject any peace proposal before, and they won’t start now.

    Israel may have the luxury of offering to negotiate on a plan it knows will never come to fruition. Israel may be able to look totally reasonable and genuine in the eyes of Trump, who will once more see the pretend Palis as bigoted extremists who will no longer be humoured by the President.

    When have the pretend Palis ever let us down before? They will sing from their own racist hymn-sheet, just as they always have. If Trump actually offered them the whole of Israel, they’d still reject it.

    The pretend Pali will never get their state, because they don’t want a state, just to destroy an existing state for racist and bigoted reasons.

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