On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a speech blasting the Israeli government and defending the Obama administration’s decision to abstain from, and hence allow, an anti-Israel resolution at the UN Security Council last week.
In his remarks, Kerry presented six principles for a final peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians that he believed represented “a broad consensus on balanced principles that would satisfy the core needs of both sides.”
One of those principles was making Jerusalem a capital of both an Israeli and a Palestinian state. A final agreement would, he said: “[p]rovide an agreed resolution for Jerusalem as the internationally recognized capital of the two states, and protect and assure freedom of access to the holy sites consistent with the established status quo.”
This, he said, was something different than dividing Jerusalem: ” Most acknowledge that Jerusalem should not be divided again like it was in 1967, and we believe that,” Kerry said.
Yet, he added, “At the same time, there is broad recognition that there will be no peace agreement without reconciling the basic aspirations of both sides to have capitals there.”
Hence some sort of division. Perhaps not “like it was in 1967” — with a heavily-fortified frontier running down Hebron Road, and the Old City totally cut off from Israel — but Kerry left the door open to everything short of that.
Kerry’s proposal is a total betrayal of President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign promise to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC): “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided,” he said on that occasion.
Obama began to walk that promise back almost immediately after he made it: “Well, obviously, it’s going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations,” he said afterwards. But nevertheless, he had promised that Israel would be Israel’s undivided capital — somehow.
Moreover, Palestinians had already ruled out some kind of shared capital when it was offered by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the Camp David talks in 2000. Israel had offered “a division in practice…that didn’t look like a division,” including a Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem and sovereignty over the Temple Mount, with some residual Jewish presence to be acknowledged there.
Then-Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat rejected the idea, refusing even to acknowledge Jewish historical and religious claims to the city and ties to the Temple Mount. For the Palestinians, Jerusalem was to be theirs — alone.
So Kerry’s “broad consensus” turns out to be anything but. Sharing Jerusalem is an idea that Palestinians have already rejected and that Israelis are not likely to offer again, given the bloody intifada that Palestinians launched last time it was made.
It is also an idea that the United States has now rejected, through the Obama administration’s acceptance of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 last Friday, which regards the Israel presence in East Jerusalem as “settlements” that are in “flagrant violation of international law.”
Effectively, the Obama administration has allowed the Palestinians to claim East Jerusalem as their own, with the option of negotiating that claim away. The starting point of negotiations is now a division of Jerusalem “like it was in 1967.”
That is not a solution the Israelis can accept. It is a point of departure, not a “broad consensus.” It is a violation of President Barack Obama’s own policies. And it is a recipe for disaster.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.