United Jerusalem — Capital of Israel and Palestine?

The American government has finally accepted reality. Jerusalem undivided is the capital of Israel, and no Israeli government could ever negotiate that fact out of existence. However, if there is ever to be peace between Israel and a future Palestine, the Muslim population of the Holy City must also have its seat of government located within the city’s unified boundaries. There is simply no getting around these two realities. For peace to reign, Jerusalem must remain undivided and the capital of two sovereign states.

Equally important, however, is the fundamental third reality which stipulates that Israel’s military line on the West Bank must be the Jordan River. Without the West Bank, Israel is practically indefensible. The weaponry of 1967 and the conditions upon which Israel was victorious fifty years ago have no basis in reality in the 21st century. The idea that Palestine should consist of a divided capital in Jerusalem along with the near entirety of the West Bank is the reason the so-called peace process has gone nowhere in the last three decades. Both Israel and the US Pentagon have long understood the military necessity of a permanent Israeli presence in this vital territory (see the US Joint Chiefs of Staff assessment in the aftermath of the 1967 War)

The whole world has erroneously bought into the fiction that the contours of a future Palestinian state can remain demilitarized; and that the huge majority Palestinian population of Jordan (eastern Palestine) will somehow remain politically dormant forever. This myth implies that the Arab peoples east of the Jordan River are somehow separate and different from those people west of the river. The whole world has shamefully (and perhaps deliberately) determined that the post-1967 PLO strategy — as recorded for posterity in their 10 Points for War statement of June 8, 1974 — has been rescinded. It has not! The so-called “two-state solution” is nothing more than one big lie that the German government and its counterparts in France, England and elements of the US political establishment have bought into, for reasons of their own national interest, especially oil.

The PLO’s Ten Points of War are clear and they remain in force today. The Palestinian strategy is to convince the West that their program is “moderate” while at the same time seeking to redress the military consequences of Israel’s miraculous victory in the June 1967 War. The West Bank of the Jordan River is the most strategic piece of territory among the current battlefields of the world today. The PLO strategy of the 10 Points of War is to use diplomacy in order to recapture this crucial territory. They hope to eventually link the West Bank’s strategic military value to other military forces which are hostile to Israel residing east of the Jordan River — i.e. the Palestinian population of Jordan, Shiite Iraq and an imperial Iran.

The PLO is still the same liberation organization that it has always been. To think differently in this day and age — with Iran ascendant in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon — is the height of delusional thinking. From the perspective of Israel, the Palestinian failure to accept the extremely dangerous peace proposal of Ehud Barack is clear proof of Palestinian intentions today as well as seventeen years ago. The same is true for Gaza after General Sharon evacuated the Jewish population in hopes of establishing peace.

The PLO will only accept a peace proposal which leaves it a free hand. This means that the PLO expects Israel to completely retreat from territory that it was attacked from in both 1948 and 1967. They demand this withdrawal without condition or any Israeli presence on the West Bank’s border with Jordan. The US-led generational peace process claims to represent that Palestine will remain demilitarized forever. But the PLO has other plans, as stipulated by its 10 Points of War program. The so-called “peace process” has continually broken down over Palestinian insistence that its eastern border be completely immune from any kind of a permanent Israeli military status. This has been true under the last three American presidents — Clinton, Bush and Obama. And it is the reason that the peace process has become a fraud. This fact is precisely why Israelis and young Palestinians have lost faith in the so-called “two-state solution”. Israelis know that Palestinians really don’t want peace, and young Palestinians know that Israel is not fooled by false PLO “diplomacy”.

The Palestinian perception of a “peaceful solution” is predicated on the division of Jerusalem into the capital of two sovereign states, both situated west of the Jordan River. The PLO demands the complete absence of any Israeli forces on the Jordan River. The PLO has never budged from these two central demands. But these demands will never be acceptable to Israel. For Israel, Jerusalem must stay unified and its military border to the east must remain on the river. There is no way to bridge these two positions. Both nations are living in a reality where deadlock is the only thing permanent about their situation. In such a scenario, the so-called “two-state solution” west of the Jordan River has become simply impossible. Hence the “peace process” has become moribund, an anachronism.

There is only one solution to this deadlocked problem: First, keep Jerusalem united, as the capital of an Israeli political sovereignty that is located behind the 1949 Armistice line; Second, maintain Israel’s military presence within the ridge line of the Jordan River Valley; Third, keep Jerusalem united as the capital of a democratic sovereign Arab state east of the river in what is now the absolute monarchy of Jordan; Fourth, maintain that state’s military line on its own territory. The future of the West Bank, as well as that of Jerusalem, can only be one of a shared sovereignty. However, the dual populations of the West Bank and of Jerusalem will remain democratic as citizens of Israel (for Jews), and as citizens of a new democratic Palestinian-Jordanian state (for Arabs).

This shared sovereignty (within a territorial condominium) will consist of dual-state authority, mutually owned. People residing on farm lands — separately or within cooperatives — will come under the authority of their autonomous regions linked to the rules of a dual-state authority. People residing in urban areas — consisting of cities and villages — will also come under the authority of autonomous regions, also linked to the dual-state authority. Each autonomous area will decide whether or not to allow communities of mixed citizenry. The dual-state authority will decide the big issues of water, energy, land use, transportation, and general security. The villages, farms and cities will remain generally autonomous. Of course, the contours of the shared-rule sovereignty will become part and parcel of the final status negotiations between Israel and the democratic Arab state.

Shared sovereignty is the only alternative to the current Israeli approach of limited Palestinian autonomy west of the river, but without any kind of legitimate statehood and without its own capital in Jerusalem. Shared sovereignty is also the only viable alternative to the long-held policy of the PLO. The Palestinians seek international justification to divide Jerusalem and force the removal of all Israeli military personnel from the West Bank. This negotiating posture keeps hidden the PLO’s intention of a staged liberation of all territories, both east and west of the Jordan River. This would include both the monarchy in Jordan (eastern Palestine) and eventually Israel itself.

Israel’s right-wing negotiating strategy would deprive West Bank Palestinians of Israeli citizenship, while slowly usurping all the land for its own development. Meanwhile the left-wing in Israel has lost political credence and continually moves to the right. This has happened because the vast majority of the Israeli public is closely attuned to PLO strategy of “staged liberation”. Most Israeli citizens have not forgiven the Left for its gross naivete in accepting the PLO as a responsible partner for peace.

But the world still clings to the so-called “two-state solution”, even though it has failed miserably to alter a deadlocked situation. After a quarter century, it has become obvious that it simply won’t work. Now, the US president has attempted to shake this reality into some kind of alternative, by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He is willing to accept any plan that both sides will agree to. Since 1982, I have been promoting my own four-point plan. If agreed to by the Palestinians, I would call for the immediate establishment of a united capital of Jerusalem for both Israel and (at first) the West Bank Palestinians. In the near future, I would hope that the US government would attempt to persuade the King of Jordan to move his country toward a true democratic constitutional monarchy.

The world should know that there is an alternative to the delusion of the so-called “two-state solution”. Here is my internationally published four-point plan: 1) A democratic vote of all Arabs living on both the West Bank and in eastern Palestine (Jordan) shall determine the legitimate government of Palestine. 2) There should be mutual recognition between this government and Israel. 3) The West Bank should become a shared-rule condominium. 4) Jerusalem should remain united, the capital of two nations living at peace.

About the Author
Steven Horowitz has been a farmer, journalist and teacher spanning the last 45 years. He resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. During the 1970's, he lived on kibbutz in Israel, where he worked as a shepherd and construction worker. In 1985, he was the winner of the Christian Science Monitor's Peace 2010 international essay contest. He was a contributing author to the book "How Peace came to the World" (MIT Press).