Jerusalem, Netanyahu and the two-state solution
What are Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s real intentions vis-à-vis Israeli– Palestinian negotiations and the two-state solution? What does he really want? Speculation aside, a great deal can be gleaned about both Netanyahu’s core beliefs and his intentions by examining his words and his actions with respect to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is universally recognized as a key permanent status issue, which, for any peace agreement, will require the reconciling of competing Israeli and Palestinian claims as well as recognition and protection of Jewish, Muslim and Christian equities. In the context of the current political stalemate, however, it has become much more than that. Today, Jerusalem is both the volcanic core of the conflict – the place where religion and nationalism meet and combine in a potentially volatile mix – and a microcosm of the conflict and the imbalance of power that characterises developments on the ground.
Taken together, Netanyahu’s utterances and policies regarding Jerusalem offer a clear understanding of the underlying architecture of the overall vision he is implementing with respect to the Palestinians. In this way, they draw a clear picture of the end game Netanyahu has in mind for this conflict: a future in which there will be a cantonised, discontinuous Palestinian entity – called a state – dotted with Israeli settlements, with no international boundaries and isolated from Jerusalem. All stakeholders – Israelis, Palestinians, the international community and faith communities throughout the world – would be well advised to base their own positions and policies on an unvarnished appraisal of Netanyahu’s aspirations in Jerusalem.