Think tank: Pullout from Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem would not end conflict over city

By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
October 21, 2007 23:19
2 minute read.

 
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An Israeli pullout from Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem as part of a peace accord with the Palestinians without an agreement regarding the Old City and the Temple Mount will not solve the dispute over Jerusalem, according to a draft of a working paper over a future division of Jerusalem prepared by a Jerusalem think tank. The study, released on Sunday, finds that such a withdrawal without an accord is likely to have serious security repercussions. The study, which was carried out by the liberal Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies ahead of next month's planned US peace conference, deals with some of the prickly and intricate legal issues that will need to be worked out in the event that such a pullout ever happens in the future. The academics and experts note that any Israeli pullout from Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem without an agreement is likely to lead to serious deterioration in the security situation in the country, both because it will be viewed by the Palestinians as an additional indication of the weakening of Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem, and because the local Arab residents who are cut off from their jobs and the holy places in Jerusalem as a result could end up assisting or even joining Palestinian terror groups due to their increased animosity towards Israeli policies. The study also finds that withdrawing from Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem - even as part of an agreement with the Palestinians - would not result in the end of conflict unless it includes Judaism's holiest site. "Removing Arab neighborhoods from Jerusalem would not solve the question of Jerusalem so long as it did not include the Old City and the Temple Mount," the think tank's Prof. Prof. Ya'acov Bar-Siman-Tov writes. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has suggested ceding as many as six Arab neighborhoods on the periphery of the city as part of a final peace agreement with the Palestinians. Palestinians have rejected the idea, demanding control over all of east Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount. If Israel cedes control of their neighborhoods to the Palestinian Authority, Arab residents of east Jerusalem could choose to move to Israel, the draft by legal experts at the Jerusalem think tank states. The unfinished report notes that these individuals would have the right to do so. "[Arab] residents of east Jerusalem will in practice have the option of moving to another place in Jerusalem and to maintain their status as residents of Israel, or of remaining in their place of residence and thereby lose their rights as residents of Israel," former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Dr. Robbie Sabel wrote. Israeli public opinion polls have shown that a majority of Israeli Jews are against any division of Jerusalem, while even the city's Arab residents offer mixed views over such a move.

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