New study proposes alternatives for Jerusalem's 'historical basin'

'We are dealing with a faraway vision.'

troops near dome of the  (photo credit: AP [file])
troops near dome of the
(photo credit: AP [file])
International intervention in administering Jerusalem's holy sites is just one of several suggestions for solving the city's conflicts proposed in a new study of the problem by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. The study, presented in a book to be published on Tuesday, examines "Jerusalem's historical basin - difficulties and alternative answers." It was conducted over a two-year period and headed by Israel Prize winner and international legal expert, Prof. Ruth Lapidoth. The basin refers to the Old City of Jerusalem and the holy sites surrounding it, including the Mount of Olives. The study notes the area is considered the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and is sacred to all three monotheistic religions. In this regard, it argues that the archeological excavations near the Mughrabi Gate outside the Temple Mount intensify tensions in the area. The study suggests integrating a third party in running the site so long as an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians has not yet been reached, but it doesn't say who this might be. Addressing subjects including the area's residents and their civic and legal status, sovereignty, economic questions, municipal services, security issues, and cultural legacy, the study offers five different alternatives for the future. The first would see Israeli management of the area, with Palestinian autonomy over their sacred sites. The second would see the reverse, with Palestinian control and Jewish autonomy. A third idea would divide the area between the parties and have international aegis over the sensitive sites, while a fourth postulates joint management, with international back-up in case an agreement is broken. The last alternative would have management of the basin area allocated to a third party, which would delegate authority to both sides in matters such as education and administration of the holy places. One chapter in the book, written by Ora Ahimeir, deals with the issue of flags in the area. Her suggestions range from banning all parties from raising their national flags in the zone, to using a new and neutral flag for the area. "We are dealing with a faraway vision," Ahimeir said Monday. "The negotiations over Jerusalem's future haven't even been placed on the agenda yet, but when it comes to politics, nothing is expected, so you ought to be ready with suggestions, alternatives and creative ideas."