Gershon Baskin feels that if we want Jerusalem to be recognized as the eternal capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, it must also be recognized as the eternal capital of the State of Palestine and the Palestinian people.
Concrete steps are necessary to bring back the calm,not empty words of renewed peace process. For example, Netanyahu should indicate to Abbas that there is no objection to having the PLO Executive committee come to Al Aqsa for prayers and to see that Israel is not doing anything to damage the mosques. There is no trust between the sides so no Palestinian believes that Israel is not changing the status quo.
The so-called status quo was changed during the beginning of Oslo – Israel recognized the Palestinian Waqf officials on al Aqsa and not just the Jordanian, PA Preventive security personnel worked on the mount in agreement with the Israeli police and shin bet, much fewer Israelis visited then and they were accompanied by Waqf officials, not Israeli police – I myself was there on several occasions with groups working on the future of Jerusalem and we were never accompanied by Israeli police. Palestinian preventive security people were also deployed in the Old City – particularly the Muslim quarter and in Palestinian neighborhoods – particularly the Shuafat Refugee camp.
Back then no one spoke about the fact that these are all symbols of sovereignty. They are – that is 100% true. A word about Israel’s so-called sovereignty in Jerusalem. In the 18th and 19th centuries sovereignty was declared and if you had the military might, it was respected. In the 20th and 21st centuries, sovereignty is granted by recognition.
If other states recognize your sovereignty, then it becomes real. Today not one country in the world recognizes Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem (not in West Jerusalem nor in East Jerusalem). The issue of sovereignty in Jerusalem must be dealt with through agreement.
Not one country in the world has their embassy in Jerusalem.
Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem will only be recognized when Palestine’s sovereignty in Jerusalem is also recognized. Israel can claim sovereignty, but it doesn’t really have it. If we want Jerusalem to be recognized as the eternal capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, it must also be recognized as the eternal capital of the State of Palestine and the Palestinian people.
Gershon is an advisor to Israeli, Palestinian and International Prime Ministers on the Middle East Peace Process and the founder and director of IPCRI, the Israeli-Palestinian Public Policy Institute. He was the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel between Israel and Hamas for the release of 1,027 prisoners – mainly Palestinians and Arab-Israelis of which 280 were sentenced to life in prison for planning and perpetrating various attacks against Jewish targets that resulted in the killing of 569 Israelis in exchange for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit. Gershon is actively involved in research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, environmental security, political strategy, peace education, economics, culture and in the development of affordable solar projects with the goal of providing clean electricity for 50 million people by 2020.