Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Capital disappointments

On the same day that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hinted that the Israel might have to share its capital city with an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank of the Jordan River, he refused to ease the system of roadblocks that has restricted the movement of people and goods in the West Bank, the Reuters international news service reported today. Restrictions imposed by Israel, ostensibly for security, have damaged the Palestinian economy and made the passage to a negotiated settlement even longer. These actions are contradictory. Either the Israelis and Palestinians are going to accept each other as equals and live as neighbors, or there is not going to be peace in the Middle East. But the partition of Jerusalem should not be an issue. Israel had decades of negative experience with a divided capital when East Jerusalem was part of Jordan, and has shown itself to be a good steward of the holy sites. Keeping Jerusalem in Israel is the only way to protect access for all religions, which was not the case before 1967. If the Palestinians are offered an independent self-governing country with international recognition, even if Ramallah or another city is its capital, they are not going to turn it down.

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