Palestinians agree Israel rules Jerusalem, world treats as divided.

Rabin & Arafat sign maps prior to the Oslo II signing at the White House. President Bill Clinton, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Hussein look on, September 28, 1995 (photo credit: GPO)

The Palestinian Arabs and Israelis last managed to negotiate an agreement in September 1995. That agreement, Oslo II, was intended to be an interim agreement after which a permanent resolution was to be reached in five years. However, five years later in September 2000, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat walked away from the Israeli peace proposal and launched multi-year riots which claimed thousands of lives.

The terms of Oslo II still live on, decades later.

Goals of Oslo II

Oslo II was meant to set in place an interim Palestinian Authority and governmental structures which would become the basis of a Palestinian political structure. Oslo II had NO calls for an independent Palestinian state, but stated the goal of the negotiations was to lead to a permanent settlement based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

  • Security Council Resolution 338 was declared after Egypt attacked Israel in the Yom Kippur War. The goal was to stop hostilities and commence peace negotiations.  The thrust of SC 338 was to implement SC 242 to establish “a just and durable peace
  • Security Council 242 was drafted after the Six Day War in 1967. In that war, Israel preemptively attacked Egypt and Syria that were readying an attack on Israel, and Israel defended itself from an attack from Jordan.

Without delving into the nuances of SC 242 here, the thrust of the resolution was to have Israeli armed forces pull back from some territories which it won in the 1967 War and that all states respect

the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area… free from threats or acts of force.

It also proposed

a just settlement of the refugee problem.

Oslo II built on these UN Security Council goals with an interim roadmap. It began with Israel’s handing over certain territories to the Palestinian Authority (Gaza and Jericho) as well as other major Palestinian cities.

Status of Jerusalem in Oslo II

Jerusalem is mentioned eight times in the Oslo II Accords. In every instance, the entire city is referenced, not just the eastern half that Israel acquired from the Jordanians and Palestinian Arabs in 1967.

The first six times “Jerusalem” appeared in the Oslo II agreement relate to future Palestinian elections in which Palestinian Arabs located in Jerusalem would be able to participate. The remaining two times specifically state that Jerusalem is a point for final status negotiations:

  • ARTICLE XVII Jurisdiction
    1. In accordance with the DOP, the jurisdiction of the Council will cover West Bank and Gaza Strip territory as a single territorial unit, except for:
    2. issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations: Jerusalem, settlements, specified military locations, Palestinian refugees, borders, foreign relations and Israelis;
  • ARTICLE XXXI Final Clauses
    5. Permanent status negotiations will commence as soon as possible, but not later than May 4, 1996, between the Parties. It is understood that these negotiations shall cover remaining issues, including: Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements, borders, relations and cooperation with other neighbors, and other issues of common interest.

According to the agreements executed by the Palestinians and Israelis:

  • Jerusalem is not part of the West Bank, as it is broken out separately
  • Jerusalem is not a “settlement”, as the agreement stated later that “settlements” are entities in the West Bank and Gaza – “For the purpose of this Agreement, “the Settlements” means, in the West Bank the settlements in Area C; and in the Gaza Strip – the Gush Katif and Erez settlement areas, as well as the other settlements in the Gaza Strip, as shown on attached map No. 2
  • Israel controls Jerusalem – “Israel shall continue to exercise powers and responsibilities not so transferred”

There is therefore no basis for any of the United Nations, the EU or the Unites States to claim that Jerusalem is a settlement and that Jews should have any restrictions from living anywhere in the city.  Should there be any modifications to the rule of the city, it will be made by mutual consent in permanent status negotiations.

Yet, the world ignores the Oslo II foundation document of a peace agreement.

United Nations Ignores Oslo II on Jerusalem

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon made an address on the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” in 2013:

On Jerusalem’s Jewish “settlements”:

All settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem must cease.  Measures that prejudge final status issues are not to be recognized.

Announcements of thousands of new housing units cannot be reconciled with the goal of a two-state solution and risk the collapse of negotiations”

These statements ignore Oslo II in many respects: it broke apart “East Jerusalem” as a distinct entity; it claimed that Jews living in “East Jerusalem” were in “settlements”; it called for a two-state solution (while not in Oslo II, both the Israelis and Palestinians later agreed to such plan); it suggested that Jews living in “East Jerusalem” hurt a two-state solution.

On Palestinian homes in “East Jerusalem”:

“Of particular concern are developments in East Jerusalem, where this year alone, some 100 [Arab] structures have been demolished, displacing 300 people.  Hundreds more Palestinians are at risk because their homes were built without Israeli-issued building permits”

The UN leader voiced concern with more Jews moving into eastern Jerusalem and not enough Arabs being accommodated there.

On the Permanent Status Negotiations of Jerusalem:

“Jerusalem is to emerge from negotiations as the capital of two States, with arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all”

Ban Ki-Moon voiced a conclusion not made in Oslo II and “prejudged” an outcome that Jerusalem must be divided, even though Israel already divided the UN’s “Holy Basin” when it gave Bethlehem to the Palestinian Authority 20 years earlier.  Amazing commentary from someone who concerned with “prejudging final status issues.”

European Union Ignores Oslo II on Jerusalem

The EU has taken positions adopted by the Palestinian Authority which are outside of the agreements reached by Israel and the PA in Oslo II:

On Jerusalem’s Jewish “settlements”:

“EU considers that settlement building anywhere in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law, constitutes an obstacle to peace and threatens to make a two-state solution impossible.”

On Palestinians in “East Jerusalem”:

“The EU supports [Arab] institution building work in East Jerusalem, notably in the areas of health, education and the judiciary.” 

On the Permanent Status Negotiations of Jerusalem:

“the EU has repeatedly confirmed its deep concern about accelerated settlement expansion in the West Bank including East Jerusalem. This expansion prejudges the outcome of final status negotiations and threatens the viability of an agreed two-state solution”
“The EU considers that the peace negotiations should include the resolution of all issues surrounding the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states. The EU will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.”

Like the United Nations, the EU ignored the mutual recognition of both Palestinians Arabs and Israel that only Israel administers all of Jerusalem, and any modification to such arrangement must be made by mutual agreement. Oslo II made no suggestion that the holy city be divided.

The United States Ignores Oslo II on Jerusalem

On Jerusalem’s Jewish “settlements”:

Jen Psaki, Spokesperson for the US Department of State said on October 27, 2014:

we continue to make our position absolutely clear that we view settlement activity as illegitimate and unequivocally oppose unilateral steps that prejudge the future of Jerusalem. Israel’s leaders have said they would support a pathway to a two-state solution, but moving forward with this type of action would be incompatible with the pursuit of peace”

On the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem: While the US does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel or any country (and therefore does not maintain on embassy in Jerusalem), it has nevertheless decided to establish an office for Palestinians in Jerusalem.  The United States Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (USSC) sounds like it services both Israel and the PA, but its mission is to serve and assist the PA in meeting its security needs.

The USSC directs all facets of U.S. security sector assistance to the Palestinian Authority and synchronizes international supporting efforts…The USSC assists the Palestinian Authority to transform and professionalize its security sector.

The US decided to place such office to assist the PA in Jerusalem, rather than Bethlehem or Jericho. The address is home of the Consul General of the US in Jerusalem which serves US citizens from Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

On the Permanent Status Negotiations of Jerusalem:  Back in 2009, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made a point that recognized that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, but said he was opposed to construction in “East Jerusalem”.

“The United States opposes new Israeli construction in East Jerusalem. The status of Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be resolved by the parties through negotiations and supported by the international community. Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations. Rather, both parties should return to negotiations without preconditions as soon as possible. The United States recognizes that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue for Israelis and Palestinians, and for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. We believe that through good faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that realizes the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem, and safeguards its status for people around the world.”


There have been very few agreements between the Palestinian Arabs and Israelis throughout history.  When the parties last mutually agreed to move forward with a peace process, they agreed that all of Jerusalem was controlled by Israel.  The agreement had no caveats about what Israel could or could not do anywhere in the city. It made no suggestion that the city was or would be divided.Despite that reality, a new perception has taken hold in world bodies that Israel should prohibit Jews from living in parts of their capital and holiest city.  It is being repeated more frequently and with greater force: at one point, world bodies opposed Israel building new neighborhoods in the eastern part of Jerusalem; now they decry Jews moving into existing homes that  they legally purchased privately.

How can Israel expect to negotiate a final status agreement if the world rejects the agreements Israel makes with Palestinian Arabs as it did with Oslo II? How can Israel enter negotiations when the world advances a prejudged outcome to such negotiations to which Israel never agreed?

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3 comments

  1. I am not entirely satisfied that the arguments presented here in favour of Israel are water tight. There are numerous lapses in logic particularly when reference is made to agreements.
    It is blatantly obvious that Israel is using her upper hand in actual control over Jerusalem in order to consolidate a concrete position with the aim at building up a reality from which Israel itself would claim that there is NO return. I fully agree with that strategy and that is not a “mere” emotional stance, but a very rational projection upon the complex realities encompassing the SUBSTANCE OF THE CONFLICTING PARTIES, THE JEWS AND THE ARABS.
    It is perfectly acceptable to be “biased’ in ANY conflict !!!
    My, the fundamental Jewish , argument contains my rationale behind the NECESSITY for a Jewish survival, indeed a defeat by the Jewish cause of those entities determined to harm my own interests. This is to say that the arab claims are not supported by any INHERENT RIGHTS prevailing over the PARTICULAR Jewish considerations. This is the very NEXUS of our conflict in which the Jewish cause ought to prevail and we, responsible Jews, are expected to back up. This is also to say that any principles of so called “objective” or :universal “rights DO NOT COME INTO PLAY at all. Those trumpeted God terms are but a farcical means of denying NATURAL, PROVIDENTIAL/historical ENTITLEMENTS.
    Denial of Jerusalem as an undivided RIGHTFUL Jewish place is only the perverse means by which Jewish considerations are being denied, the means by which anti Israel, indeed antisemitism is being perpetuated.
    Simply put, for the arabs ANYWHERE, the possession of Jerusalem IS NOT an existential sine qua non, whereas for the Jewish people, whether as a State form and/or as the last individual, Jerusalem is intrinsically , vitally INDISPENSABLE as an untouched, undivided entity. We shall welcome anyone with honourable intentions to dwell among us, but will not cede any part of what is ENTIRELY OURS. Nobody may claim any rights from the UNIQUE proprietors of Jerusalem, the founders and owners of this heart of our hearts, the Jewish people and their legitimate Jewish State, Israel. Hashem has entrusted us with building, caring, defending this uniquely source of Jewish existence, identity.
    Whether treaties articulate these principles explicitely or not, they MUST be considered without any caveats, any exclusions, respectively, they must be the staring point and the conclusion of any encounters and/or treaties.

    I could go on like this, but ,for now ,this should suffice…

  2. Must add that I look at the attached photo and am so moved seeing Itzhak Rabin and, believe it or not, I feel emotional toward King Hussein as well. I see him as a very decent bloke….
    The third character on the right signing something…. forget it, he is spoiling the scene big time…

  3. Excellent article. Lofty but excellent. So easy not to focus on the day to day issues of managing a large and growing municipality. And when every government in the world believes it has a say in that planning….the problems are ven more complex.

    For those interested in what the day to day reality of trying to administer Jerusalem is really like….this is an excellent insight

    http://jcpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Illegal-Building-Part-2a.pdf