The Jerusalem Problem


Jerusalem has been a city of great interest since 1947 when the UN declared it corpus separatum. Both Israel and Palestine claim it is their capital, and it is one of many contentious issues that has divided relations between the two sides, often to the point of violence. So what are the possible solutions to this rather unique scenario?

The two widely touted solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are the one and two state solutions, both of which could work or fail depending on its implementation, and also leaves the issue of Jerusalem unsolved. But one at a time – what could a one state solution look like?

The ideal one state solution would be the territory of Israel and the Occupied Territories (not the Golan Heights, which was annexed from and should be returned to Syria) combining to form a single country. Within this new country, the entire population would be granted equal citizenship and equal rights without racial or religious discrimination, and Jerusalem would stand as the capital. Anyone with knowledge of the current conflict would look at that and laugh (or cry) at how unrealistic that idea is. The real one state solution, being viciously adopted by Israel, the Trump Administration, and the Zionist movement today, involves the complete removal of all but the Jewish majority from Greater Israel. This would see Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish State while displacing millions of Palestinians and spitting in the face of their human rights. Unless the situation changes, this appears to be the likely outcome, even if the UN and the rest of the world condemns it.

The two state solution is seen by most as the more diplomatic option. This takes numerous forms, the most common being the formation of a Palestinian State alongside Israel, following the 1967 borders. East Jerusalem would be the capital of this new Palestine. It has also been suggested that Jerusalem could be a joint capital for both nations. As with the ideal one state solution, current circumstances show this option to be just as ludicrous, even if it is the most viable for all parties. Israel would never accept anything other than Jerusalem as their sole capital. But what if there was a different solution for Jerusalem? What if, instead of clinging to it as their holy right, it belonged to everyone?

Whether a one or a two state solution is adopted (preferably the positive version of either), Jerusalem could take on a city state status similar to that of the Vatican. It would be independent of Israel and/or Palestine, and it would be governed by representatives of all Abrahamic faiths that have religious connections with the city. Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all have history with the city, so rather than fight over who has the greater ‘claim’ to it, why not join together and become a beacon of religious tolerance? Given that this would require rational and collective thought, I doubt that this would ever be seriously considered. But however bizarre it might sound, it does make sense. It takes the issue of Jerusalem out of the debate and give all religions equal control over the city.

Seven Palestinians, including two children, were killed and hundreds were injured during protests carried out on Friday. It has been six months since Palestinians in the Gaza Strip started mass protests for their right to return to their homes and break away from Israeli control.

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