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Charles G. Cogan: Slouching Toward Jerusalem

On December 8, the State Department issued the following statement: "The U.S. position on Jerusalem is clear and remains unchanged: that Jerusalem and all other permanent status issues must be resolved by the two parties themselves. It has been official U.S. policy for many years that the future status of Jerusalem is a permanent status issue...." Why did the State Department feel compelled to issue such a statement? Apparently, because in Brussels that same day, the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council issued a statement on the Middle East Peace Process, and one can only conclude that the U.S. government wanted to distance itself from the EU memo. On Jerusalem, the EU statement had this, inter alia, to say: "The Council recalls that it has never recognized the annexation of East Jerusalem. If there is to be a genuine peace, a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states." An earlier EU draft specifically stated that the Palestinian capital should be in East Jerusalem, but intense Israeli lobbying, including and especially among the new EU members from Eastern Europe, resulted in striking that reference in the final version. Usually, the American phrase that Israeli-Palestinian issues “must be settled by the parties themselves” is, in effect, a code word for allowing the Israelis perpetuate the status quo—the Israelis, of course, being by far the stronger party. At least the U.S. statement declared that Jerusalem remains an outstanding issue, and this is in itself important. It seems clear, however, that Washington, while openly favoring a “two-state” solution, cannot bring itself to advocate a “two-capitals” solution as well.



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