Territorial disputes: the Israel-Palestine difference (Part 2) [Post 42]

There are many academic and non-academic articles in many languages about the Israel-Palestine difference. Today we focus on academic studies about this TERRITORIAL DISPUTE.

Previous post about the Israel-Palestine difference (part of the TERRITORIAL DISPUTES series):

Today’s post include several interesting articles and studies that offer a variety of views about the same difference.

The first document introduces the key elements in law and realpolitik. The factsheet by BICOM (British Israel Communications and Research Centre) offers a very brief insight into the Israel-Palestine difference focusing on Jerusalem.

The second article introduces “Donald Trump’s Generous Offer on Jerusalem.” Until very recent, Jerusalem was not a de jure capital for Israel or Palestine. At best, it was the de facto capital of Israel. The article explores Trump’s recent announcement.

The third article presents a research conducted by CIA back in 1978. It only came to the open in 2013. “Jerusalem: Some Aspects of a Complex Problem” concluded compromise between the opposing parties is unlikely.

The fourth article reviews the significance of the sovereignty question which is legal and political in nature. A concept that can play a role in a future solution by having an ample conception of “sovereignty”: internationalization.

“Is Jerusalem Really Negotiable?” brings a fifth analysis. The positive outcome seems to be the acknowledgement the Israel-Palestine difference is not a zero sum game. Yet, negotiation is an international dispute settlement procedure that cannot guarantee a solution.

Last but not least, I include a link to a final article that presents the US views about the dispute by examining presidential speeches from Clinton to Obama.


Briefing by BICOM (British Israel Communications and Research Centre)

History and politics of Jerusalem (2017)

“Israelis and Palestinians both claim Jerusalem as their capital. The State of Israel has proclaimed Jerusalem to be the “undivided, eternal capital of Israel” and maintains its primary governmental institutions there. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) ultimately foresees the eastern part of the city as the capital of the State of Palestine. The international community has accepted the de facto application of Israeli law in West Jerusalem while the claim to internationalise Jerusalem is not seriously raised anymore.”

“There are no legal documents that clearly resolve the status of Jerusalem. The Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles (DoP), signed between Israel and the PLO in September 1993, leaves open the status of Jerusalem. Article V of the DoP says that the permanent status of Jerusalem is one of the issues to be agreed by both parties in bilateral negotiations.”
History and politics of Jerusalem (link to complete article)


Donald Trump’s Generous Offer on Jerusalem


Jerusalem Quarterly

“We write this editorial as Israel celebrates, and the rest of the world condemns, Donald Trump’s declaration of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It is pertinent to recall on this issue Arthur Koestler’s famous quip, made a century ago in reference to the Balfour Declaration, that “one nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third.””

“Two unintended consequences emerge from the new U.S. position: first, it brings the status of Jerusalem back to the limelight, after it was pushed to the back burner by the Syrian and Yemeni wars; and second, it has clearly placed the United States outside of the international consensus with regard to any future peace process over the status of the city, or indeed within the Arab-Israeli conflict. This has opened the door to other global and regional actors, particularly Europe, Russia, and Turkey, as future mediators.”

“Underlying the objections of the majority of countries, including the United States until recently (that is, until Trump’s election), to Israeli control of Jerusalem has been UN General Assembly resolution 181, which affirmed the partition plan for Palestine and the creation of an international zone in Jerusalem known as the corpus separatum. That notion established in the city a special international regime in which both Palestinians and Israelis would have a dual national identity in the city. Given the slow death of the peace process and the de facto withdrawal of the United States from a mediating role, is it time – seventy years later – to revive this plan for Jerusalem?”

Donald Trump’s Generous Offer on Jerusalem (link to complete article)


Jerusalem: Some Aspects of a Complex Problem

A research Paper

(Original: 1978. Approved for release CIA historical collections division November 2013)

There are some Israelis who would give up the Golan, some Israelis who would give up the Sinai, and some would give up the West Bank. But I do not think that you can find any Israelis who are willing to give up Jerusalem.”-MayorTeddy Kolleri (July 1977).”

“The oficial position of the PLO toward Israel has continued to be insistence on the replacement of the state of Israel with a multiracial secular state.”

In sum, the positions of the parties on the Israelis have not significantly altered the status of question of sovereignty, over Jerusalem are irreconcilable. Without dramatic and fundamental form political changes in Israel, the Arab states, or both, any compromise on Jerusalem appears unlikely.”
Jerusalem: Some Aspects of a Complex Problem (link to complete article)


Sovereignty in Jerusalem

Catholic University Law Review

States recognizing Israel have not recognized Israeli sovereignty over either the western or eastern sector of Jerusalem, despite nearly half a century of Israeli control in West Jerusalem, and nearly thirty years in East Jerusalem.”

“Regarding West Jerusalem, states maintaining diplomatic relations with Israel have avoided locating their embassies there, placing them instead in Tel Aviv, precisely because they consider the status of Jerusalem to be undetermined. As for East Jerusalem, objection to Israel’s control is exhibited through collective criticism of Israel at the United Nations.”

“To assert its legitimacy in Palestine, Israel relies primarily on the 1947 General Assembly resolution, but this resolution yields no argument for sovereignty in Jerusalem,75 since the resolution proposed internationalization.”

“From the standpoint of territorial right, as this notion is understood in international law, Palestine has a valid claim to Jerusalem. That does not mean that it could not agree to a solution whereby the City would be internationalized, or whereby it would be divided or controlled jointly. Jerusalem is one issue among several to be resolved between Palestine and Israel, and the parties are free to make concessions on one issue in order to gain an advantage on another.”
Sovereignty in Jerusalem (link to complete article)


Is Jerusalem Really Negotiable?

Jewish Political Studies Review

“Despite the many proposals for negotiating the Jerusalem issue, any agreed plan for resolving the future status of the Holy City has defied generations of negotiators.

Israel’s formal position proved paradoxical. While the Oslo Agreements in September 1993 made Jerusalem one of the subjects for the permanent status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin made clear in his final Knesset address in October 1995 that Jerusalem was to remain united under Israeli sovereignty. But by formalizing past understandings with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan over its role in the administration of the Muslim holy sites, through instruments like the Washington Declaration, he appeared to be drawing a distinction between sovereignty over Jerusalem, which in his view had to be retained by Israel, and an international administrative role for the holy sites, which he was prepared to explore with Israel’s eastern neighbor.

Thus, while insisting on Israeli sovereignty over a united Jerusalem, he did not view the issue of Jerusalem as a “zero sum game.” 


Final article for the reader (ref. presidential speeches from Clinton to Obama)
Jerusalem in the Courts and on the Ground (University of Missouri) [link to complete article]


Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @London1701

24th April 2018




  1. A few links I'd include. Geneva proposed border: http://www.geneva-accord.org/mainmenu/geneva-initiative-jerusalemGeneva is essentially the most amendable group of negotiators from both sides. Sort of a “what if the Israelis were just a little stubborn and the Palestinians were just a little less stubborn”. I FWIW don't agree with this map. Here are links to the proposals from Erekat (chief negotiator for many years for the Palestinians): https://www.aljazeera.com/palestinepapers/2011/01/2011122114545946119.htmlI wouldn't make this part of the official blog post but a cute comment. Bill Clinton had an interesting idea for the Al-Aqsa Mosque which both sides kinda liked at the time but got forgotten by history. For Muslims Al-Aqsa Mosque is holy. The mountain it is on is just dirt. The stuff underneath the Al-Aqsa are valuable historical artifacts but not holy. For Jews Al-Aqsa Mosque is a just some muslim building. The mountain is holy and the stuff ruins are the ruins of the Jewish temple and very holy. So Clinton proposed a simple solution. Palestinians get what's on top of the mountain, Jews get sovereignty of the mountain including what's underneath a vertical division.


  2. Excellent contribution! Thanks so much. I did not know about the Al-Aqsa Mosque's case. That is a very good example of how shifting the question from why you want this instead of what you want is so important.When I explain this point during my presentations I use as an example an orange and two people arguing about it. At first, there is no solution because both assume they want the same: the whole orange. When we think of asking each party, one may want only the skin; the other party may want the orange to make juice. Hence, by shifting the focus both parties get ALL they want from the same orange.Your example about the Al-Aqsa Mosque is one of many indications that cooperation and mutual understanding are possible.Best regards.


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