The following was written many years ago when there was optimism for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. At that time, Jerusalem and the West Bank were the most crucial considerations in the negotiations. Unfortunately a peace treaty was never signed and the current situation in the Middle East makes the potential for Palestinian Israeli peace even more implausible. The following may be fantasy but after nearly 70 years of animosity, 70 years of violence bringing violence, a new approach, if there is an opportunity for diplomacy, would seem appropriate.
“…To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support—to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective—to strengthen its shield…and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.”
John F Kennedy, 1961
“Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You”
Perhaps these words provide a key to opening the door to peace in the Middle East? The following concept is idealistic, but then idealism and the willingness to espouse and implement policy based thereon, can create great changes. Presently, in the mid-east, Jerusalem is the city that divides…a core issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But this holy city should, ideally, be the city that unites. It should realize its prophetic stature as the “City of Peace”.
Under the political leadership and diplomacy of the United Nations and the United States, Jerusalem could be made an international city-state, a “corpus separatum”, as has been previously suggested by UN General Assembly Resolution 181 and as lobbied for by the Holy See. In support of this action, MOVE the UN TO JERUSALEM making this assembly of sovereign states the foundation of the new government of the “new” Jerusalem. By doing so, and for the following reasons, a lasting peace may be established—this holy place may fulfill its “destiny” as a truly holy city becoming a model for peace and the betterment of all mankind.
This newly established sovereign international city-state, Jerusalem, would require a new means of governance. This new government might be modeled on a bicameral system with two legislative/administrative “branches” having coordinated interdependent responsibility and unified authority. The representatives of one branch would be designated by and responsible to the United Nations. The other branch would be composed of equal numbers of representatives from both Israel and a new Palestinian State. Additionally, each of the three religions that consider Jerusalem a Holy City would be included; having non-voting advisory/consulting representation with perhaps the right to cast deciding votes, under specified circumstances, if the upper two branches were deadlocked on an issue that must be resolved.
Why would either side in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict even consider such a plan?
· The UN would enhance its position as the premier institution of world statesmanship being at the fulcrum of one of the most volatile sites of conflict in the world.
· The UN would create a new Palestinian State as it established Israel in the past.
· If the UN were moved to Jerusalem, it would bring economic growth with an influx of capital, international diplomatic prestige requiring/producing stability, an impetus for responsible social and political policy and a decrease in the likelihood of local aggression and war.
· Moving the United Nations, or at least its major diplomatic departments, from New York to Jerusalem would require development of new office space, embassies, hotels/motels, transportation infrastructure, housing, etc. In this effort many new jobs would be created. This massive economic development and the capital that it would produce would be a boon to Israel and a new Palestinian State that could be used as an enticement toward accepting the parameters of this agreement. The intense economic benefits, and hopefully the social interdependence produced, could be the buttress for this entire governmental structure.
· Generated funds could also be utilized for free loans, low-interest bearing loans and/or restitution/compensation of monetary/real estate claims of both Arab and Jewish displaced persons. A judiciary, selected from the local population by the UN governing wing, subject to review/veto by the Israel/Palestinian branch of government, might decide these dispensations. This judiciary could also be in place for civil and criminal matters.
· The prestige of being a major center of world politics would hopefully create a deep sense of the need for responsible diplomacy locally and a profound understanding of the necessity for regional stability. Under this plan several diverse groups would be “forced” or compelled to work together to provide a viable government and through open discussion circumvent violent aggression. Terrorist acts in Jerusalem would no longer be only an act against Palestinians or Israelis but also an act against the new Jerusalem City State, as well as, and most significantly, the UN representing the world’s nations. To agitate for war in the region at the footsteps of the house of the cooperating sovereign nations of the world, now making its home in Jerusalem, would hopefully be understood to be injudicious.
· By its local presence, the UN and its guiding principles might influence acceptance of diversity, social justice, and reinforce the precept that differences in viewpoints need not lead to enmity and that open debate may prevent military hostility. The UN would hopefully “walk softly” but let it be known, that if it must, it could wield a “big stick”. In addition, this would place the UN more proximate to the regions of the world needing its influence most while shedding its physical connection to the USA, which would be perceived by some, both foreign and domestic, as a positive evolution of this organization.
· Allow the new Palestinian state to be included in the deliberations of the UN Security Council perhaps attaining voting membership by establishing a stable government committed to ending terrorism and the acceptance of the State of Israel.
Additionally, creation of the new Palestinian State would include:
The local presence of the UN, the “mother” of Israel and hopefully the future "mother" of a new Palestinian State, would legitimize/integrate both nations’ visions of Jerusalem. And in partnership with the UN, Israel would maintain partial control while the new Palestinian State would be enfranchised with each being voting partners in Jerusalem’s governing body. Both will have to accept compromises—compromises through which each will have something to lose and something to gain—most significantly gaining long-lasting peace secured by the commitment of the international community as represented by the UN. In this manner, the mission of the UN and the interest of the world would resonate with the prophetic ideals that Jerusalem ought to represent. Perhaps, the over sixty- year moebius of violence might come to an end. And in so doing, the UN would “enlarge the area in which its writ may run”. Might it create a shelter of peace spreading over the Middle East and mankind? May it begin in Jerusalem, the City of Peace!
This plan in no way is meant to condone or reward extremists. It is meant to hopefully bring to an end the nearly 70 year on-going cycle of violence resulting in the maiming and killing of innocents. Additionally, the prospect of the region being politically stable as well as sharing in an expanding economy would hopefully strengthen moderate political and social attitudes supported by an improving quality of life for all. Optimistically, new benevolent perspectives may prevail so that people will no longer feel constrained to battle for their humanity with violence but rather with cooperation and amity.
written by cjstegman