Steve Rosen, talking about the ongoing negotiations between Israel and the US over the settlement freeze, has this to say about one of the most difficult issues:
Israel will not accept the principle that any part of Jerusalem inside the juridical boundaries of the city that were recorded in the “Basic Law–Jerusalem” in 1980 be treated as merely “administered territory” like the West Bank. The United States has never recognized Israel’s law as binding, and in fact voted for U.N. Security Council Resolution 478 (1980) which described it as “Null and void…a violation of international law.” How will the U.S. explain the exclusion of Jerusalem from the terms of a settlement freeze?
This is a conflict whose time has come. Since 1948, the US has held the position that Israel does not have sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem — Israel’s capital city, referred to in the Torah as “the place where God will cause his name to dwell”, a place where other major religions which came after Judaism understood its its transcendent nature (or if you prefer, its mythic significance) and built their holy places.
Yasser Arafat insisted that there had never been a Jewish Temple, the Muslim Waqf that Israel allows to govern the Temple Mount tries to wipe out archaeological evidence for it, and the Palestinian Authority talks about “Arab East Jerusalem” as if there were no Jews living there before they were kicked out in 1948.
Nevertheless, plenty of Jewish blood was shed to get it back, and the “Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel” is an expression of the importance attached to it.
Although it is imaginable that Israel could transfer some Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem to the Palestinians in a peace agreement, it is inconceivable that the city could be redivided along 1948-67 lines. And it is even more inconceivable that Israel would entertain for a moment the postion of the State Department that denies her sovereignty over her capital.
Recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel goes along with recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people. These are Zionist bottom lines.
If Barack Obama is truly committed to the continuation of the Jewish state — as the President has said on several occasions — and if he wants some real leverage with the Israeli government , then now is the time for him to have a word with the Arabist State Department bureaucrats who are responsible for this absurd, ahistorical and insulting policy.