Peace Begins with Jerusalem!? - Foundation Office Palestinian Territories
Konstanze von Gehlen, DED advisor at the KAS Ramallah, opened the conference together with the two co-directors of IPCRI, Dr. Hanna Siniora and Dr. Gershon Baskin.
In front of 100 Israeli and Palestinian participants from politics, academics and media, as well as representatives of international organizations in Jerusalem, Israeli and Palestinian politicians, political analysts, and members of civil rights groups discussed the importance of Jerusalem for Israelis and Palestinians, the recent escalation of the situation, and future prospects.
The first panel of the conference dealt with the current state of affairs in East-Jerusalem, especially in Silvan and Sheikh Jarrah. It was pointed out that settlement activities in these neighbourhoods have increased recently and that there is a strategy of the settlers, aided by the municipality to strengthen the Israeli presence in East-Jerusalem. Consequently, the eviction of the Arab owners from their houses and the ensuing difficulty to divide Jerusalem along the parameters of the Two-State-Solution certainly constitutes a great obstacle to the current peace negotiations. Daniel Seidemann, an attorney and Jerusalem expert, added that there is a danger that the current clashes in Silvan and Sheikh Jarrah could spread elsewhere around Jerusalem and Israel.
Dahlia Scheindlin and Jamil Rabah, two political analysts, presented their findings of public polls conducted among Israelis and Palestinians. It was stressed that the Jerusalem issue still is a crucial matter of discussion within both populations, and that there is no common perception at all, but that there is a wide range of different opinions.
Eventually, solution approaches for the current difficult situation in Jerusalem were presented. Most of the speakers agreed that the city should be (politically) divided, but that the two parts then have to work together closely. Dr. Gershon Baskin stated in his conclusion that “Jerusalem will only be one city, when it will be recognized being two cities”.