While it is highly arguable whether or not current US-brokered Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have made any more progress than previous attempts to forge a deal, Secretary of State John Kerry has managed to keep the negotiations rolling for well over six months. But he’s about to hit a wall: Jerusalem.
Israeli officials who met with Kerry during his most recent visit insisted there is a consensus among the Israeli public for reaching a final status peace agreement that leads to the creation of a Palestinian state. And they are right. But what is also true is that the vast majority of Israelis have consistently said they are unwilling to redivide Jerusalem and surrender the city’s eastern half to become the capital of that new Palestinian state.
Certain members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government fear he is ready to buckle under American pressure, and are preparing next week to introduce legislation that would allow the Knesset to nix negotiations over the future status of Jerusalem.
On the other side, Palestinian leaders have repeatedly committed themselves to never signing any deal that does not include Palestinian control of eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City and its Temple Mount.
Washington has long recognized the impossible hurdle that Jerusalem represents. That is why the issue of Jerusalem has always been pushed aside and designated a “final status” topic to be discussed at a later date. But that date is soon approaching, and Jerusalem itself is likely to prove precisely why a genuine man-made peace under the current circumstances is simply unattainable.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise:
“In that day I will make Jerusalem a stumbling block for all people; all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth gather against it.” Zechariah 12:3