Palestinians express frustration + Daniel Seidemann does too

Reuters reported that the Palestinian leadership sent a letter, signed by Riyad Mansour as Ambassador of Palestine, to UNSG BAN Ki-Moon and to the UN Security Council, accusing Israel “of planning to commit further ‘war crimes’ by expanding Jewish settlements after the Palestinians won de facto U.N. recognition of statehood and warned that Jerusalem must be held accountable”.

In the letter, Mansour wrote that Israel, after the decision to upgrade Palestine to state status last Thursday, was acting “in a rogue, hostile and arrogant manner, contravening all principles and rules of international law and reacting with contempt to the will of the international community”.

Israel was bitterly opposed to the Palestinian UN move, and warned it would retaliate — which it has started to do by announcing new settlement building around north, south and east of Jerusalem.,

In February 2011, the Obama cast the only negative vote on a Palestinian-drafted UN Security Council resolution against Israel’s settlement building, as we reported at the time here:
“All of the other 14 members of the UNSC voted in favor of the resolution, which would have condemned Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. At least 120 UN member states co-sponsored the resolution, despite a few last-minute drop-outs… The draft resolution, if it had passed, would have ‘demanded that “Israel, as the occupying power, immediately and completely ceases all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem and that it fully respect its legal obligations in this regard”. The British Ambassador later made a point of saying not only that Israeli settlements are illegal, but also added that the three largest EU members hope to see Palestinian State by September of this year…The U.S. apparently preferred to say only that Israeli settlements were ‘illegitimate’.
From the State Dept. briefing:
QUESTION: Yes, Ambassador Rice, you say that you reject the continued building of settlements on the West Bank as being illegitimate. Yet you vote that no on a resolution that calls it illegal. Why is that, considering that the State Department, as far back as 1978, considered settlement activities illegal?
AMBASSADOR RICE: The United States has not characterized settlement activity as illegal since, I believe, 1980. And – but what we do believe firmly and have reiterated forcefully, including today, is that continued settlement activity is not legitimate”…

Meanwhile, Israeli-American lawyer and Jerusalem expert Daniel Seaman has been issuing warnings that could not be stronger, saying that the two-state solution, which he said is essential to the preservation of Israel’s existence, will soon become impossible because of the increased Israeli settlement-building activity in and around Jerusalem.

Daniel Seidemann standing in front of Maale Adumim - photo by Matthew J. Bell

Daniel Seidemann standing in front of Maale Adumim - photo by Matthew J. Bell - December 2012

Daniel Seidemann explained his concerns — in particular,his intense concern about an adviser’s advice to Obama to walk away from this problem — to Public Radio International/The World’s Middle East correspondent Matthew J. Bell:

Danny Seidemann diplomatically urges Palestinians/Arabs to “begin to educate themselves about Jerusalem”

In the current issue of Bitterlemons, Israeli lawyer Danny Seidemann, an expert on East Jerusalem specializing in Israeli-Palestinian relations who founded the Ir-Amim organization [which works for an equitably shared Jerusalem], writes that: “Any attempt to construe the API [Arab Peace Initiative] in a manner that falls short of ‘full-stop’ Palestinian or Arab sovereignty on the Haram/Mount would be an exercise in self-delusion. This is the real challenge for the API. Achieving an Israeli waiver of sovereign claims to the Mount/Haram and the surrounding areas will be one of the most daunting challenges of any permanent status agreement. The potential to secure an Israeli waiver of sovereign claims, to the extent such potential exists, is embedded in the logic of the API. Israelis correctly perceive Palestinian/Arab denials of historic Jewish connections to Jerusalem as a litmus test, disclosing the acceptance or rejection of authentic Jewish connections to Israel/Palestine. Absent an affirmative acceptance of these connections, demands to cede Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount would almost certainly be rejected out of hand, as such an action would for Israelis be accompanied by a sense of violation and feared loss of legitimacy of the entire historic enterprise that is modern Israel. On the other hand were the permanent status agreement, loyal to the inner logic of the API, to include declarations recognizing the legitimacy of Jewish attachments and provisions guaranteeing the inviolability of Jewish equities under Palestinian/Arab sovereignty, the calculus could change significantly. In effect, the Palestinian/Arab sovereign would declare itself the custodian of Jewish memories and their physical embodiments. The act of assuring protection of archeological artifacts and guaranteeing access for non-Muslims to the Haram/Mount, would significantly increase the willingness of Israelis to entertain the possibility of such sovereignty. And, indeed, such a development is not implausible: today, from Rabat to Beirut, Cairo and Damascus, Arab governments are restoring Jewish synagogues because the historic, legitimate Jewish presence in their countries is part of their interpretation of Arab civilization–an interpretation shared by the API.

Seidemann writes: “In conclusion, the API has the potential to ‘speak the language’ of Jerusalem well. Its focus on the green line, with agreed modifications, is consistent with the growing consensus in Israel that Israeli rule over East Jerusalem is untenable in the long run. And indeed, based on the API’s principles, validating Jewish attachments to areas that fall under Palestinian/Arab sovereignty–an act that would, in parallel, demand validation of Muslim attachments to sites within Israel, like the Mamilla cemetery–would likely be far less difficult than resolving what for the Palestinians and the Arab world is the highly problematic Israeli demand for recognition of ‘the Jewish character’ of Israel. All that said, the concern, even passion, in the Arab world regarding Jerusalem/al-Quds is undoubtedly genuine–but not always accompanied by a familiarity with the rival equities in the city, an appreciation of the city’s real-time complexities, or a respect for the genuine concerns of Israelis and Jews. For these reasons, stakeholders in the API need to begin to educate themselves and their populations about Jerusalem. In doing so, they can begin to leverage the API to make real progress on Jerusalem. They can use it to generate potential permanent status positions that are compatible with both the complexities of the city and the sensitivities in the Jewish, Muslim and Christian worlds, and that contribute to building confidence in the API as a tool to energize Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and, ultimately, achieve Israel-Arab peace“.

This article was published on 12 January 2011 here.