Russia's President Medvedev visits Jericho – supports Palestine State with East Jlem as capital

An interesting little moment in history: Russia’s President Dimitri Medvedev crosses from Jordan via the Allenby Bridge and visits the West Bank City of Jericho to pay a call on the Palestinian Authority. He does not go to Ramallah, and he does not go to Israel.

Simultaneously, thousands of Orthodox Christians have gathered in Jericho to celebrate the baptism of Christ along the Jordan River.

Haaretz reported that “Medvedev drove into the West Bank in a convoy from Amman airport in Jordan, crossing over the historic Allenby Bridge in an unusual route for a head of state that was dictated by an Israeli foreign ministry strike, which had forced him to cancel the Israel leg of his trip. Officials said they could not remember when a visitor of that level had used the Allenby crossing, which was shut down to normal traffic for the occasion. The crossing is controlled by Israeli immigration and security. Medvedev drew applause from Palestinians when he noted that ‘this is the first visit of a Russian president to Palestine not united with a visit to another country’ — a clear reference to Israel which would normally have been his first stop. Russia is a partner of the United States, European Union and United Nations in ‘the Quartet’ of international powers overseeing Middle East peace negotiations. A number of former Soviet bloc east European states that are now in the EU also recognized Palestine in 1988. But the United States and west European governments do not. Quartet foreign ministers were due to meet next month in Munich to discuss ways to revive the Middle East peace process”. This is posted here.

The Jerusalem Post said here that Medvedev “stopped short” of endorsing the 1967 borders…

The New York Times reported that “Mr. Medvedev, on his first trip to the area as president, was scheduled to visit Israel as well, but that part of his itinerary had to be postponed because of a strike by employees of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Foreign Ministry officials, striking for more pay and better conditions, said this month that they were unable to prepare for the planned visit” … In Jericho, Mr. Medvedev told reporters that Russia fully supported ‘the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to an independent, territorially contiguous and viable state with its capital in East Jerusalem’. He said Russia’s position “remains unchanged,” referring to the Soviet Union’s support for the Palestinian declaration of independence of 1988, which was issued by Yasir Arafat in Algiers”. This is posted here.

However, because he travelled in and out of the occupied Palestinian West Bank, the Allenby Bridge near Jericho was closed all day, by Israeli decision.

Daoud Kuttab wrote: “Even though President Medvedev is probably only going to spend a few minutes crossing the bridge (compared to hours that locals spend) and at most an hour or more at this remote Jordan Valley location, the orders were made to close the bridge an entire day…

Continue reading Russia's President Medvedev visits Jericho – supports Palestine State with East Jlem as capital

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.