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Palestinians agree that Israel rules all of Jerusalem, but the World Treats the City as Divided

The Palestinian Arabs and Israelis last managed to negotiate an agreement in September 1995. That agreement, Oslo II, was intended to be an interim agreement after which a permanent resolution was to be reached in five years. However, five years later in September 2000, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat walked away from the Israeli peace proposal and launched multi-year riots which claimed thousands of lives.

The terms of Oslo II still live on, decades later.


Rabin and Arafat sign maps prior to the Oslo II signing ceremony at the White House, as US president Bill Clinton, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Hussein look on, September 28, 1995 (photo credit: GPO)

Goals of Oslo II

Oslo II was meant to set in place an interim Palestinian Authority and governmental structures which would become the basis of a Palestinian political structure. Oslo II had NO calls for an independent Palestinian state, but stated the goal of the negotiations was to lead to a permanent settlement based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

  • Security Council Resolution 338 was declared after Egypt attacked Israel in the Yom Kippur War. The goal was to stop hostilities and commence peace negotiations.  The thrust of SC 338 was to implement SC 242 to establish “a just and durable peace
  • Security Council 242 was drafted after the Six Day War in 1967. In that war, Israel preemptively attacked Egypt and Syria that were readying an attack on Israel, and Israel defended itself from an attack from Jordan.

Without delving into the nuances of SC 242 here, the thrust of the resolution was to have Israeli armed forces pull back from some territories which it won in the 1967 War and that all states respect “the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area… free from threats or acts of force.” It also proposed “a just settlement of the refugee problem.

Oslo II built on these UN Security Council goals with an interim roadmap. It began with Israel’s handing over certain territories to the Palestinian Authority (Gaza and Jericho) as well as other major Palestinian cities.

Status of Jerusalem in Oslo II

Jerusalem is mentioned eight times in the Oslo II Accords. In every instance, the entire city is referenced, not just the eastern half that Israel acquired from the Jordanians and Palestinian Arabs in 1967.

The first six times “Jerusalem” appeared in the Oslo II agreement relate to future Palestinian elections in which Palestinian Arabs located in Jerusalem would be able to participate. The remaining two times specifically state that Jerusalem is a point for final status negotiations:

  • ARTICLE XVII Jurisdiction
    1. In accordance with the DOP, the jurisdiction of the Council will cover West Bank and Gaza Strip territory as a single territorial unit, except for:
    2. issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations: Jerusalem, settlements, specified military locations, Palestinian refugees, borders, foreign relations and Israelis;
  • ARTICLE XXXI Final Clauses
    5. Permanent status negotiations will commence as soon as possible, but not later than May 4, 1996, between the Parties. It is understood that these negotiations shall cover remaining issues, including: Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements, borders, relations and cooperation with other neighbors, and other issues of common interest.

According to the agreements executed by the Palestinians and Israelis:

  • Jerusalem is not part of the West Bank, as it is broken out separately
  • Jerusalem is not a “settlement”, as the agreement stated later that “settlements” are entities in the West Bank and Gaza – “For the purpose of this Agreement, “the Settlements” means, in the West Bank the settlements in Area C; and in the Gaza Strip – the Gush Katif and Erez settlement areas, as well as the other settlements in the Gaza Strip, as shown on attached map No. 2
  • Israel controls Jerusalem – “Israel shall continue to exercise powers and responsibilities not so transferred”

There is therefore no basis for any of the United Nations, the EU or the Unites States to claim that Jerusalem is a settlement and that Jews should have any restrictions from living anywhere in the city.  Should there be any modifications to the rule of the city, it will be made by mutual consent in permanent status negotiations.

Yet, the world ignores the Oslo II foundation document of a peace agreement.

United Nations Ignores Oslo II on Jerusalem

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon made an address on the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” in 2013:

On Jerusalem’s Jewish “settlements”:All settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem must cease.  Measures that prejudge final status issues are not to be recognized.
Announcements of thousands of new housing units cannot be reconciled with the goal of a two-state solution and risk the collapse of negotiations”

These statements ignore Oslo II in many respects: it broke apart “East Jerusalem” as a distinct entity; it claimed that Jews living in “East Jerusalem” were in “settlements”; it called for a two-state solution (while not in Oslo II, both the Israelis and Palestinians later agreed to such plan); it suggested that Jews living in “East Jerusalem” hurt a two-state solution.

On Palestinian homes in “East Jerusalem”: “Of particular concern are developments in East Jerusalem, where this year alone, some 100 [Arab] structures have been demolished, displacing 300 people.  Hundreds more Palestinians are at risk because their homes were built without Israeli-issued building permits”

The UN leader voiced concern with more Jews moving into eastern Jerusalem and not enough Arabs being accommodated there.

On the Permanent Status Negotiations of Jerusalem: “Jerusalem is to emerge from negotiations as the capital of two States, with arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all”

Ban Ki-Moon voiced a conclusion not made in Oslo II and “prejudged” an outcome that Jerusalem must be divided, even though Israel already divided the UN’s “Holy Basin” when it gave Bethlehem to the Palestinian Authority 20 years earlier.  Amazing commentary from someone who concerned with “prejudging final status issues.”

European Union Ignores Oslo II on Jerusalem

The EU has taken positions adopted by the Palestinian Authority which are outside of the agreements reached by Israel and the PA in Oslo II:

On Jerusalem’s Jewish “settlements”: “EU considers that settlement building anywhere in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law, constitutes an obstacle to peace and threatens to make a two-state solution impossible.”

On Palestinians in “East Jerusalem”: “The EU supports [Arab] institution building work in East Jerusalem, notably in the areas of health, education and the judiciary.” 

On the Permanent Status Negotiations of Jerusalem: “the EU has repeatedly confirmed its deep concern about accelerated settlement expansion in the West Bank including East Jerusalem. This expansion prejudges the outcome of final status negotiations and threatens the viability of an agreed two-state solution”
“The EU considers that the peace negotiations should include the resolution of all issues surrounding the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states. The EU will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.”

Like the United Nations, the EU ignored the mutual recognition of both Palestinians Arabs and Israel that only Israel administers all of Jerusalem, and any modification to such arrangement must be made by mutual agreement. Oslo II made no suggestion that the holy city be divided.

The United States Ignores Oslo II on Jerusalem

On Jerusalem’s Jewish “settlements”: Jen Psaki, Spokesperson for the US Department of State said on October 27, 2014: “we continue to make our position absolutely clear that we view settlement activity as illegitimate and unequivocally oppose unilateral steps that prejudge the future of Jerusalem. Israel’s leaders have said they would support a pathway to a two-state solution, but moving forward with this type of action would be incompatible with the pursuit of peace”

On the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem: While the US does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel or any country (and therefor does not maintain on embassy in Jerusalem), it has nevertheless decided to establish an office for Palestinians in Jerusalem.  The United States Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (USSC) sounds like it services both Israel and the PA, but its mission is to serve and assist the PA in meeting its security needs. “The USSC directs all facets of U.S. security sector assistance to the Palestinian Authority and synchronizes international supporting efforts…The USSC assists the Palestinian Authority to transform and professionalize its security sector.



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