If Jerusalem is not divided, then East Jerusalem cannot be the capital of a Palestinian state, a central Palestinian demand. Israeli Minister Yuval Steinitz reveals two-state stance to the ‘Telegraph.’
Likud minister and close confidante of Prime Minister Netanyahu, Yuval Steinitz said that Israel is prepared to make “considerable and difficult” territorial concessions as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph (and reported on in Haaretz). Steinitz stressed that the two-state solution was the only way to end the conflict. This is apparently news because he, Netanyahu and the Likud Party once opposed a two-state solution and within the party, there are plenty of members who are currently opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Steinitz, however, had some caveats to his statement, among them, that Palestinians must recognize Israel’s Jewish character, that a future Palestinian state must be demilitarized and that the right of return for 1948 refugees was out of the question. These are problematic in their own right as far as the double standard of preconditions on negotiations, but I won’t get into that now. The one caveat that stood out to me, that is maybe the most significant and that wasn’t elaborated on is what he said about Jerusalem.
According to the Telegraph:
As for Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as their capital, Mr. Steinitz said the status quo was the only option.
If the status quo is the only option, that means East Jerusalem will continue to be occupied and annexed by Israel, which means it cannot be the capital of a future Palestinian state, which means there will be no Palestinian state because Palestinians will not agree to a state without East Jerusalem as its capital, which means there won’t be a two-state solution. (Don’t let Israel’s promise to release 82 Palestinian prisoners fool you as a goodwill gesture. Israel has released prisoners before, and then re-arrested them soon thereafter.)
So to me, Steinitz exposed in this interview that Israel is not actually ready for a two-state solution, since his definition is unrealistic and unjust. With talks (about talking) set to resume on Tuesday – Steinitz’s words are a good barometer of Netanyahu’s position. And considering that Netanyahu won’t even agree to freeze settlement construction during peace talks, even the most optimistic of analysts should be well aware that there is nothing genuine about Israel’s position as it enters “negotiations.”