Jerusalem must heed Obama's call

by Judy Reynolds - August 22th, 2009

In a recent Forum article, Jeff Jacoby, a columnist for The Boston Globe, condemns President Obama's call for Israel to halt a Jewish construction project in East Jerusalem. In arguing Israel's claim to Jerusalem, he notes Obama's 2008 campaign statements to the effect that Jerusalem should remain “undivided.”

Jacoby fails to mention that immediately following his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Obama stated to CNN that what he meant was that Jerusalem should not be physically divided with a partition. “Well, obviously, its going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations,” he said in response to a question about whether Palestinians have a legitimate claim to the city.

Whether this campaign talk is considered a “flip-flop,” Obama's recent request on the new Jewish settlement is in line with his and other countries' calls for a halt to Jewish construction and settlement activity in East Jerusalem in light of Palestinian claims on East Jerusalem as a future capital.

Although Jacoby mentions the nearby Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, he does not discuss the recent evictions of 54 Palestinians from that neighborhood despite objections from the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations as to the evictions legitimacy. Nor does he discuss the ongoing demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. These actions do not promote peace.

I believe that if there is going to be a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Obama's call for a halt in construction/settlement activity in East Jerusalem must be heeded. Jacoby presented Israel's argument for control of all of Jerusalem; I hope he will listen with an open mind to the Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem. Only through negotiations can there be peace.