Israelis and Palestinians are at a permanent standoff over the status of Jerusalem but American re-engagement in the peace process holds out some hope for progress, according to a foremost expert on the issue.
Daniel Seidemann, founder and director of Terrestrial Jerusalem and a specialist in East Jerusalem legal and public issues, spoke at the Columbus School of Law on Feb. 6, giving a talk titled “Recent Developments in Jerusalem: Is it the End of the Peace Process?”
Seidemann, an American-born Israeli citizen who resides in Jerusalem, started the non-profit organization in 2010 to identify and track developments in Jerusalem.
During his talk he was openly critical of the expansionist policies of the Likud Party and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which has supported what Seidemann called “an unprecedented surge” of new settlements in East Jerusalem, further aliening and isolating the area’s Palestinian residents.
Seidemann called the policy “incompatible” with forward movement in a peace process, which he said any realist must acknowledge means a divided holy city.
“The only solution is the two-state solution, and that two-state solution has to be inside the city of Jerusalem, and not outside it,” said Seidemann. “There will be no equilibrium without Jerusalem being politically divided. There is no alternative to that as a solution.”
Although President Obama is scheduled to visit Jerusalem during the spring of 2013, Seidemann charged his administration with a disengaged, kick-the-can-down-the-road approach to Middle East peace.
“But I’m telling you with total authority, there is no more can and no more road,” Seidemann said.
Does any hope exist? The Israeli government could decide to scale back the pace of settlement expansion in the Jerusalem area without declaring a formal moratorium on new building, something Seidemann called a possibility.
“Hold on to your seats. It’s going to be a fascinating year,” he concluded.
Seidemann’s address was co-sponsored by the Jewish Law Students Association and the International Law Students Association.