Some skeptics of a two-state solution argue that peace is impossible because they believe Israelis and Palestinians will never compromise over Jerusalem. Some insist that Jerusalem must remain forever “united” and oppose all plans to divide the city between the parties.

What We Say:

The city of Jerusalem is deeply significant for the Jewish people, and also for Muslims and Christians around the world. The reality is that neither Israelis nor Palestinians will ever relinquish their claim over the city and its holy sites. For either party to oppose all compromise over Jerusalem would be to condemn Israelis and Palestinians to unending conflict. But while any two-state peace agreement must resolve the status of Jerusalem, this one negotiating point need not be an obstacle to engaging in peace efforts.

To this day, the concept of a “united” Jerusalem is a myth, and the city remains de facto divided between Israelis and Palestinians. Many two-state proposals, drafted by Israeli and Palestinian experts, have shown how Israel and a Palestinian state could both retain sovereignty over their respective neighborhoods.

Past Israeli and Palestinian leaders have acknowledged the need for compromise over this issue and shown considerable flexibility. And polling has demonstrated increased support among Israelis and Palestinians for a two-state agreement that would resolve all issues, including sovereignty over Jerusalem. If Israeli and Palestinian leaders again show the will to negotiate peace, with the US leading the way, even the historic status of Jerusalem can be resolved in a two-state peace agreement.

For the Record:

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert:
“There won't be peace if part of Jerusalem does not become the capital of the Palestinian state.” Haaretz, 3/6/2009

Facts and Figures:

Under the 2000 Clinton Parameters, the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem would serve as the capital of a Palestinian state, and Israel would retain the Jewish neighborhoods as its capital and control the city’s Jewish holy sites. Council on Foreign Relations

Support for a two-state agreement including a solution for Jerusalem based on the Clinton Parameters has increased among Israelis and Palestinians. JTA, 7/1/2010

A 2012 poll of American Jewish voters found that 72 percent support a two-state peace agreement that allows Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem to become part of the new Palestinian state while Israel retains control of Jewish neighborhoods and the Western Wall in Jerusalem. GBA Strategies, 11/6/2012

Reports indicate that during peace negotiations in 2008, the Palestinian Authority was willing to compromise with Israel over sharing sovereignty of Jerusalem. Christian Science Monitor, 1/24/2011

Consider This:

In a video presentation, Middle East analyst Zvika Krieger explored the most practical plans for resolving Jerusalem between Israel and a Palestinian state. Atlantic, 11/14/2011

Stressing that “there is nothing in our world ‘above politics,’ Former Israeli minister Yossi Sarid wrote to Jewish-American writer Elie Wiesel that Jerusalem can only be maintained as “the world's Jewish spiritual capital” when it becomes the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state. Haaretz, 4/18/2010

Former Ambassador Martin Indyk said that “if it therefore cannot be resolved, and it will not be forgotten, Jerusalem somehow has to be managed so that the other issues that are more amenable to resolution can be dealt with.” The Daily Beast, 3/18/2010

The Haaretz editorial board argued that the world will not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital until it negotiates a two-state solution. Haaretz, 5/21/2012

Former Israeli Knesset member Yossi Beilin explained that despite calls for “united Jerusalem,” the city is already divided. Ynet, 10/15/2007

Reporter Robert Mackey chronicled the history of plans to resolve Jerusalem in a two-state peace agreement. The New York Times, 3/25/2010