Thursday, November 22, 2007

On Dividing Jerusalem...

Like two parents in a divorce who wonder if a property division will ever be possible, there are some in Israel that are debating the possibility of dividing Jerusalem, as this article on TruthOut shows:

Jerusalem - From opposite sides of the wall that once divided Jerusalem, Israeli Shlomo Yirmiyahu and Palestinian Yakoob Arrajabi watched in 1967 as the Jewish state seized the Arab area east of the city in a blaze of gunfire.

Now, as their leaders prepare for talks about peace, the two devoutly religious men are trying to imagine the future of their home town, which stands at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is treasured as holy by both.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wants East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state but splitting the city is a highly divisive issue for Israelis. As a Palestinian who yearns for independence, Arrajabi has much to gain from a compromise.

"All Palestine is sacred to us and Jerusalem is the most precious," said the bearded 48-year-old. "But the desire of man is one thing and reality is another."

Arrajabi lives just off Jerusalem's Route 1 artery which runs north from the Old City along the Green Line that once separated Israel from the Jordanian-controlled West Bank and now informally divides Jerusalem's Arab and Jewish neighborhoods.

A few blocks south, 69-year-old Yirmiyahu - a portly man - has for decades lived on the other side of that line, comfortable in his belief that Israel - and all Jerusalem - belong to the Jews.

On Fridays at sunset, Yirmiyahu joins hundreds of fellow Jews, many of them Orthodox in black hats, walking down Route 1, through the cobbled streets of the Old City's Muslim quarter, to pray at the Western Wall - one of Judaism's most sacred sites.

"The bible says this is the Promised Land for Jews. It's like we say 'next year in Jerusalem'," Yirmiyahu said, quoting the traditional saying in Jewish ritual which expresses the diaspora dream of return to the holy land.

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