Man, this is getting dreary. One reason, as I've explained, that I don't post more on the peace process is that there isn't actually much of a peace process on which to post. But, Jerusalem. Yes, it is true that "Jerusalem," as Jews understand the word, is not a settlement; it is the center of Jewish history, culture and religion. But what does "Jerusalem" mean as a practical matter? Does it mean neighborhoods far from the Temple Mount that have been Arab for hundreds of years? Does it mean neighborhoods far from the Temple Mount that no Jew visits? Yes, of course, all the Land of Israel is holy to Jews, and yes, of course, Jews lived in these places long before Arabs (and yes, it is true that Jews were ethnically cleansed from many of these places by Arabs in 1948) but the possession of land is not the only Jewish value, particularly land that provokes no overwhelming feeling of Jewish connection. At prayer, when we announce to God our deep love of His holy city, are we really talking about Abu Dis and Isawiya?
I don't believe Israel should give up control of its holiest sites -- would Muslims give up control of Mecca? -- but the neighborhoods of East Jerusalem aren't holy, at least in my understanding of the notion. A peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs -- which, along with the neutralization of Iranian eliminationist ideology and practice, is the only thing that will guarantee Israel's long-term existence as a Jewish state -- requires a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. Bibi Netanyahu knows this, of course, but he won't tell his coalition partners such a basic truth, which is why they a) remain in his cabinet, and b) continue to build apartment blocks that will serve to stymie the creation of a contiguous Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.