Netanyahu's pledge: One Jerusalem, for Israel, forever
On Thursday, Israel commemorated its 1967 capture of East Jerusalem – an area where Jewish settlements and Arab home demolitions could complicate Palestinian aspirations for statehood.
TEL AVIV – In case you missed it, today Israel commemorated Jerusalem Day, a holiday that marks Israel's capture of the eastern half of Jerusalem from the Jordanians in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the occasion to say he will never agree to divide control of Jerusalem.
"United Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,'' Netanyahu said. "Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours.''
That's not surprising to hear Netanyahu say, especially on Jerusalem Day. But virtually ruling out negotiations on the city could complicate the Obama administration's drive to restart peace talks with the Palestinians, who consider East Jerusalem the capital of their future state.
As the Monitor reported on Thursday, Israeli newspapers have said that, as part of President Obama's peace initiative expected to be unveiled in Cairo on June 4, the US will suggest that control over Jerusalem's holy sites be administered by the United Nations. That idea was floated in the 1947 UN partition plan but never implemented.
Another barrier to two-state solution: Arab home demolitions
Palestinians, meanwhile, allege that an uptick in demolition orders for homes in the predominantly Arab city of East Jerusalem is proof Israel is not interested in a compromise.
On Tuesday, the Monitor wrote about how human rights organizations are worried that the demolition orders and a $100 million development plan are motivated by a goal to cement Israeli sovereignty in the historic heart of Jerusalem – possibly precluding the establishment of Palestinian state with a capital in Islam's third most holiest city.
Settlement freeze: How hard to implement?
Meanwhile, Israel signaled that it's serious about reining in unauthorized settlement outposts – a stipulation of the 2003 road map for peace – by demolishing a tiny outpost called Maoz Esther.
But, in yet another reminder of how difficult it will be to clamp down on all settlement activity in the West Bank, settlers returned to the site by evening to begin rebuilding what Israeli security forces had destroyed in the morning.
Elsewhere, settlements continue to grow apace, with more than 300,000 Israeli citizens in the West Bank - not including East Jerusalem. This morning, the Monitor wrote about a development in the sprawling community of Ariel, where a whole apartment complex has gone up while the 2007 Annapolis deal stalled. Click here to see before and after photos and read the story.