H.E. Carl Bildt
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Gustav Adolfs torg 1
SE-103 39 Stockholm
|December 2, 2009|
Dear Mr. Foreign Minister:
We are deeply concerned about reports that Sweden will propose that the European Union adopt the Palestinian position on the status of Jerusalem as an explicit aspect of its policy.
In a November 18, 2009 Presidential Statement, your government suggested that the EU pre-judge negotiations on Jerusalem by declaring: "If there is to be genuine peace, a way must be found to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states." We understand that the proposed new policy, which also calls for a halt to natural growth of Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, will be presented for adoption by the European Union on December 7.
This initiative is out of step with the recent serious concessions made by Israel to help create an environment for the resumption of direct negotiations and the ongoing efforts of Senator Mitchell to help the parties restart those negotiations. For years, EU stated policy has been that 'all issues surrounding the status of Jerusalem' should be negotiated. Now your government wants the European Union to pre-judge those negotiations, making the re-division of Jerusalem a condition for peace.
Peace will be the product of negotiations, not of external pressure and diktats from third parties. The abovementioned proposal is a misguided step toward an imposed solution, a dangerous policy that can only end in failure and disappointment. If the European Union adopts this position on Jerusalem, we believe it will no longer be able to play any role in the peace process.
We believe it is important to recall the historical differences between a united and a divided Jerusalem.
The only time Jerusalem was divided was between 1948-1967 when armistice lines drawn between the army of the newly declared State of Israel and invading Arab armies divided Jerusalem into two sectors, with Jordan occupying and annexing the eastern sector, including the Old City, and Israel retaining the western and southern parts of the city. Barbed wire divided the sides. In violation of the Armistice Agreement, Jordanians denied Jews access to and the right to worship at their holy sites, including the Western Wall. The 58 synagogues in the Jewish Quarter were systematically destroyed and vandalized and Jewish cemeteries were desecrated.
Jerusalem was reunited under Israeli sovereignty as a result of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Israel immediately passed the "Protection of Holy Places Law," which guarantees the sanctity of all holy sites and makes it a punishable offense to desecrate or deny freedom of access to them. Under Israeli rule, Christians and Muslims have always administered their own holy places and institutions and have had access to Israel's democratic court system in order to present any claim of violation of these rights.
Palestinian leaders insist that all of East Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, be the capital of an independent Palestinian state. Successive Israeli governments—on the left and on the right—have reaffirmed that Jerusalem will remain the undivided capital of the State of Israel. However, Israeli governments have also expressed support for seeking creative proposals for the future of Jerusalem in the context of a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians. The European Union can contribute by encouraging the Palestinians to accept the Israeli offer to begin such negotiations immediately and without pre-conditions, not by pre-judging their result.
Abraham H. Foxman
The Anti-Defamation League