PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A local expert on Middle Eastern politics believes a formal U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel wipes away any opportunity that there will be a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians.
University of Pennsylvania political science professor Ian Lustick says there does not appear to be an opportunity any longer to negotiate a peace deal based on an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.
“It won’t even be possible to pretend that that’s a possibility once this is done,” Lustick said.
Israel views Jerusalem as its undivided capital. The Palestinians consider majority-Arab East Jerusalem to be the future seat of an independent Palestine.
“The struggle that is really in front of us is a struggle for equality in that area,” said Lustick.
If all of Jerusalem is considered the capital of Israel, Lustick ponders what becomes of the Palestinians who live there, since they constitute about 40 percent of the population.
“Then, the question of Apartheid is raised,” he said. “Are tens of thousands of people living in the capital of the country to be denied citizenship in the country?”
He says Israel may find itself pressured to allow more Arabs to become Israeli citizens, since 200,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem.
“They are doing that,” he said, “but the Israeli bureaucracy creates enormous obstacles to Arabs becoming citizens, even if they live in Jerusalem.”
Lustick points out the long-standing international conventional wisdom has been that Jerusalem’s status should be decided in a negotiated peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
He says President Donald Trump’s “move on Jerusalem makes the problem so stark, and opens up the possibility of real violence in the short-term.”