A PALESTINIAN VIEW
A closed file an interview with Adnan Husseini
b i t t e r l e m o n s. o r g
October 29, 2007 Edition 39
bitterlemons: We’ve heard recently Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert talk
about the outlying neighborhoods of Jerusalem and that Israel might be
willing to “divide” Jerusalem. What do you make of this?
Husseini: First of all, we’ve been hearing such ideas for a while, but we
also see the objections from many others in Israel, so we can’t really trust
But there is something else very important to make clear. What is mentioned
in these statements is not sufficient for the Palestinian side. The
statements concern certain areas that are not part of the core of Jerusalem.
We know Jerusalem as the Old City and the surrounding areas. In 1948,
Jerusalem was 2.2 square kilometers, 1.9 of which were taken up by the Old
In 1967, the area of Jerusalem had expanded to 6.5 square kilometers, as a
result of the natural growth of the city in those 19 intervening years. Now,
after 40 years of occupation, it has reached 9 square kilometers, including
the far-flung areas that are now mentioned as those Israel is willing to
give back to the Palestinians.
Everything in Jerusalem is important. When we speak about Jerusalem on the
political level, the core is the Old City and the holy places. If Jerusalem
does not include these areas, we are not speaking about Jerusalem but just
land, like any other in the West Bank.
We do not accept these statements because they mean Israel wants to annex
East Jerusalem to the western side, and these statements are just a way of
playing with us. They say they want to divide the city, but this is not the
way. The city was divided in 1967 and there was a main border that was very
clear to everyone. There was east and west, and these should become two
capitals, one for the Israelis and one for the Palestinians.
bitterlemons: We hear a lot about the Taba talks and the Clinton plan and
the idea that there should be some kind of division based on Jewish and Arab
neighborhoods. Does this make sense?
Husseini: In the many recent discussions and meetings we’ve had, the
Israelis have wanted to impose their understanding for every part of the
city and in the
Palestinian territories in general. We are not committed to any of this. We
are committed to UN Security Council resolutions. It is very clear to
everyone that we are speaking about 22 percent of Palestine and of Jerusalem
as part of the occupied Palestinian territories. We cannot speak of any less
bitterlemons: What about practicalities? Let’s talk of the 1967 borders.
Clearly there has to be some kind of open city arrangement. It is hard to
imagine a hard border there.
Husseini: We are not talking about a divided Jerusalem in this way. Israel
likes this idea of high walls. We do not agree to this vision. We want a
city with two sovereignties, open to each other and with full recognition
between the two sides. There will certainly be technical issues that will
need practical resolution, but nothing to do with the fundamental issues of
The holy places are a closed file. This is not negotiable. The Aqsa Mosque
is not something that can be compromised on, nor is the Church of the Holy
Sepulcher. This is a closed file. The Old City is the heart of East
Jerusalem, and everything else is the natural extension of this city.