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Negotiate Jerusalem first, not last

In the Oslo process, the issue of Jerusalem was purposefully delayed to be the last negotiated one; but in the next peace process it could be wise to begin negotiations by tackling Jerusalem's status first.
The golden Dome of the Rock (C) in Jerusalem's old city is seen in the distance beyond a section of the controversial Israeli barrier in the West Bank city of Abu Dis, October 29 , 2014. The Dome of the Rock is situated within the Al-Aqsa compound, known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount. On the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, there are still barriers separating communities around the world, from the barbed wire fence dividing the two Koreas, the fence around the Spa
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There is no doubt that among all permanent status issues to be resolved regarding the future between Israel and Palestine, the most difficult one by very far is the status of Jerusalem. Emotionally, it is the most loaded issue; politically, it is the most complicated one. From a religious perspective, reaching an agreement between the Jewish and Muslim worlds on the Jerusalem issue seems like "mission impossible."

But pragmatically, this should not be the case. Analyzing today's situation, one can say that Jerusalem is already de facto a divided city, between west and east. Most Arab neighborhoods, such as Jabel Mukaber, Issawiya, Shuafat and Atur, are now cut off by road blocks and the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif) is administered by the Jordanian Waqf in coordination with the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Waqf and Religious Affairs; only Muslims are allowed to pray there. It is also an open secret that PA officials are active both socially and economically in East Jerusalem.

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