Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
June 2, 2007 - 11:00pm

Washington, D.C., June 4 -- The American Task Force on Palestine, in conjunction with Americans for Peace Now and the Foundation for Middle East Peace, today hosted a congressional briefing featuring two experts on Jerusalem and the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict. The Capitol Hill briefing entitled Jerusalem on the 40th Anniversary of the 6-Day-War: Challenges to the Viability of a Two State Solution explored in detail the complex forces that define the ancient city of Jerusalem in a time of conflict.

Dan Rothem of the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation led off the briefing by using a PowerPoint presentation to portray an accurate picture of how the route of Israel's separation barrier had been used and modified by different Israeli governments and politicians to set Israel's future border with the Palestinians. In particular, Rothem focused on the Ariel (northern West Bank), Maale Adumim/Jerusalem and Gush Etzion (southern West Bank) settlement blocs and how the different routes might effect Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Palestinian state viability and the two-state solution. Danny Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer and legal counsel to Ir Amim, delivered a pragmatic critique of the forces at work in the city, noting both positive and negative developments regarding the city's potential future as a shared and open co-capital of Israel and a future Palestinian state. He stressed that while the current climate is difficult, small victories such as preventing Israeli settlement expansion east of Jerusalem in E-1, helped preserve the two-state option and demonstrate that concerted, selective action yields results. Where once we were "five minutes to midnight," Seidemann said, events like ceasing settlement expansion into the E-1 area and the growing realization by the Israeli public that Jerusalem will be divided politically with the Palestinians in the future, put "time back on the clock." He stressed though, that more needs to be done and vigilance exercised to deal with potential future flashpoints such as those being created in Jerusalem's Old City Muslim Quarter by radical Israeli settlement groups.

ATFP executive director Rafi Dajani who gave an opening remark at the briefing's outset said: "Today's briefing demonstrates clearly the impact Jerusalem has on the future of Israel/Palestine and even worldwide." He added, "a failure to resolve the issue to account for both Israeli and Palestinian religious and political narratives and attachments to the city will evolve the conflict from a national to a religious one with worldwide ramifications."






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