The main barrier to finding a definitive solution to the [Israeli-Arab] conflict [is] the question of Jerusalem. For Israel, Jerusalem should be under Israeli sovereignty. For the Palestinians, it should be the future capital of the Palestinian state.For the Palestinians, it should be the future capital of the Palestinian state.These two antagonistic visions regarding the future of Jerusalem obviously do not allow for an early solution to the conflict.
However, in the last 70 years there has never been so much good will on the part of the key parties: the Arabs, Israel and the United States. President Bill Clinton made it a personal goal to find an amicable solution to the conflict.
The internationalization of the city of Jerusalem is the only way to establish a just and durable peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
This idea has been supported by the Vatican and recently the mayor of Jerusalem himself, who has expressed his wish for a divine sovereignty to reign over the city.
The religious dimension of Jerusalem, a center of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, brings complications to the possibility of finding a political solution to the crisis.
Given these complexities, we suggest that the problems of Jerusalem and the wider Arab-Israeli conflict can best be addressed if the headquarters of the United Nations is transferred from New York City to Jerusalem so that Jerusalem becomes a true city of Nations.
The following would be achieved by this move:
Differences between Israelis and Palestinians would be overridden by the UN presence as the holy city would belong to the international community and in no exclusive way to one or another country or culture;
The fragile states of the region, such as Israel, Palestine and the Gulf countries, would feel reinforced and protected against possible threats from aggressive neighboring countries, such as Iraq and Iran;
The UN would gain in symbolic power and would be ideally positioned to take a true measure of the conflicts that are troubling today’s world. Increasingly, conflicts in the world are no longer purely political. Most are loaded with powerful spiritual factors (e.g. Catholic-Protestant rivalry in Northern Ireland, Muslim- Hindu rivalry in Kashmir, Christian-Muslim rivalry in Chechnya and Kosovo). If the UN wants to acquire the means to bring true solutions to all these conflicts, it must take these spiritual factors into serious consideration during its policy formation and decision-making.
Headquartered in Jerusalem, the UN would acquire the necessary legitimacy and authority to renew its image. It could again become the indispensable international organization without which world conflicts could not be resolved.
Given the importance of every square foot in Jerusalem, the location and security of the UN headquarters would have to be studied, as would the accommodation and security of its 10,000 employees.
And given the urgency of the situation this proposal would have to be strongly and swiftly supported by all persons and organizations who want a just and rapid solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, in particular Israel, Palestine, all Arab and Muslim countries, the Vatican, the European Union and the United Nations.
Making Jerusalem home to the UN headquarters means turning the holy city into an international political and spiritual center from which peace will shine across the entire world.
By Rachid Nekkaz
Rachid Nekkaz is with Millenarium, a non-profit, non-governmental organization established to promote peace in the world.