Tensions in Jerusalem are flaring - and we need to act now before they ignite in ways that can't be controlled.
Almost every day, provocative actions like home demolitions and evictions by both the Government of Israel and settler groups in Jerusalem are making it harder to see how a two-state solution and long-term security for Israel as a Jewish, democratic homeland can be achieved.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been courageous and outspoken on Jerusalem - making statements opposing provocative, unilateral actions. We need to urge her to do even more. Who else but the United States can convince Israel to change course before it's too late?
Here's a taste of what's been going on:
- Home demolitions and evictions. Palestinian families are evicted from their homes and look on as Jewish Israelis are moved into the same building moments later, provoking violent clashes between Jewish Israeli settlers and Palestinians. 
- Israeli construction in East Jerusalem continues unabated, even after Israel's announcement to slow down settlement construction elsewhere, making it harder to envision the capital of a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem alongside Israel's capital in Jerusalem.
- More Palestinians were stripped of residency rights in East Jerusalem in 2009 than in any year between 1967 and 2007, according to Israeli Government figures. 4,577 Palestinians were deprived of their Jerusalem residency status last year - the highest annual figure ever -- as compared to a total of 8,558 between 1967 and the end of 2007. 
- Right-wing American politicians are making a flare up of the conflict more likely by turning Jerusalem into a political football. Governor Mike Huckabee visited East Jerusalem this summer for a pro-settler fundraiser held in a building recently seized from Arab families.  New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind went to East Jerusalem just the other week to lay cornerstones for new developments for Jewish residents in an historically Arab part of the city. 
While politicians like Huckabee and Hikind are actively trying to inflame tensions in Jerusalem, Secretary Clinton and the Obama administration will have to redouble their efforts to affect Israel's behavior in Jerusalem.
J Street believes that Jerusalem's ultimate status and borders should be negotiated and resolved as part of an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.
We believe such an agreement will ultimately recognize that Israel's capital is Jerusalem and that the capital of the future Palestinian state will be East Jerusalem, as has been discussed in previous negotiations. Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem (like Gilo) will be incorporated as part of Israel in a new border arrangement that includes equal land swaps.
However, until such a border is agreed upon, all building beyond the Green Line should cease in accordance with the Road Map and the calls of successive U.S. Administrations.
Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution that preserves Israel's Jewish and democratic character and creates a viable Palestinian state is a fundamental American interest, as well as in the interests of Israel and the Palestinians.
That's why we're urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to keep up her work in helping to shape a peaceful and secure future for Jerusalem.
Thanks so much for all you do,
December 7, 2009
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