The latest flap over Israeli housing construction in East Jerusalem has caused me to reflect upon the very deep and complicated feelings I have about the city.
I first passed through Jerusalem in December 1979 in an attempt to sneak into Tehran shortly after the American embassy hostages were taken. I returned two years later following the favorable verdict in the Holocaust Denial case and shared morning tea with Prime Minister Begin. In 1992, I testified in a trial there about the publication of the suppressed Dead Sea Scrolls and refused to identify my secret client. My last visit was in 2000 when my wife and I were married at Christ Church in the Old City on Valentine's Day.
The political issue is not who has the greatest property rights in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Nor, is it whether the Palestinian people are more genetically related to the ancient Israelis who occupied Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, than are the Ashkenazi Jews who now control the Israeli government and who exercise great influence over U.S. policy.
The critical question is: "what can be done to peacefully resolve the dispute in a way that protects the political rights and ensures the operational and economic security of the Israeli and Palestinian people and which removes the United States as a target for terrorists?"
Rather than answering with a complicated policy paper, let me share a simple vision I have experienced over the years.
First, accept that the nation of Israel is politically, economically, and militarily capable of defending its own interests on the world stage and that it has the right to be free of internal terrorists attacks.
Second, imagine that the United Nations imposes a 50-year protectorate over the land of Palestine, including Gaza, as it existed prior to the 1967 war and declared the area to be a duty-free economic zone, with security and freedom of access guaranteed by the UN.