[The following article is extracted from the November-December 2007 issue of The Other Israel.]

A Compromise in Jerusalem for the Sake of Jerusalem

An Open Letter to the Prime Minister

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee." (Psalms, 122, 6-8)

Dear Sir:

We, the undersigned, students and young people from Jerusalem and its environs, call upon you to sign at the Annapolis Conference a peace agreement with your Palestinian counterpart, including a just and lasting solution to the substantial issues on the agenda — specifically, a willingness to make compromises in Jerusalem.

We, who were born into the conflict, experienced the first Intifada as children and he second one as soldiers. We know that the price of peace is heavy but that of war is heavier.

We live in beautiful and torn Jerusalem. We study, work and spend out free time in the city that is perhaps the most complicated problem in the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. We love the city of Jerusalem, which is important to us, and which is where we intend to live our adult life and raise our children.

But just as this city is important to us, so do we recognize its enormous importance for the Palestinians, who just like us regard it as their natural capital. Without a just and multicultural solution that would give expression to both peoples' national aspirations in Jerusalem and enable true religious and cultural freedom, Jerusalem will sink down into socio-economic tensions, ethnic divisions and mutual hatred, and become a city of walls and fences.

To us, who live in this city, it is clear that — however painful it might be — a compromise in Jerusalem is vital for the future of Jerusalem itself, and indispensable to any hope of reaching an agreement with our neighbors.

The peace conference at Annapolis has created a unique window of opportunity, a ray of hope for the peoples of the region.

The strategic situation in the Middle East, the Palestinian partner, the international backing — all of these will enable you, should you take a brave decision, to come back home with an agreement — and be remembered in history as a leader who brought about a turning point in the history of his people. Let your tenure not be remembered as one more milestone on the route downwards to despair and social disintegration!

A new agreement, even it would not include maps and detailed annexes, would nevertheless revive the diplomatic process, push the entire region towards the route of dialogue and encourage the moderate forces in the Palestinian Authority.

On the other hand, in the disastrous case that the conference ends without an agreement and that you come back with having achieved no more than a meaningless murmuring of clichés and some token gestures, than the window of opportunity will close, and the two peoples will soon find themselves in the midst of escalation towards yet another round of bloodshed. A failure of the conference will serve our enemies and directly help those who wish to drag the entire region into all-out war.

When we were soldiers during the latest intifada, and proudly fulfilled the missions entrusted to us, we were told by the political leadership of which you were part that there was no Palestinian partner, and that Arafat constituted the barrier preventing Israel from achieving peace with her neighbors. Three years after the passing away of Arafat, the Palestinian Authority is led by a pragmatic and brave man, who expressed his wish to reach a real solution to the conflict and to reach a compromise on substantive issues. We, too, would like to have a real leader — a leader seeking an end to the conflict, even at the price of painful concessions.

Mr. Prime Minister, the Moment of Truth approaches. If you truly wish for peace, and not for a new cycle of bloodshed, you must come back from Annapolis with an agreement. Go in peace; don't come back empty-handed!

Signed by several hundreds, names and background at: (Site in Hebrew)

● The students who initiated the above letter intend to start on Nov. 22 a three-day walk through Jerusalem — setting off from the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus, going through such Jerusalem landmarks as the Town Hall, the Wailing Wall and the Knesset, holding torches in evening hours, staying the night in a tent camp, and culminating with a rally outside the PM's Residence on the evening of Nov. 24 — a few hours before Olmert is due to set out for Annapolis.

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