Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies

Jerusalem: Microcosm of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

Professor Mick Dumper (University of Exeter)

Wednesday 19 November 2014

 
Professor Mick Dumper presents the seminar

Professor Dumper talked about his first-hand experiences and views about events in Jerusalem as he guided the well-attended lecture through the geography, history and potential future of the city.

 

The Conflict, Security and International Order Cluster at POLIS hosted Professor Mick Dumper from the University of Exeter for his talk entitled 'Jerusalem: Microcosm of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.' Professor Dumper presented many of the ideas that are contained in his new book Jerusalem Unbound: Geography, History and the Future of the Holy City and the significance the city holds in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Jerusalem is a city of immense historical significance and still remains at the centre of world events today. Professor Dumper talked about his first-hand experiences and views about events in Jerusalem as he guided the well-attended lecture through the geography, history and potential future of the city.

Professor Dumper also discussed how Jerusalem's formal political borders, which have been numerous over the decades, fail to adequately reveal dynamics of power in the city or the underlying factors that make reaching an agreement between Israel and Palestine so difficult. Instead, their arbitrary nature tends to wash over core elements of dispute while allowing for further disintegration of the foundations for future dialogue. In particular, Jerusalem's large number of holy sites and restricted religious compounds create enclaves that undermine Israel's state authority over the city. Indeed a pattern has emerged in which increased security measures lead to citizen distress and reprisal aggression. This necessitates further security measures that lead to eventual civilian abandonment and military control over sensitive religious zones, staging the grounds for future conflict. This lack of political control and spatial organisation leave those in occupied East Jerusalem in a sort of twilight zone where citizenship, property rights, and the enforcement of the rule of law are ambiguously applied. As a point of emphasis, Professor Dumper repeatedly mentioned the extent to which the situation has deteriorated and the high prospect for future conflict to erupt given the current state of affairs.

Exploring the intersecting and multileveled nature of Jerusalem, Professor Dumper was able to create a picture of the complexity of the city itself and its central role within the broader framework of potential peace agreements. Adding to this, Jerusalem is host to numerous external factors which make the city important in a much broader sense. These external factors include the influence of the US, the EU and other members of the international community. Part of the significance of the external factors highlighted is that foreign embassies to Israel are located in Tel Aviv and not Jerusalem, demonstrating either a reluctance or denial on the part of the international community to accept that Jerusalem is indeed the capital of the state of Israel. The discussion was followed by a very informative Q&A session which served to clarify and build upon points raised.