Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Ronald Reagan Administration: Report of Secretary Shultz's Meeting with Jerusalem Mayor Kollek

(October 1987)

For S/S

E.O. 12356: DECL OADR
Tags: OVIP (Shultz, George P.) IS
Subject: Secretary Shultz' Meeting with Jerusalem Mayor Kollek

1. Entire Text

2. Summary: Jerusalem Mayor Kollek discussed with Secretary Shultz some of the unique problems of Jerusalem and his efforts to deal with them. He said he accepted U.S. policy which stated that the future of Jerusalem was still to be determined but said that in the meantime he was responsible for the city and had to make strenuous efforts to assure that all the disparate elements in Jerusalem were able to live their lives without interference from others and without imposing their own ideas on the other communities. He stressed that reunified Jerusalem has not seen any large scale Arab-Jewish clashes, that his administration had improved services in the Arab section, rebuilt many of the historic sites that had been long neglected and made extensive efforts to accommodate the peculiar needs and desires of the Arab residents of the city. Mayor Kollek praised the Consulate General's practice of holding a single national day celebration attended by both Jews and Arabs, contrasting it with the practice of other countries which hold separate ethnic receptions. He made a general plea for more aid directed to the Occupied Territories to be spent among the Arabs in East Jerusalem, but made no specific request for the U.S. to fund any particular projects. He described his plan for devolving government power to local neighborhood councils and said that steady progress was being made in this area despite the opposition of some Israelis who portrayed this move as a redivision of the city. Mayor Kollek expressed the hope that the Secretary could return for a longer visit to Jerusalem and the Secretary said he looked forward to seeing the Mayor in the future. End Summary.

Unique City Needs Unique Answers

3. Secretary Shultz called on Jerusalem Mayor Kollek in his City Hall office on the afternoon of October 18. During the one-half hour meeting, Mayor Kollek discussed the unique nature of the city and detailed some of his efforts to deal with the problems brought about by the presence of so many different communities in the same city. He stressed throughout that his municipality had gone to great lengths to accommodate the wishes of the different communities and to keep any one community from imposing its will on the others.

4. The Mayor began the meeting by saying that he accepts U.S. policy regarding Jerusalem, adding that he of course had no choice but to accept our view that the city must remain unified but that its final status is still to be determined. He even noted that former Secretary of State Vance had said that a solution to the problem of Jerusalem could possibly be separated from negotiations over the future of the West Bank and Gaza. The Mayor noted that while he did accept this situation, for the time being the situation in Jerusalem was dependent on the Israeli government.

Keeping Variety While Reducing Friction

5. Mayor Kollek said that his top priority was an effort to eliminate points of friction. He pointed out that Jerusalem is home to Jews who have come from one hundred three cultures, to Christians owing allegiance to forty different denominations, and was characterized by traditional communities such as the Greeks and the Armenians who had adhered to their own language and religious traditions since the early centuries of the Christian era. One result of all this diversity is that of the one hundred sixty thousand children in Jerusalem schools, thirty thousand attend non-municipal, private schools. The secretary asked whether people went to private schools for a better education or for other reasons. The Mayor replied that there were many schools, particularly some Christian schools which had long traditions of excellence associated with them, but that many other students attended private schools for religious reasons such as those going to ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools, and that some attended Arab schools because of the shortage of classrooms in municipal schools. He said that due to the shortage of classrooms, only twenty-thousand Arabs studied in the city schools and many attended schools funded by the Jordanian/PLO Joint Committee.

Quiet Has Reigned, Despite Expectations

6. Mayor Kollek said that when the city was reunified in 1967, there were those who claimed there would be daily clashes between the Jewish and Arab communities. However, the reality was that there were absolutely no such clashes until November 1986. At that time a Jewish student was murdered in the Old City and violence ensued but even in that case, the clashes were not severe, there were no burnings of houses or of businesses and no one was killed save the Jewish student whose death caused the backlash. The Mayor said that there had been terrorist attacks over the years but that these were the work of individuals and except for the above mentioned case had not resulted in backlashes.

7. The Mayor said that Jerusalem is a quiet city and that he has worked to keep it that way. He regretted the fact that a baseless story in a Hebrew paper recently sparked some confrontations on the Temple Mount, but added that once the municipality had explained to the Moslem authorities that the GOI announcement of 1967 that there would be no change in the status quo of the Holy Places, was still valid. He said the Moslem leaders believed him and said they would calm their community down on the condition that no one be told that there had been a meeting with the Mayor. Kollek said he was willing to go along with their desire not to be seen as complying with a request from the municipality.

8. The Mayor noted that Palestinian nationalism was exhibited in greatly increased attendance at prayer services on the Temple Mount. Whereas a typical Friday prayer service at the al-Aqsa Mosque drew ten thousand in 1967, crowds of fifty thousand to sixty thousand go to the Mosque on a normal Friday at the present time. The Mayor also noted that over one hundred thousand Moslems resident in countries technically at war with Israel visit the Moslem Holy Places in Jerusalem each year. He added that over six hundred thousand Christian pilgrims visit Jerusalem each year and said that his municipality had significantly improved the physical infrastructure in and around the sites, many of which had been neglected for many years, going to great lengths to be accommodating.

9. The need to improve services to East Jerusalem in order to bring them up to the level of those existing in West Jerusalem was also a daunting task. Kollek said that only ten per cent of houses in East Jerusalem had running water in 1967 and although he had not succeeded in bringing services on the east side up to the level in the west, his municipality had made many great strides. He cited the Arab Health Center in East Jerusalem as a particular example of the lengths to which the municipality had gone to accommodate Arabs. The Center's entire staff is Arab and has male nurses for male patients and female nurses for female patients. The Center presently receives seven hundred patients per day and is expected to expand to one thousand per day as soon as new offices are opened. Eventually, a day hospital will open on the site which should increase the number of patients to fifteen hundred per day.

10. Other examples of the length gone to accommodate Arab sensitivities were the fact that Jordanian citizens were allowed to vote for the Municipal Council, Arab municipal schools were allowed to retain the Jordanian Curriculum (with the addition of Hebrew and Civics), and that the high school examination given to Arab students was the one accepted by Arab countries rather than that accepted by Israeli universities. The proof of the success of these policies was that the Arab population of Jerusalem doubled (from 65,000 to 130,000) since 1967. From 1948 to 1967 the population had stayed stagnant at 65,000.

11. Kollek said that the special status of Jerusalem necessitated some kind of constitution or other special arrangement for the city. Secretary Shultz said that he understood the Mayor's concerns and noted that he had heard the Mayor describe the city in 1967 as a mosaic, i.e., it is a picture that can look very beautiful, but that the individual elements within it do not merge into one another but remain fully distinct and independent.

Decentralization: The Borough Plan

12. The Mayor then described his attempts to implement a borough plan in Jerusalem over the objections of many in the federal government who characterized his efforts as an attempt to redivide the city. He said that he had started devolving municipal authority to local councils in nine neighborhoods, six Jewish and three Arab. In the next few weeks he said another Arab local council would be set up. The Secretary asked what kind of power had been given to these local groups. Kollek said that the groups were given town planners for three days per week to help them decide what they wanted to do in terms of physical planning, and that the groups exercised significant influence over schools and cultural institutions in their areas. He said the groups also can have authority over cleaning streets, maintaining gardens and parks and administering community centers. Sometimes they also participate in financing large scale projects. As one example, he said that one Arab Council needed a sewage system which would cost U.S. dollars 300,000. As the municipality had only U.S. dollars 120-150,000 the group was advised to raise the rest. The group obtained the money from Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Kollek said that while it was an exception for Arab countries to give financial assistance in East Jerusalem, all of the local councils which have been set up had the prior approval of the Jordanian government.

13. The Mayor expressed hope that more foreign countries including the United States, would spend some of their money earmarked for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem. He complained that most countries, including the U.S. excluded the 130,000 Arabs in East Jerusalem from their development plans. He said that he had discussed this matter with Consul General Draper but made no specific request for the U.S. to fund any particular project at this time.

Appreciation for Bridge-Building

14. The Mayor thanked the Secretary for the fact that the Consulate General in Jerusalem holds only one independent celebration to which both Jews and Arabs are invited. He contrasted the stand with that of the other consulates in Jerusalem which insist on having two separate parties. He said he was gratified that the United States had changed its policy several years ago and also expressed appreciation for the other efforts that Consul General Draper has made to bring Jews and Arabs together.

15.As a final note, the Mayor expressed his hope that the Secretary would return to Jerusalem for a longer visit, during which the Mayor would be able to show him more of the city. The Secretary also noted that Mayor Kollek would be in the United States soon and invited him to come and see him.


Sources: Department of State.