Outline Of The Proposed Charter

For The Old City Of Jerusalem

Under the Bermigo Plan, Jerusalem’s Old City would become an independent mini-city. Simply put, it would not belong to any country.

For the first 20 years of the plan, the Old City would be run exclusively by a U.S. / European custodianship according to an exact, strict charter. The charter would totally safeguard every side’s interests, and could not be changed for 20 years. The charter could be changed from the 21st year onwards, but only if 80% of the Old City’s Palestinian Muslim residents, plus 80% of the Old City’s Jewish residents, then approved the change in a municipal referendum.

If that sounds like an impossibly high bar, that's exactly the idea..

One of the charter’s terms would require every Old City residence to abide by a max number of occupants per floor-area (see further notes below). Thus, Palestinians would no longer outnumber Jews in the Old City by 76%/12%; that ratio would already drop to about 55%/30%. ‘Surplus’ residents would get free title to high-quality housing near the Old City; none would lose title to their Old City homes.

Another of the charter4's terms would permit Jews to purchase Muslim homes to reach full equivalence. That would further change the Old City demographics to 45% Palestinian Muslims, 45% Jews, and 10% Christians.

This change would obviously occur within the first 5 years of the plan; there is major demand by Jews to purchase homes within the Old City. The charter would also mandate that once equivalence was attained, neither the Muslim residents, nor the Jewish residents, would be permitted to exceed that equivalence. (In practice, licenses to reside in the Old City – let alone, purchase homesteads there – would simply not be given unless/until a 'vacancy' opened up that wouldn't upset the equivalence).

These dual clauses in the charter – limiting the number of residents per abode, together with permission to purchase up until (and no further than) equivalence – would lock in the sought demographics indefinitely.

In the 21st year, 1/3, of Old City’s council seats would get Palestinian representation, voted in by Old City Palestinian residents. 1/3, would get Israeli representation, voted in by Old City Jewish-Israeli residents. The U.S./European custodianship would keep the final third with veto power. This setup would remain in place for the next 30 years. Apart from this new 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 adjustment, the charter would not be changed.

After the 50 years, this arrangement, and this same charter, would continue indefinitely (unless/until 80% of Palestinian residents, plus 80% of Israeli residents, came to a new agreement.

No new residential or commercial construction would be permitted during the 50-year term; only upkeep of existing structures. No extra/new residents (see related clauses below) would be accepted during the period.

In no Old City residence could the number of occupants exceed a reasonable standard. The standard would be set according to floor area and surrounding living conditions. All ‘surplus’ occupants would get rights to extra housing close to the Old City. The extent of the rightswould be based onwhether theoccupantswere OldCity owners – long-time or recent. Or, Old City renters – long-time or recent, etc.

The ‘surplus’ housing units would be of high quality, and their construction completed in the first 4 years (of the 50-year term). For Old City Palestinian titleholders, the surplus housing units would be constructed in Palestine – for Old City Israeli titleholders, in Israel.

From the 6th year (of the 50-year term) onwards, no Old City home could house more residents than its floor-area legally permitted.

All persons granted free – or partially free – title to ‘surplus’ housing units would not lose title to their Old City homes. They could move back in at any point, and even rent out their Old City homes, provided the ‘floor-area per occupant’ was always adhered to. Any person trying to cheat the system could permanently lose rights of residence in the Old City. In the ‘surplus’ housing units, the rules governing ‘floor-area per occupant’ would be far less strict. For Old City Palestinian titleholders, the rules of Palestine would apply – for Old City Israeli titleholders, the rules of Israel.

To ensure the Old City remained financially and politically independent, the U.S./European trusteeship would levy municipal taxes on all Old City business & property owners – including religious institutions, the major landowners. The trusteeship would also levy a small tourist tax on all visitors, except Palestinians and Israelis.

Old City residents would pay income and municipal tax to the trusteeship, alone – not to Israel or to Palestine. The rate would be set in a way that did not allow the Old City to become a tax haven.

Professional, non-partisan groups could carry out archeological excavations, but all artifacts found would be housed in a museum built inside the Old City. The museum would exhibit all religions’ artifacts.

Citizens of both Palestine and Israel would be permitted to visit the Old City at all times. They would also be exempt from the small tourist entrance fee levied on foreign tourists.

Religious sites would continue to accept visitors of other faiths in keeping with the site’s traditions. No site would be limited to visitors of one faith, unless there is uniform agreement among world experts that the religion demands it.

Note that the Bermigo Plan views the Old City of Jerusalem as a living museum. It has no plans to 'develop' it. The municipality would keep this special 218 acre-compound clean and well run, but not 'modernize' it.

Following the first 20-year period

Following the 20-year term, the Old City would no longer be governed by the U.S./European custodianship alone. Now,one third of Old City municipal seats would be set aside for the Muslim Palestinians residing within the Old City, and one third for the Jewish* Israelis residing there. The U.S./European custodianship would retain the final third.

* There are over a million Muslim-Israelis, but no Jewish-Palestinians. Thus, the one-third Israeli allotment would specify Jewish-Israelis. Else, many anti-Israel Muslim Israeli citizens might well try to sabotage Israeli (and/or Jewish) representation by using the allotment for themselves.

At this point (from the 21st year of the plan onwards), all Old City residents would give up their right to vote in Israel or Palestine, but in return, be permitted exclusive rights to vote in the Old City's municipal elections – and exclusive rights to stand for Old City municipal seats. One reason for this arrangement is to ensure that Old City residents are not rewarded or punished by politics in Israel or Palestine.

[A separate article on this website will discuss how the municipal council will be nurtured to ensure its decisions are 'technical' alone – just as judges or medical practitioners conduct themselves in a democracy, and do not allow their personal religious or ideological affiliations to affect their professional duty].

To ensure there is no interference from any country in the world, Jerusalem's Old City residents would similarly forfeit their right to vote locally if they voted in any other country’s elections.

Every address in the Old City would be registered, together with the current legal occupants of that address. Only occupants who had also appeared in the Old City registry the previous year could vote in the Old City municipal elections. The right to stand for election would require residency of at least 4 years.

Occupants of the 'surplus' housing could not vote – or stand for election – in the Old City elections. Instead, they would vote in Israel's or Palestine's elections, both on the municipal and national level.

All Old City residents and ‘ex-residents’ would be entitled to hold additional passports to their ‘Old City of Jerusalem' passports.

The Old City would continue as an independent mini-city – under the same charter – for those remaining 30 years. At the end of the 50-year term, residents of the Old City could come to a different arrangement – and also decide to end the involvement of the West. But as already specified, such a change would require the approval of 80% of the Old City’s Muslim residents, plus, the approval of 80% of the Old City’s Jewish residents, in a local referendum.

Should the Muslim and Jewish residents of the Old City not want to (or be unable to) agree on a new arrangement, the default option – where the Western custodianship retains a third, the Muslim residents a third, and Jewish residents a third – would remain the status quo. This arrangement could continue as long as needed – indeed, indefinitely.

Implementing the Bermigo Plan component for the Old City

12 months into the 50-year term, the last Israeli forces would exit the West Bank. During the tenth month, the Western team in charge of Jerusalem’s Old City would post a small, specially trained, American-European police force there. All Israeli police and army would withdraw from the Old City three months later. From that point on, no firearms would be permitted within the Old City’s walls, apart from those borne by the American-European unit.