Jerusalem must be partitioned - Olmert
Monday, May 21, 2012 » 11:10am
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert says the notion of a united Jerusalem is unrealistic if Israel truly wants peace.
comments, made as Israel marked the 45th anniversary of capturing east
Jerusalem, were nearly unprecedented for a mainstream Israeli leader and
put Olmert at odds with his successor, Benjamin Netanyahu. Celebrating
Israel's control of Jerusalem, Netanyahu declared his government was
committed to keeping the entire city Israel's undivided capital. 'No
Israeli government since 1967 has done even a smidgen of what was
needed in order to unify the city in practical terms. That is a tragedy
that is going to lead us, for want of another choice, to making
inevitable political concessions,' Olmert told the Maariv newspaper. Israel
captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed the
area, home to sensitive Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites and a
large Arab population. The Palestinians hope to make east Jerusalem the
capital of an independent state, including the neighbouring West Bank
and Gaza Strip. Olmert said the notion of a united Holy City is
unrealistic. He said Arab neighbourhoods in east Jerusalem had not been
integrated into the city. 'We can't unite them and connect them
to the real fabric of life in Jerusalem and, except for grief, we
haven't gotten anything from them.' On Sunday, Israel marked the anniversary with marches and speeches throughout the city.
Palestinians' chief peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said the Israeli
celebrations were 'clear proof' that Israel is not interested in peace. 'Clearly, this behaviour reflects the mentality of a coloniser, rather than a supposed peace partner.'
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