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Jerusalem - Former Israeli PM: Jerusalem Must Be Partitioned

Published on: May 20, 2012 09:44 AM
By: AP
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a special cabinet meeting marking  'Jerusalem Day' in the Ammunition Hill  memorial in Jerusalem, Sunday, May 20, 2012. 'Jeruslem Day' marks the anniversary of Israel's capture of the eastern part of the city in the 1967 Mideast war.(AP Photo/Abir Sultan, Pool)Jerusalem - Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday urged Israeli leaders to relinquish the idea of a unified Jerusalem if they truly want peace, contending in a pair of interviews that years of government neglect have kept the Jewish and Arab sectors irreparably divided.

The 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 daily.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and immediately annexed the area, home to sensitive Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites as well as a large Arab population. The Palestinians hope to make east Jerusalem the capital of an independent state including the neighboring West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Olmert said the notion of a united Holy City is unrealistic. He pointed to a number of Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, saying they have not been integrated into the rest of 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,” he said.

Olmert went through a dramatic political transformation late in his career.

As mayor from 1993 to 2003, he was an outspoken hard-liner opposed to concessions to the Palestinians. Then, while prime minister from 2006 to 2009, he pursued a peace agreement envisioning broad territorial concessions to the Palestinians before a corruption case forced him to step down.

In those talks, Olmert offered to turn over parts of east Jerusalem to the Palestinians, and have Jerusalem’s Old City, home to the most sensitive religious sites, be administered by an international consortium including Israelis, Palestinians, Americans, Jordanians and Saudis.

Olmert claimed his talks with the Palestinians came tantalizingly close to an agreement. The Palestinians have said Olmert did not go far enough.

Since taking power three years ago, Netanyahu has repudiated Olmert’s willingness to partition the city. With a newly expanded coalition, Netanyahu has cemented a formidable majority for his hardline policies.

“We have a great obligation to the unity and development of Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said at the start of his weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday, as he marked what Israel calls “Jerusalem Day.”

The Palestinians have refused to conduct peace talks with Netanyahu unless he halts settlement construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. About 200,000 Israelis live in east Jerusalem, approaching the Arab population of about 280,000. Netanyahu says talks should resume without any preconditions.

On Sunday, Israel marked the anniversary with a series of marches and speeches throughout the city. The Palestinians’ chief peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said the Israeli celebrations were “clear proof” that Israel is not interested in peace. “Clearly, this behavior reflects the mentality of a colonizer, rather than a supposed peace partner.”

The status of Jerusalem is among the most explosive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, defying resolution throughout two decades of on-again, off-again peace talks. Today, the Arab and Jewish sections of the city are worlds apart.

Job discrimination against Arab Jerusalemites is common and investments in infrastructure and education in east Jerusalem are far below the levels plowed into the western sector. The discrimination has stifled economic development, fueled chronic joblessness and stoked poverty.

“We often use slogans in regard to Jerusalem and refrain from looking at the reality of Jerusalem. The result is that the discrepancy is something that many people have trouble adjusting to and accepting,” Olmert told Israel TV.

A report on east Jerusalem by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel backed up Olmert’s arguments.

Israeli government policies have fueled a 78 percent poverty rate among Palestinians in east Jerusalem, the group said, citing statistics from Israel’s National Insurance Institute. In 2006, the poverty rate was 64 percent.

Government spokesman Mark Regev said Israel is committed to narrowing gaps in the city.

Also Sunday, Israel’s Shin Bet security service said it had arrested nine Palestinians who tried to kidnap Israelis in the West Bank. The agency said in a statement that the ring made three unsuccessful kidnapping attempts in March, hoping to ransom the Israelis for Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

Last year, Israel released more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a captive Israeli soldier.

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Read Comments (14)  —  Post Yours »


 May 20, 2012 at 10:02 AM Phineas Says:

He has a right to his opinion but it's a bad opinion that he never would have voiced had he still been running for office..


 May 20, 2012 at 10:15 AM enlightened-yid Says:

But who will feed all the unemployed Haredim? I doubt Palestinian government will be that kind to them.


 May 20, 2012 at 11:50 AM Anonymous Says:

Finally, the most corrupt politician in Israel's history opens his mouth.

He is just trying to distract the world from his various trials.


 May 20, 2012 at 11:46 AM AlbertEinstein Says:

Seems like Ehud Olmert is the Jimmy Carter of Israel.


 May 20, 2012 at 10:38 AM Anonymous Says:

Who paid Olmert to say this. He was paid under the table money for everything else he said. He is a crook that is inches away of going to jail. Oh by the way. Who made the Holy Land housing deal where tens of millions passed hands?


 May 20, 2012 at 11:04 AM shvitzer11559 Says:

Olmert should concentrate on staying out of jail and returning ill begotten money he received.


 May 20, 2012 at 12:22 PM qazxc Says:

Reply to #4  
AlbertEinstein Says:

Seems like Ehud Olmert is the Jimmy Carter of Israel.

Nah, Carter has hair.


 May 20, 2012 at 11:43 AM Nussi Says:

Who thinks we should listen to Olmert the crook he was one of the most corrupt politicians in Israels history
He should be happy he isn't in jail


 May 20, 2012 at 11:47 AM MIESQ Says:

What is with leftists? If spliting the city would work sure why not but as experience has shown both in the North and in Gaza the Arabs are not going to be OK with bits and peices they want it all. Desiring peace should not be a suicide fantasy.


 May 20, 2012 at 01:11 PM Mainstream Israeli leader? Says:

Referred to as a mainstream Israeli leader? His wife and children are to the left of the left. His sons deserted and live in France. His bleatings are those of self destruction for klal Yisrael. He should SHUT UP. He nearly destroyed Israel once - should never be heard to give him another bite. Hard to believe he is Jewish in any way. OLMERT YOU HAD YOUR CHANCE - YOU FAILED. JUST GET OUT OF THE WAY


 May 20, 2012 at 02:25 PM a nelson Says:

Reply to #9  

What is with leftists? If spliting the city would work sure why not but as experience has shown both in the North and in Gaza the Arabs are not going to be OK with bits and peices they want it all. Desiring peace should not be a suicide fantasy.

thy have always felt that anti-semites hate Jews, but not gentilized "Israelis". No matter how many times they are proven wrong they'll go to their deathbed in that belief


 May 20, 2012 at 02:26 PM esther Says:

Reply to #9  

What is with leftists? If spliting the city would work sure why not but as experience has shown both in the North and in Gaza the Arabs are not going to be OK with bits and peices they want it all. Desiring peace should not be a suicide fantasy.

don't even say if it would work,why not.cvs! that's a whole nother argument and it's that type of thinking that got us here in the first place.no one can give any of ey away no matter what tthey think the out come might be.


 May 20, 2012 at 02:39 PM LouKay Says:

Olmert is a corrupt politician. He will say anything as long as he is making money at it.

I wonder who's payroll he's on now ...


 May 20, 2012 at 03:24 PM Barsechel Says:

Olmert is a traitor in any other country he would be charged with treason! He is a shame and a disgrace to the Jewish People! Jerusalem is Jewish for over 2500 years!
Yemach Shmo !


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