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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Jerusalem 'officially' on the table?

US Consul General to East Jerusalem ambassador to 'Palestine' Jacob Walles (pictured) told a 'Palestinian' newspaper in an interview published Thursday that the parties have agreed to 'negotiate' on the issue of Jerusalem, and that Israel has agreed to redivide the city for the first time in more than forty years.
Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to negotiate on the issue of Jerusalem, as well as parts of the Dead Sea, US Consul-General Jacob Walles said in an interview published by the Palestinian daily, Al-Ayyam on Thursday.

According to the interview, which was cited by Israel Radio, the consul-general said that negotiations would be based on the 1967 borders, with changes to those borders being possible should both sides agree.

Walles told the paper that the other core issues, including that of the refugees, were also expected to be discussed.
Curiously, the US State Department has issued a denial.
The U.S. State Department on Thursday ... denied the report that Jerusalem has been the subject of discussion between Israel and the Palestinians.

"A senior U.S. official who participated in the discussions denies that the Israeli side, led by chief negotiator, Foreign Minister Livni, has been willing to negotiate concerning Jerusalem," read part of the U.S. statement.

The statement also addressed the subject of borders, saying "The U.S. government has not taken a position on borders. While the discussions between the parties are confidential, we can state that the parties have not in any way prejudiced long-held views on borders."
What's even more curious is the reaction of an "Israeli source, who is linked to the negotiations" passed on by Haaretz:
The Israeli source, who is linked to the negotiations, said Israel was surprised by Walles' comments, which go against an understanding shared by all parties about disclosing details of the talks.

The source said that there has been no discussion as of yet about the status of Jerusalem.
Here's my gut reaction to this story. First, Walles is telling the truth. I don't know why he chose to do so (my one missing link in this story), and I can only attribute his doing so to political ineptitude or to a desire to protect the Arab regimes from what he sees as the prospect of losing their rallying cry against Israel.

Second, the State Department issued a denial because they know that Livni's Kadima party has a primary on September 17 and Livni is the leading candidate. Livni is involved in a tough battle with Transportation and former Defense Minister and IDF Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz. Mofaz is a lot less pliable than Livni and the State Department wants Livni to win. If the concessions to which Livni has already agreed were made public, even Kadima would vote her out. Therefore, the US is covering for her.

Third, the "Israeli source who is linked to the negotiations" is likely one of Livni's flunkies and is saying what she wants him to say. Notice his nuanced speech as I highlighted above. There's an agreement not to disclose details of the talks. Jerusalem's final status has not been discussed - but its division may have been and probably has been discussed.



Here's a statement issued by Israel's Prime Minister's office:
"We are not negotiating on Jerusalem with the Palestinians," the statement said.

"The prime minister has offered to set up a separate forum for the discussion of the issue, to be included in a future agreement, but this forum is separate from the current talks. There is currently no point in holding talks on the subject of Jerusalem."

The statement added that "the issue of Jerusalem should be solved by future negotiations, not during current talks. We would like to express our astonishment at the consul's statement, which goes against the agreement between the US, Israel, and the Palestinians. The sides have agreed not to publicize the matter, as it could harm negotiations."
Or harm Livni's chances of being Prime Minister. The only surprise here is that Olmert is bothering to try to protect her.


At 8:27 PM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

It's very simple. Shas has threatened to bolt if Jerusalem is (publicly) put on the table. No Shas, no Kadima-led government, no agreement with the Palestinians. Olmert gone, Livni gone, America's lackeys gone, Bush's Nobel Prize gone. Yes, State is covering.

At 8:53 PM, Blogger J. Lichty said...

Or harm Livni's chances of being Prime Minister. The only surprise here is that Olmert is bothering to try to protect her.

He is bound by the fate of Jerusalem as well, if Yishai has any shred of dignity left (highly debatable). Olmert wants to do as much harm as possible before he moves to France.

At 7:06 AM, Blogger Findalis said...

If Jerusalem is divided again there will be riots. And not just from the religious groups either.

Only the very far-left in Israel wants a divided Jerusalem.


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