Israel’s elected leaders in recent weeks have sent out mixed messages regarding their negotiating position on Jerusalem’s status as the undivided and eternal capital of Israel, said Nathan Diament, director of public policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
In a speech last Friday at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Friday, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon said that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have already agreed on the redivision of Jerusalem and its establishment as a capital to two nations. This comes in contradiction to repeated vows by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to members of his own government that Jerusalem’s division is not being discussed.
In his remarks, which can be watched on CSpan (here), Ramon first diminishes the Zionist character of the city:
“A third of the Jerusalem is Palestinians, another third is ultra-Orthodox… so you know that when you come to Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Israel, this is a non-Zionist city because two-thirds are not Zionists.”
Ramon continued: “For the sake of Jerusalem, not because of the Palestinians… Jerusalem will be the capital of two states… The Arab neighborhoods… will be Palestinian. And all the Jewish neighborhoods will be Israel, including those that we built in Jerusalem, behind the Green Line after 1967, like Pisgav Ze’v and Gilo and Har Homa.”
On Monday, Olmert affirmed Israel’s right to build additional housing in exactly those areas: “There is no contradiction between the people of Israel's total allegiance to Jerusalem and its unity and our ambitions to create peace within it.”
Also on Monday, at an AIPAC Policy Conference session, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's most senior adviser, Dr. Tal Becker, declined to respond to Diament's question on whether Israeli negotiators view the redivision of Jerusalem as "a price too high to pay" for a peace agreement.
“The Israeli government is not being straight with supporters and citizens of the Jewish state,” said Diament, of the OU. “Mr. Olmert routinely says a redivision of Jerusalem is not on the table, yet Ramon is saying exactly the opposite. Mr. Olmert should make a clear statement during his visit to Washington about his government's position on this critical matter.”
For more on OU’s efforts on Jerusalem, click here