Former Labor party leader, Shimon Peres, said on Saturday during a press conference with Indian reporters, that Jerusalem will remain the united capital of Israel, forever, but will be “’open and accessible for all nations”.
The statement of Peres came less than a week after Kalman Gayer, the advisor of Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, was quoted by the Newsweek magazine saying that Sharon is willing to concede 90% of the eastern part of the city.
Meanwhile, a recent poll conducted by the Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, showed that half of the Israeli public is willing to “concede part of Jerusalem in the work frame of a peace deal with the Palestinians.
The poll also showed the Kadima party dropping to 38 Knesset seats, Labor rising to 23, and Likud still at 11 seats.
Sharon denied the Newsweek report, while his rivals, mainly from the Likud party used Gayer’s comments against the policy of Sharon and his new Kadima party which he formed after splitting from the Likud.
Peres said on Friday that Israel is committed to the Road Map Plan, and is ready to conduct negotiations regarding the West Bank.
“We will conduct negotiations with the Palestinians, but they have to know that they are responsible for their own future”, Peres said, “They should stop the attacks so we can proceed in the talks”.
Also, Peres added that “killings and negotiations” cannot be held together, adding that the “problem is not with the Palestinian nation, but with terror”, according to Peres.
The statements of Peres come while the Israeli army resumed its assassination and military operations in the occupied territories, including the Gaza Strip despite Israel’s withdrawal.
Israeli Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni, and a close ally to Sharon said that the issue of dividing Jerusalem is not valid at present.
“Israel must preserve its holy sites”, she said, “We also have the power to attorney from the nature to hold negotiations”
Meanwhile, Peres, who is currently holding a senior position in Kadima party after quitting the Labor party, is expected to meet with European Union Envoy Javier Solana on Sunday, to discuss a plan for the development of Gaza economy.
Solana will also discuss Europe’s willingness to advance the Israeli-Jordanian economic partnership in the Dead Sea and Arava regions.
Also, Solana and Peres are slated to discuss the Palestinian Convoy deal which was delayed pending an Israeli decision. Five buses are expected to travel from Gaza to the West Bank as part of the convoy deal.