Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, stated on Monday during a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security cabinet meeting that having 270.000 Arabs living by the Jews in Jerusalem will inevitably lead to more attacks against Israel.Olmert added that the issue of Jerusalem will most likely not be resolved during talks with the Palestinians by the end of the year, which is the stated deadline goal of peace talks. He believes that other issues such as refugees and the borders of the Palestinian state could be agreed upon by the stated deadline.
He also stated that there is no chance to reach a comprehensive understating on Jerusalem by the end of this year.
Olmert's statements were slammed by several Palestinian officials and were branded as more obstacles to the peace process.
Palestinian chief negotiator, Dr. Saeb Erekat, stated that these statements showed a determination by Israel to destroy the peace process and all peace talks.
Also, Nabil Abu Rodeina, the spokesperson for Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, said that Jerusalem is a Red Line for all Palestinians and that East Jerusalem will be the capital of the future Palestinian state.
“The Palestinians will not agree to any peace deal that excludes Jerusalem”, Abu Rodeina added.
Earlier this month, Olmert said that the Palestinians and Israelis “had never been so close to the peace deal”.
Olmert’s spokesperson, Mark Regev, said that Israel believes that talks should not allow the most difficult issues to destroy the peace process but instead the negotiators must find a mechanism to continue the discussion in 2009.
In November 2007 both Olmert and Abbas started US-sponsored talks but disputes over Israel’s ongoing settlement construction and expansion obstructed these talks.
Referring to indirect talks with Syria, Olmert said that Syria must understand that it cannot have relations with Iran, Hezbollah and other armed groups and at the same time have parallel negotiations with Israel.
Furthermore, Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that Palestinian negotiators headed by Ahmad Qorea’, and Israeli negotiators headed by Israel Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, are slated to arrive in Washington on Wednesday for further talks.