Azerbaijan, Baku, July 21 / Trend , U.Sadigova/
The Israeli government showed the willingness to deal with the issue of settlements with USA, but the international community treats problem of Jewish settlements in the same context with the issue of the status of Jerusalem, said Oded Eren, director of the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies.
"I think that there are two separate sub issue here: the one is the over of settlements are the West Bank and the other is Jerusalem," the Former Israeli Ambassador to the European Union (EU), Eren told Trend in a telephone conversation from Tel Aviv. "In the view of certain of key members of international community the two issues are one in the same. But in the case of Israel, this is a different view."
During the visit to Israel this week, U.S. Defense Minister Robert Gates will discuss with the Israeli government the issue of the Jewish settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan River, as well as in East Jerusalem, The Washington Post reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu at a Sunday meeting of the government refused to fulfill the United States' demands to halt the construction of Jewish homes and neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. The White House considers this building as an obstacle to the peace process in accordance with the principles of the road map. The head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas has refused to resume negotiations with Israel until settlement activity is frozen.
Over 280,000 Israelis live in more than 120 settlements in the West Bank, occupied in the 1967 war. Another 200,000 live in East Jerusalem, which, from the standpoint of the international law also some part of the occupied territories, RIA Novosti reported.
Eren said it is possible for the USA and Israel to reach an agreement on freezing the settlement construction in the West Bank. He believes that Israel, following the pressures of Washington, may cease settlement construction for six months to resume the negotiations and to monitor the reaction of Arab countries during the suspension of construction. Israel made was reciprocated by Arab states, it was reciprocated, then Israel could decide to go further, said Eren who represented the Israeli government in the negotiations with the Palestinians in 1999-2000.
However, if Israel can make concessions in the issue of settlements in the West Bank where the Palestinians intend to establish an independent state, but the country will not agree to compromise in the issue of Jerusalem, the Israeli analyst believes.
After the victory in the Six Day War in 1967, Israel occupied East Jerusalem, and in 1980 passed a law declaring Jerusalem its capital, as well as placed the Israeli Parliament - the Knesset - and many foreign embassies there. The Palestinian government considers East Jerusalem as its capital, as it was before the war began in 1948. However, the UN and international organizations do not recognize the unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem and assign it a neutral status.
A status problem of Jerusalem remains one of difficult ones in the Middle East peace process. The issue on the control over the holy sites of Jerusalem, including the Mosque of al-Aqsa, the Christian Holy Sepulcher and the Jewish Western Wall remains open.
"When it comes to the East Jerusalem I doubt where there is a government in Israel which will be willing to accept this [freezing the construction] to apply to West Bank," Eren said.
He thinks the international community, including the United States should distinguish between issues of constructing settlements in the West Bank, which Israel could stop, and in East Jerusalem, which Jews consider their capital.