Olmert hints Jerusalem division is inevitable
( Reuters ) - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert signaled on Tuesday Israel might have no choice but to share Jerusalem with the Palestinians in a peace deal, citing international pressure for compromise over the holy city.
"The world that is friendly to Israel ... that really supports Israel, when it speaks of the future, it speaks of Israel in terms of the '67 borders. It speaks of the division of Jerusalem," Olmert said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in a move that failed to win international recognition. It regards all of Jerusalem as its "eternal and indivisible" capital.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of the state they aspire to establish in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.
The future of Jerusalem is one of the core issues Israel and the Palestinians agreed to tackle in peace talks they renewed after a U.S.-hosted summit in Annapolis, Maryland in November.
Olmert's comments appeared to be another move by the prime minister to prepare Israeli public opinion for the possibility of a deal that would loosen Israel's control of all of Jerusalem.
His deputy and close confidant, Haim Ramon, has said Israel should in future negotiate creation of a "special regime" that would govern some of the sacred sites in Jerusalem's walled Old City.
In separate remarks on Tuesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak made clear there would be no sweeping changes in Israel's network of hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank while negotiations went ahead.