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Sharing Jerusalem activist meets U.S. officials

Senior administration and congressional officials met with an Israeli activist who advocates against settlement in sensitive parts of Jerusalem. Danny Seidemann, considered one of the foremost experts on the history and sociology of the city, is in Washington this week on behalf of Ir Amim, a group that according to its literature “aspires to a stable city, equitably shared by both Israeli and Palestinian peoples, a city that ensures the dignity and welfare of all its residents, a city which safeguards their holy places and their historical and cultural heritage.” Americans for Peace Now, which is sponsoring his visit, said Seidemann met with senior officials but did not identify them. Briefing reporters Wednesday after his government meetings, Seidemann said his message was that U.S. pressure can help keep the situation calm. He pointed to Israel’s retreat from plans to settle the “E1″ area connecting Jerusalem and the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement after pressure from Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of state. The Bush administration did not suffer political consequences for that pressure, Seidemann said, and that helped preserve the likelihood of a two-state solution. “The administration took on Israel,” he said. “This was a non-event. There was no blood on the walls.”Seidemann now wants to see pressure on Israel’s government to shut down Jewish settlement in Arab areas in the Old City and around it. Such settlement activity, he warned, could lead to a “conflagration.”