Ramon hints at dividing Jerusalem

Ehud Olmert’s top deputy drew fire for outlining an Israeli plan to divide control of Jerusalem.

Vice Premier Haim Ramon revealed this week that a peace proposal he has drafted would cede to the Palestinians control of Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, while Israel would retain the western parts of the city and Jewish sites in the Old City such as the Western Wall and Jewish Quarter.

Ramon hinted that Israel also would relinquish at least some control of the Temple Mount, which houses two major Muslim shrines.

“In the area of the ‘sacred basin’ there will be a special arrangement giving expression to all of Israel’s special interests in managing holy sites,” he wrote in a letter to a Jerusalem city councilman, a copy of which was obtained by JTA.

The suggestion that the Olmert government might be willing to cede Judaism’s most sacred site to the Palestinians drew right-wing ire. Ramon said his plan is consistent with the Israeli-Palestinian vision set out by President Bush in the U.S.-led “road map.”

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