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Olmert to O.U.: Jerusalem not on table

Ehud Olmert offered assurances after hinting he’d be willing to cede eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods in a peace deal.

During a speech Monday at the Knesset, Israel’s prime minister questioned whether it had been necessary to annex Palestinian villages to Jerusalem when the expanded city map was approved on July 27, 1967. Olmert’s remarks caused a stir since the issue of Jerusalem likely will be on the table at next month’s peace conference in Annapolis, Md.

In response to a letter from the Orthodox Union insisting that Olmert not cede portions of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority, Rachael Risby-Raz, Olmert’s Diaspora affairs adviser, said the prime minister would keep the city united.

“The issue of Jerusalem is currently not under negotiations with the Palestinians,” Risby-Raz wrote. “We assure you, however, that in any future settlement, the prime minister will strengthen the Jewish character of Jerusalem, enhance its Jewish majority, and keep Jerusalem as the eternal, united and internationally recognized capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”

Despite the reassurance, the O.U. still found Olmert’s commitment unsatisfactory, noting that in light of his comments “and in light of the unparalleled significance to all Jews of the fate of the holy city, we must ask Prime Minister Olmert to be more explicit about his intentions and commitment to keep Jerusalem as the ‛eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish People,'” a statement from President Stephen Savitsky said.

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