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Olmert: Jerusalem division inevitable

The division of Jerusalem could be inevitable under a future Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, Ehud Olmert said.

The Israeli prime minister hinted in an interview published Tuesday that while the Jewish state considers all of Jerusalem its eternal capital, it may have to defer to international demands that eastern parts of the city be ceded to a future Palestine.

The world “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 told the Jerusalem Post.

But Olmert appeared to be referring to his government’s proposal to give up Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem rather than the more contested Old City. Maale Adumim, a major West Bank settlement just east of Jerusalem, would remain part of Israel, he said.

Speaking a week before a visit by President Bush, Olmert said he was still hopeful a peace accord could be secured this year with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Part of his optimism derives from the array of Western leaders who have proven themselves sympathetic to Israel and sincere on the need for a feasible accommodation with the Palestinians, Olmert added.

“It’s a coincidence that is almost ‘the hand of God,'” he said, “that Bush is president of the United States, that Nicolas Sarkozy is the president of France, that Angela Merkel is the chancellor of Germany, that Gordon Brown is the prime minister of England and that the special envoy to the Middle East is Tony
Blair.”

“What possible combination could be more comfortable for the State of Israel?”

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