Barak: Israel willing to divide Jerusalem
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Barak: Israel willing to divide Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel would be willing to divide control over Jerusalem as part of a peace deal, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told an Israeli newspaper.

A likely scenario, Barak told Haaretz, would have Israel retaining western Jerusalem and the 12 Jewish neighborhoods that are home to 200,000 residents, while the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem home to about 250,000 Palestinians would form the capital of a Palestinian state. A "special regime" would oversee arrangements for the Old City, the Mount of Olives and the City of David, he said. 

Barak told the daily the other principles of a peace deal that he believes can be agreed upon by both sides include: "two states for two nations; an end to the conflict and the end of all future demands; the demarcation of a border that will run inside the Land of Israel, and within that border will lie a solid Jewish majority for generations and on the other side will be a demilitarized Palestinian state but one that will be viable politically, economically, and territorially; keeping the settlement blocs in our hands; retrieving and relocating the isolated settlements into the settlement blocs or within Israel; a solution to the refugee problem [whereby refugees return to] the Palestinian state or are rehabilitated by international aid; comprehensive security arrangements and a solution to the Jerusalem problem."

According to the article, Barak appeared upbeat about the chances for success in this iteration of the peace process. 

"If [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu leads a process, a significant number of rightist ministers will stand with him," the defense chief said. "So what is needed is courage to make historic, painful decisions. I’m not saying that there is a certainty for success, but there is a chance. This chance must be exploited to the fullest."