Jerusalem – Israel’s opposition leader is vowing that Jerusalem will not be part of any negotiations with the Palestinians, just as the campaign for Prime Minister of Israel has just gotten underway.
“We will not conduct negotiations on Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people for the past 3,000 years,” said Israeli Knesset opposition leader Benyamin Netanyahu yesterday in a speech to the Knesset. “I did not do so in the past, and we have no intention of doing so in the future.”
The speech coincided with the inaugural meeting of the Knesset’s winter session and with his opening speech in the Israeli election campaign.
Mr. Netanyahu emphasized his desire to maintain “defensible borders for the State of Israel” in any political arrangement, and returning to Israel’s pre-1967 borders would be a non-starter.
“The Jordan Valley, the Judean Desert and the Golan Heights will continue to serve as the State of Israel’s eastern security belt,” Mr. Netanyahu said.
Judging by statements that were made by the head of the Palestinian negotiating team, Ahmed Qurei, on Monday, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is not hiding its partisan support for Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as the Palestinian choice for prime minister of Israel.
Mr. Qurei described it as “a demonstration of leadership by Livni when she refused to remove Jerusalem from the negotiations.”
He made his statement referring to Ms. Livni’s refusal to make a commitment to her potential coalition partners that she would not negotiate the future of Jerusalem with PA representatives.
“She held tough negotiations with us,” Mr. Qurei said, “But she was fair the whole length of the way and placed all of the core issues on the table.”
Foreign Minister Livni was dealt a particularly painful blow when resigning Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced in his speech to the Knesset that he had no intention of declaring temporary incapacitation, although the daily Ha’aretz newspaper confirmed that the Israel State’s Attorney intends to issue a formal indictment of Mr. Olmert.
By reneging on his often-stated promise to resign, Mr. Olmert rejected the request that was put forward by people in Ms. Livni’s camp to declare his own incapacitation, which would have allowed Ms. Livni to take his place.
“I will continue to serve in my post until the establishment of a new government,” said Mr. Olmert. Ms. Livni’s glum reception of Mr. Olmert’s statement was plainly visible and she, as opposed to the other cabinet ministers, did not bother to shake Mr. Olmert’s hand when he finished his speech.
Mr. Olmert once again announced that he would not hesitate during the transition period to make decisions on political and security issues.
David Bedein can be reached at email@example.com. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008