A confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that his government would support a division of Jerusalem, which is reportedly a key component of an Israeli-Palestinian declaration to be made at a U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference next month.
As part of recent negotiations between the sides, Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon has proposed turning over many of the Arab neighborhoods of occupied east Jerusalem to the Palestinians. According to Ramon, the Palestinians could establish the capital of a future state in the sector of the city, which Israel occupied from Jordan in the 1967.
In return, Israel would receive the recognition of the international community, including Arab states, of its sovereignty over Jewish neighborhoods and the existence of its capital there, Ramon said, according to the AP. "If we reach a deal with the Palestinians, the Arab world and the international community according to which the Jewish neighbourhoods of Jerusalem will be recognised as the capital of Israel and the Arab neighbourhoods as part of the Arab capital, will that be a bad deal?"
"It is in Israel's interest to tackle the issue of Jerusalem in the negotiations," Ramon said.
"There are two central parties that agree to this," Ramon told Army Radio. "The most important thing is to preserve the state of Israel Jewish and democratic." Under Ramon's proposal, neighborhoods in east Jerusalem where about 170,000 Palestinians live would be transferred to Palestinian sovereignty, Ramon said.