Washington: Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak raised anew the prospect of sharing Jerusalem with the Palestinians as part of a peace deal, in sharp contrast with views held by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Jerusalem will be discussed at the end with... western Jerusalem and the Jewish (areas) for us, the refugee-populated Arab neighbourhoods for them and an agreed upon solution in the holy places," Barak told a Washington audience yesterday.
Barak, a former Israeli prime minister from the Labour Party, made his points in a speech to an audience that included Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Speaking before him, Hillary urged Israelis and Palestinians to make compromises on the core issues of the peace process, including that of Jerusalem, which she said was "the most sensitive”.
When Barak made similar remarks about Jerusalem to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in September, he drew a sharp rebuke from aides to Netanyahu, for whom Jerusalem is Israel`s "eternal and undivided capital”.
Barak also said "there is no contradiction ... between a two-state solution and the security of Israel”.
"On the contrary, two states for two peoples is the key condition for enabling Israel, now and in the future, to continue developing the Zionist dream."