Limitations on Jerusalem`s sovereignty unacceptable: Israel

Last Updated: Monday, August 24, 2009 - 22:53

Jerusalem: Ahead of his high level meetings
with US and EU leaders to revive the vexed Middle East peace
process, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday vowed "not
to accept any limitations" on sovereignty over Jerusalem.

"The Prime Minister will explain during his meetings in
London and Berlin that Israel will not accept any limitation
on its sovereignty over Jerusalem and that there must be
guarantees settlers can lead a normal life," a close
confidante to Netanyahu was quoted as saying just before the
Israeli leader took off for his Europe visit.

"We must also take care of the regular needs of the
settlers in Judea and Samaria, even if the process is
initiated in the end of September," he added.

The Israeli Prime Minister is scheduled to meet special
US Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, today in London in order to
continue the discussion on the Obama administration`s demands
for confidence building measures between Israel and the Arab
world.

The US is demanding that Israel freeze temporarily
constructions in the settlements, seen as the major hurdle in
kick starting stalled Israel-Palestinian peace process, and is
asking the Arab world to begin normalising ties with Israel
immediately.

Government sources here say a compromise being
discussed could see Israel freeze building except for 2,500
units already under construction.

The number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank has
more than doubled since the mid-1990s, reaching around
300,000, leading to expanded construction activities in the
name of "natural growth".

The Palestinian Authority has dubbed settlement
activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as the biggest
hurdle in the path of the peace process, refusing to renew
peace talks even though Netanyahu has proposed direct talks
between the two sides following UN General Assembly in
September.

The issue of Jerusalem can also stall peace moves as
the Holy city is considered the capital by both sides and it
would be politically suicidal for any Palestinian leader to
compromise on the Palestinian right over the city.

Meanwhile, a senior political source in Jerusalem told
daily Ha`aretz that the United States has informed Israel that
it is interested in assuming the role of "active mediator"
during the talks, and "have a place at the negotiating table."

However, Netanyahu`s Foreign Minister, Avigdor
Lieberman, told reporters Sunday that he sees no chance of
peace.

"In the 16 years since the Oslo Accords, we haven`t
managed to bring peace to the region, and I`m willing to bet
that there won`t be peace in another 16 years, either.
Certainly not on the basis of the two-state solution,"
Lieberman said.

Sources believe that if an understanding is reached
regarding settlement construction, a tripartite meeting could
be held with President Barack Obama and Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations.

Bureau Report



First Published: Monday, August 24, 2009 - 22:53

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