Likud MK Reuven Rivlin, a leading candidate to replace President Shimon Peres when his term ends this summer, spoke out against dividing Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Speaking at a conference on the challenges that a peace agreement would pose to Jerusalem at Netanya Academic College, Rivlin said that dividing Jerusalem would exacerbate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rather than solve it.

“The division of Jerusalem is the perpetuation of the Jewish- Arab conflict [from] pre- 1948 Jerusalem,” he said. “Jerusalem is very mixed. The Arab public was allowed to spread to the west, and this decision was made with clear knowledge that Jerusalem would not be divided – even Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan were against the division of Jerusalem.”

Rivlin said that the government had neglected east Jerusalem, and called on Israel to extend full sovereignty to eastern Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods.

“The government of Israel is responsible for the difficult situation in east Jerusalem, and in order to create a united Jerusalem, which is the desire of the majority of the Israeli public, we need real sovereignty,” Rivlin said. “In our leadership today it is very difficult to implement decisions, and therefore [our leaders] continue to maintain the status quo.”

Rivlin addressed his chances in the presidential race, and said that despite their ideological differences, he expected to receive votes from some Arab MKs.

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