david axelrod 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
WASHINGTON – White
House senior adviser David Axelrod told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that Jerusalem will likely
be the final issue addressed in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Other White House officials have said that the US never meant to make
an issue of Jerusalem at this point in the process, rather that events
– particularly what happened during Biden’s visit – put it on the
as an issue can’t be the first issue for negotiations. It probably will
be the last,” Axelrod said, characterizing the position of US President
Barack Obama and the message he understood Obama to have conveyed
during a lunch meeting with Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel.
meeting came as US-brokered indirect talks between Israelis and
Palestinians are expected to begin in the coming days, despite
differences between the sides over whether final-status issues would be
discussed. While Israel prefers issues such as Jerusalem to be deferred
until direct negotiations, the US has indicated that final-status issues
will at least be broached in the early talks as the Palestinians have
The issue of Jerusalem derailed the expected
start of indirect negotiations in March, when the Interior Ministry
approved additional Jewish housing in east Jerusalem during a visit to
Israel by Vice President Joe Biden meant to launch the process, a move
that infuriated the Americans and the Palestinians.
Wiesel to lunch at White House
Proximity talks to begin Wednesday
'US commitment to Israel unshakable'
tensions between the US and Israel, which included several public
American condemnations of the housing and Israel’s actions, prompted
objections from many US Jewish quarters. During that time, in mid-April,
Wiesel published an ad in The Washington Post and The New York Times
seen as critical of the Obama administration.
Wiesel, a Holocaust
survivor and renowned author, wrote in his ad of Jews’ historic
connection to Jerusalem and declared that “pressure will not produce a
solution.” He also asked, “Why tackle the most complex and sensitive
problem prematurely? Why not first take steps which will allow the
Israeli and Palestinian communities to find ways to live together in an
atmosphere of security? Why not leave the most difficult, the most
sensitive issue, for such a time?”
Though Axelrod was not at
Tuesday’s lunch, he said he was sure that the issue of the ad had come
up, and that the president had reassured Wiesel of his agreement that
Jerusalem should not be addressed first.
Weisel: It was a meeting between
After the meeting, Wiesel told reporters that in recent weeks “there
were moments of tension. But the tension I think is gone, which is
good. The relations between Israel and the United States have a
history. And that history has always been one of understanding.”
Wiesel declined to discuss specifics of the meeting or the issue of
Jewish construction in east Jerusalem, though he noted that the two men
had discussed the subject and that when it comes to negotiations, “The
process will continue.”
Wiesel described the encounter as “a meeting between two friends, two
Nobel Peace laureates,” as well as “a good kosher lunch.”
Axelrod noted that Obama had extended the invitation before the ad’s