(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Top Palestinian negotiator, Ahmed Qurei, rejected on Monday any possibility for peace without negotiation over Jerusalem in a speech to the Council for Peace and Security, a left-leaning group of former Israeli security officials.
He made the statement in response to Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu's promise in the Knesset plenum Monday morning that the Likud would not negotiate on sharing Jerusalem. Shas, too, had conditioned its willingness to join a coalition led by Kadima chair Tzipi Livni on keeping Jerusalem "off the table."
Qurei, known popularly as Abu Ala, praised Livni for rejecting the Shas demands.
"There can be no peace without Jerusalem," he said. "How can the Palestinians agree to such a peace? If you want peace, you have to put Jerusalem on the table."
Livni "didn't say she would give up Jerusalem, but she will leave it on the table," Qurei continued. "She's strong and trustworthy enough to say, 'this we can give you and this we can't.'"
Asked by an attendee if the peace process would continue in the event of a Likud victory, Qurei said that despite the election rhetoric a Likud government was likely to negotiate over Jerusalem. "Sometimes in opposition you say something and then in government you do something else," he said.
On the Annapolis process itself, Qurei said an agreement was unlikely to be reached this year. "The political situation on both sides is difficult. Israel is on the eve of elections
and the Palestinians have an internal problem which we hope will be resolved soon with Egyptian help."
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