Kadima official offers Palestinians a J'lem capital

Dovish Schneller's observations the most far-ranging to date from Kadima candidate.

security fence 88 (photo credit: )
security fence 88
(photo credit: )
A significant number of Arab neighborhoods on the periphery of Jerusalem will eventually serve as the capital of the Palestinian state, Othniel Schneller, a religious dove who is on Kadima's Knesset list, said Wednesday. His remarks were the most far-ranging on the future of Jerusalem to date by a Kadima candidate. The Jerusalem-born Schneller, 54, who lives in a West Bank settlement and served two decades ago as secretary-general of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, told an audience at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies that while Israel would maintain full sovereignty over "historical" Jerusalem, which he defined as all the Jewish neighborhoods and the Old City, many of the outlying Arab neighborhoods would be ceded to the Palestinians and serve as the capital of their future state. "Some of the neighborhoods of Jerusalem... are not part of historical Jerusalem, and therefore we make a clear and sharp distinction between them," Schneller said in presenting Kadima's platform on the future of Jerusalem. "Those neighborhoods which are not part of historical Jerusalem, which in the future will serve as the Palestinian capital, will not be part of the capital of Israel." Schneller listed Kafr Akab, A-Ram, Shuafat, Hizmeh, Abu Dis, A-Zayim and A-Tur as not being part of Jewish Jerusalem. In the past, Schneller, something of a black sheep inthe settler community, has spoken out in favor of territorial compromise, saying that the struggle is over the size of such a withdrawal. He stressed Wednesday that a Kadima government, even as it redrew Jerusalem's borders, would work to strengthen the Israeli public's ever-decreasing connection to "historic" Jerusalem. In contrast to Schneller, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) blasted any division of the capital as an impediment to real peace. "The division of Jerusalem will eternalize the conflict and not solve it," he said. MK Gilad Erdan, who heads Likud's response team, said that Schneller's statements took Kadima another step toward the extreme left. He said that according to the Jerusalem Law, conceding land in Jerusalem requires a special majority of 80 MKs and would never pass. Likud MK Uzi Landau said that Schneller's statements were intended to lead the way for Olmert to reveal his intentions to give up the Temple Mount and the Old City to Hamas. He said that Olmert's shortsightedness would threaten the security of Jerusalem residents and leave them unprotected from terror attacks. A Kadima spokesman said he doubted that Schneller said such things. The other legislators who addressed the audience maintained their long-held party positions on Jerusalem. Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.