Livni criticizes Swedish J'lem proposal

Livni criticizes EU Jle

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Monday criticized a Swedish proposal that the European Union declare Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Speaking at a Kadima faction meeting, Livni said, "Only a genuine Israeli initiative, consisting of an historic agreement, would take foreign initiatives off the table." The former foreign minister added, "A year ago, I conducted negotiations, and we stood for the interests of the State of Israel. The moment that the aim is to satisfy US interests, the result is obviously that the historic decision won't be taken." Also addressing the Swedish proposal, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Monday sent an official letter to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, in which he insisted that Jerusalem remain united "as the eternal capital of the State of Israel." Barkat's letter also called into question the future role of the EU in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians should the Swedish initiative be endorsed in its current form. "The recent Swedish proposal to divide Jerusalem is a serious threat not just to the future of the city of Jerusalem, but also to the future role of the entire European Union in the peace process." "By attempting to dictate the outcome of negotiations now, the Swedish delegation will strip the European Union of its right to serve as an honest mediator," stated Barkat, seeking to draw attention to the fact that a Palestinian state has yet to be established. EU foreign ministers were set to meet to decide on the Swedish draft on Monday. Ahead of the meeting, Israeli and European officials believed that the conclusions would be different from the original proposal. However, what remained unclear, after nearly a week of internal EU wrangling and heavy lobbying by both Israelis and Palestinians, was exactly what the changes would be. Israel is pushing for a text much shorter than the three-to-four-page Swedish draft, and one that would commend Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's housing-start moratorium in the settlements and urge the Palestinians back to the negotiation table. The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, is trying to convince the 27 EU nations to support the Swedish draft resolution on the Middle East that for the first time refers to "Palestine," and calls for a resumption of negotiations that would lead to a Palestinian state with "East Jerusalem" as its capital. The proposal by Sweden, which this month is winding down its tenure as rotating president of the EU, is also reportedly backed by Ireland, Belgium, Britain and Malta, while Italy, Holland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Romania, Poland and Slovenia have come out against the wording of the text. Herb Keinon and Abraham Selig contributed to this report