PA official: J'lem talks on and under table

PA Jerusalem affairs advisor tells 'Post' there will be no Israeli control over east Jerusalem.

jerusalem jaffa 224 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
jerusalem jaffa 224 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hatem Abdel Qader, the Jerusalem affairs adviser to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, confirmed Tuesday that Jerusalem is one of the issues currently being discussed by Israeli and PA negotiators. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Abdel Qader said Jerusalem "is not only on the table, it's also under the table." Asked to explain the second part of his remark, he said: "This means that the negotiations with the Israelis are taking place both openly and secretly." The Palestinians made it clear during the negotiations they were insisting on a full Israeli withdrawal from the eastern part of Jerusalem that was captured by Israel in 1967. "Jerusalem is one of the main core issues," Abdel Qader, who is also a top Fatah leader, told the Post. "Although we haven't reached the stage of a breakthrough in the negotiations on Jerusalem, we can say that the talks are continuing. The Israeli government knows that there will be no solution without solving the problem of Jerusalem." Abdel Qader dismissed the idea that Israel would retain control of some parts of east Jerusalem. "Our position is, 'Take it all or leave it,'" he said. "We have also made it clear to the Israelis that we won't accept any partial solutions for Jerusalem. As far as we are concerned, Jerusalem must be one geographic, political and religious unit." He said the parties were still trying to reach an agreement over which Jerusalem they were talking about - the city that's mentioned in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 in 1947, the one that was occupied in 1967 or the one that was expanded by Israel afterward. "On this issue, there hasn't been any progress yet," he said. Abdel Qader said the negotiations were not only focusing on the Arab part of Jerusalem, but on its west as well. "There are Jews who say they have rights and property in the eastern part of Jerusalem, and that's fine with us," he said. "At the same time, there are Arabs who have a lot of property in the western section of Jerusalem. So the talks are not only over the eastern part." As for Shas's threat to quit the coalition over the negotiations on Jerusalem, the PA official said he could not understand why the haredi party was upset. "Shas is not new to Israeli politics," he said. "I can't understand why they're so upset. What did they think, that peace could be achieved without [dividing] Jerusalem? Have they forgotten that [then-prime minister] Ehud Barak already offered us large parts of Jerusalem at the Camp David summit [in 2000]?" Abdel Qader complained that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were paying the price for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's coalition problems. "Olmert's position is very weak and we have sensed this in the current negotiations," he said. "He's like a woman who is dying to get married, but is afraid of becoming pregnant." An Israeli official on Tuesday denied that the question of Jerusalem is being discussed at this juncture in the talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The official told The Jerusalem Post that Jerusalem is one of the most contentious and sensitive issues and will therefore be raised only towards the end of the negotiations. Mark Weiss contributed to this report.