Thursday, November 1, 2007

Palestinian push on Jerusalem

Ahead of the Annapolis conference, the Palestinians have begun pushing their claims on Jerusalem again:
The Palestinian Authority has demanded that Israel formally sanction a document in which it promises to permit Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem to continue to operate, the Shin Bet security service has told the government in recent days.
The document, known as the "Peres letter," was appended to the Oslo II agreements of 1993.
The Shin Bet - which is presenting its analysis of the negotiating stance the Palestinians are expected to put forward at next month's Annapolis peace conference - has also warned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert against falling into the trap of declaring Israeli recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The warning points especially to the fact that "East Jerusalem" is understood to encompass the Old City and the Western Wall, both.
Shin Bet analysts are weary of a Palestinian negotiating ploy in which Israel would be lured to agree in principle to recognize East Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian state, while delaying debate on the particular details of which side would maintain authority over religious sites.
President Shimon Peres, who served as foreign minister at the time of the signing of the Oslo Accords, had dispatched a letter to his Norwegian counterpart, Johan Jorgen Holst, stating Israel's recognition of the importance of Palestinian institutions in the city and its commitment to protect them.
Initially, Peres denied the existence of the letter after former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat revealed its contents. The intense public pressure which ensued from within the media and the political community eventually forced Peres to acknowledge the letter as fact.
The Palestinians are demanding that Israel allow the renewed activity of Palestinian institutions in east Jerusalem, chief among them Orient House, which was shut down in August 2001 in response to the Palestinian suicide bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria in the city.
The Palestinian demand is one of a series of measures in which Israel is expected to adopt so as to ease tensions on the ground, as is prescribed in the road map.
Nobody seems to be demanding that Palestinians recognize any Israeli rights in Jerusalem.

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