[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: Leaving the Jerusalem issue to the end of the
talks means throwing in all the chips before the issue is settled.
"We are so close to the peace we all so desperately want. All the other
issues have been settled. Are a bunch of stones more valuable than the
Israeli blood that will flow if the deal is not made?" So will argue not
only the Olmert team and their supporters in the media etc. but also Rabbi
Rabbi Yosef could readily take the position that for "pikuach nefesh" (life
endangering situation) Israel has to cut a deal on Jerusalem at all costs.
The "pikuach nefesh" standard for Rabbi Yosef relies heavily on expectations
regarding the short term consequences of a decision rather than long term,
so it would not be particularly difficult for the Olmert team to provide
Rabbi Yosef with various "experts" to back a "trade Jerusalem to save lives"
Source: J'lem will be last topic on peace agenda
By Barak Ravid and Yair Ettinger, Haaretz Correspondents Last update - 06:27
A senior political source in Jerusalem stressed Sunday that Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert has still not formulated an idea for resolving the question of
Jerusalem is likely to be left for last in the negotiations with the
Palestinians as the Israeli side has become convinced in recent weeks that
it is too sensitive and complex an issue, with potentially negative
ramifications for the entire negotiating process.
From the point of view of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the question of
Jerusalem is particularly difficult. Moreover, there are concerns that talks
on Jerusalem have the potential to break up the coalition, since the
ultra-Orthodox Shas has established it as cause for leaving the government.
"It is obvious to him how a solution to the question of the borders and the
refugees would look like, and that it would more or less be in line with
proposals that have been raised in the past," the source noted.
"On the other hand, on the question of Jerusalem, he has many doubts and he
is not inclined to adopt any of the solutions or ideas that have been raised
in previous negotiations."
The question of Jerusalem was raised during talks held by Foreign Ministry
Director General Aaron Abramovich in Paris a week ago. Abramovich met with
Jean-David Levitte, adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy on foreign affairs,
and with other senior French Foreign Ministry officials, briefing them on
the progress in the negotiations.
Haaretz has learned that the Abramovich told the French officials that it is
highly likely that that the negotiations on Jerusalem will have to be
postponed because of the domestic political crisis that they might trigger.
Abramovich last night denied having raised domestic political concerns in
the matter of Jerusalem during his talks in Paris.
It also appears that U.S. President George W. Bush supports postponing talks
on Jerusalem until the end of the negotiations. During his visit to Israel
and the Palestinian Authority two weeks ago, Bush released a statement in
which he describes how he views progress in the negotiations. According to
the U.S. leader, Jerusalem is "a difficult matter," politically and
religiously for both sides, and describes a solution to the issue as the
most complicated challenge of the process.
The political challenges on the issue of Jerusalem focus on Shas, even
though sources in Olmert's office say that "the matter for Shas is not the
discussion on Jerusalem but its final outcome."
However, Shas' Council of Torah Sages met Sunday to discuss the party's red
lines on negotiations with the Palestinians and decided that "the minute
they begin talking on Jerusalem, Shas will immediately leave the
Shas leader Eli Yishai briefed the council on his latest talks with the
prime minister on the negotiations with the Palestinians, and said that he
had been promised "there would be no freeze to construction in Jerusalem,
Ma'aleh Adumim and Beitar [Ilit]."