JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel’s interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel must give up virtually all the occupied West Bank including east Jerusalem, insisting in an interview published on Monday this was key to achieving peace with the Palestinians.
“We have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, the meaning of which is that in practice we will withdraw from almost all the territories, if not all the territories,” said Olmert, who heads an interim government following his September 21 resignation,
“We will leave a percentage of these territories in our hands, but will have to give the Palestinians a similar percentage, because without that there will be no peace,” he told the mass-circulation Yediot Aharonot newspaper.
“Including in Jerusalem,” he said in reference to the predominently Arab eastern part of the Holy City which Israel occupied and annexed after the 1967 war and which Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.
The statement is expected to stir deep controversy. Israel officially considers Jerusalem its “eternal, undivided” capital, a view Olmert — a former mayor of the city — said he shared for many years.