Dividing Jerusalem will topple Olmert, caution gov't partners

Tuesday, October 16, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

The leaders of the right-of-center Israeli government coalition partners Shas and Israel Beiteinu warned visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday that they will quit the government and help bring about its downfall if the division of Jerusalem is offered by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at an upcoming peace summit in Annapolis, Maryland.

A day earlier, Rice insisted that the time had come for a Palestinian state on Israel's ancient heartland with eastern half of Jerusalem as its capital. Palestinian sources said the American promised to put heavy pressure on Israel to fully meet their demands over the holy city.

But Israel Beiteinu chief and Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Rice that his party views the division of Jerusalem as a red line, and if Olmert offers it in Annapolis, the party will leave the coalition, reported The Jerusalem Post.

Shas leader and Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai told Rice the same thing, making it clear that if Olmert agrees to divide Jerusalem between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, he will be left with a minority government that few expect would last very long.

Lieberman also told Rice that the failure of the international community to pressure Egypt to stem the flow of arms into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip means that broad Israeli military action there is inevitable, and may come during the summit.

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