Knesset majority against division of Jerusalem

Sunday, October 21, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

Over half of the Israeli Knesset has signed a petition demanding that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert not offer to relinquish control of any parts of Jerusalem during an upcoming US-hosted peace summit with the Palestinians, reported Israel National News.

Those who attached their signatures to the document include 30 members of Olmert's ruling coalition, 13 from his own Kadima Party. Four of the signatories are cabinet ministers.

Olmert has come under intense criticism for statements he and Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon have made suggesting they will agree to surrender the Arab-dominated neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City, to the Palestinians when the two sides meet in Annapolis, Maryland under the auspices of the Bush Administration later this year.

Olmert insisted last month that he did not need Knesset approval for any deal he strikes with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, despite the fact that Israel's Basic Law requires a Knesset majority to alter the status of Jerusalem as the "eternal, undivided capital of Israel."

Shas Party leader Eli Yishai told Ha'aretz on Thursday that if the division of Jerusalem is even mentioned in Annapolis, he will immediately pull his ultra-Orthodox, right-leaning faction out of the ruling coalition.

If fellow right-winger Avigdor Lieberman follows suit and withdraws his Israel Beiteinu party from the government, Olmert would be left with a minority coalition, seriously decreasing his ability to remain in power.

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