Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday insisted that his government alone has the right to determine the fate of Jerusalem, a city that the Jewish people as a whole has for millennia longed for and prayed over.
"The government of Israel has a sovereign right to negotiate anything on behalf of Israel," Olmert emphatically told a press conference ahead of the US-hosted Middle East peace summit in Annapolis, Maryland. At any rate, asserted Olmert, Jerusalem's fate has "been determined long ago."
The prime minister was responding to a statement by American Jewish leaders earlier in the day declaring Jerusalem "a Jewish issue," and not merely an Israeli one.
The Orthodox Union issued another statement in response to Olmert's remarks to the press stressing that it and other American Jewish organizations were not trying to dictate moves to Israel, but rather were trying to remind the Israeli leader that all Jews have a share in the holy city and that its re-division would affect world Jewry.
Prior to traveling to Annapolis, Olmert and his top deputies repeatedly floated proposals and statements indicating that they would meet the Arabs' demand that the eastern half of Jerusalem revert to Muslim rule and become the capital of a Palestinian Arab state.