Olmert promises no more settlements, insists Jerusalem is different

Monday, March 17, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday that no more Jewish communities will be set up in Judea and Samaria, but insisted that the construction of Jewish housing in all parts of Jerusalem will continue.

Mr. Olmert explained to his guest that while limited construction is taking place in some long-established Jewish settlements, his government will not permit any new Jewish communities to be established on the parts of Israel's biblical heartland claimed for the creation of a Palestinian Arab state.

However, when talk of settlement activity turned to Jerusalem during a press conference following is meeting with Merkel, the prime minister was adamant that Israel will continue to build homes in Jewish neighborhoods on the side of Jerusalem the Palestinian Authority demands as its future capital.

Mr. Olmert insisted that as part of any final status peace agreement he reaches with the Palestinians certain parts of the eastern side of Jerusalem must remain under Israeli sovereignty. Breaking with the platform of his predecessor and mentor, Ariel Sharon, Olmert has made clear in recent statements that he is willing to surrender the bulk of eastern Jerusalem.

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