Several days after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert informed US President George W. Bush that construction in east Jerusalem will continue, a senior US diplomat stated Tuesday that Israel must halt construction in east Jerusalem as well as in West Bank settlements.
The diplomat noted that the Road Map provisions explicitly demand that Israel freeze construction in these aforementioned areas.
The Roadmap stipulates,
* GOI immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001.
* Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).
Israel has consistently taken the position that it could build within the existing boundaries and and that the developments in Jerusalem were not “settlements”. Ted belman
According to the diplomat, the Road Map strictly prohibits construction in these areas, and some Palestinians see east Jerusalem as being part of the West Bank, whereas Israel designated them as part of Jerusalem. There may be differences of opinion between Israelis and Palestinians, but the Road Map is crystal clear on this matter, said the diplomat.
Referencing the Palestinian refugee problem, the US official noted that the US president is well aware of the fact that post 1948 Jewish refugees from Arab countries immigrated only to Israel and nowhere else. He added that many of these Jews-Iraqi Jews especially-lost a great deal of their property, but just as these Jewish refuges came to the Jewish homeland, there is an analogous situation with Palestinian refugees nowadays.
No change on Pollard
The US diplomat also spoke about Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, noting that the US has not changed its policy regarding the Israeli spy, as well as about possible peace talks with Syria.
He claimed that the US has never told Israel not to embark on any road that might lead to peace. With that, he added, it might be very difficult for Israel to conduct negotiation on two separate tracts simultaneously and it might be better to focus on negotiations with one entity at a time.
Reiterating US commitment to the Road Map agreements, the US official also referenced president Bush’s remarks name during his visit to Israel regarding negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
The president said that he is willing to invest his political capital in these Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and he came to Israel with the explicit aim of bolstering negotiations following the Annapolis peace conference, he said.