JERUSALEM, (Reuters) – A senior Palestinian figure said yesterday that rising tension with Israel over settlement building in the Jerusalem area was a “time bomb” that was eroding trust between the two sides.
Ahmed Qurei, a former prime minister and negotiator, joined Tsipi Livni, a former Israeli foreign minister and now opposition leader in parliament, in calling on both sides to work harder to achieve a two-state solution.
“The Jerusalem situation, I think, is a time bomb if it continues in this way,” Qurei told a forum of mostly Israeli academics in Jerusalem, referring to the expansion of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and plans to demolish Palestinian homes to make way for more construction. “It has an impact on the Palestinian people … and on trust on both sides,” Qurei added.
Jerusalem is a core issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel has annexed East Jerusalem as part of its capital in a move not recognised internationally, and Palestinians want the area as capital of a future state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The conflict has erupted lately into weekly protests by Israelis and Palestinians, mostly in the predominantly Palestinian areas of Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, where Jewish settlers have been moving in.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, back from talks in Washington with President Barack Obama, said he might discuss Jerusalem but did not hint at any concessions.
“We have differences of views with the Palestinians. We want a united city. They have their own views. We can — this is one of the issues that will have to be negotiated,” Netanyahu said on Fox News Sunday.