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    Entries in jerusalem (5)


    The Palestinian Lie


    Israel must have defensible borders


    The truth about Jerusalem


    Israel rejects plan to divide Jerusalem

    JERUSALEM — Israel's foreign ministry said today that a Swedish-led push for the European Union to call for the division of Jerusalem and the recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state would trip up Europe's own efforts to play a role in Middle East peacemaking.

    "We would like to see the Europeans more involved and playing a role," but it will be more difficult for them to do so if they press ahead, says Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. "The Swedish initiative does not contribute to promoting the peace process, and all it can do is to marginalize the European role."

    "It will only convince the Palestinians that they can remain the trenches," he adds.

    Israeli diplomats have been working overtime across Europe to stop the document from being adopted when European foreign ministers meet Dec. 7 to set a Middle East policy statement.

    Greater European role
    Several individual European countries have taken a more active role in the peace process in recent weeks. France's Nicolas Sarkozy has been facilitating Israeli-Syrian communication, and German mediators are playing a role in negotiations over a prisoner deal, in which Israel would win the release of its captive soldier, Sgt. Gilad Shalit, who has been held for more than three years by Hamas, in exchange for up to 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

    But European policy as a whole has been more of a concern, Israeli officials say. Sweden is at the forefront because it holds the rotating EU presidency through January. Relations between Jerusalem and Stockholm have been chilly since a Swedish tabloid ran a report in August suggesting that the IDF [the Israel Defense Forces] harvested organs from Palestinians held in Israeli custody. Israeli officials asked that the Swedish government officially publicly criticize the sensationalist report, but it declined to do so.

    More recently, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt canceled a planned trip to Israel, Israel's foreign ministry announced over the weekend, apparently due to reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might refuse to meet with him.

    Israel: Swedish draft one-sided
    Quotes from the draft under Sweden's authorship have been sourced by the Israeli press, but no official copy is being provided because it is an internal document, an official at the Swedish embassy in Tel Aviv told the Monitor.

    "We see no reason to comment on an internal draft document. And if there is a comment to be made, it will be made on behalf of the 27 member states and not just Sweden," says Annika Ben David, counsellor at the Swedish Embassy to Israel.

    Israel's problem with the draft is that it is one-sided, a senior Israeli official says.

    "If Europe is thinking of going public on what is final status, why only support one side of the issue?" The official continues, "If you say in your position paper that Israel will have to compromise on Jerusalem, why not come out publicly and say what the Palestinians will have to compromise on? Why not say that Palestinian refugees will have to go back to the state of Palestine, not Israel?"

    EU official: Support for Palestinians
    One European official in Tel Aviv, speaking on background, says that the EU position on Jerusalem does not represent a radical change, but is rather an attempt to show the Palestinians that they have international support for their claim to East Jerusalem as their future capital. In so doing, they hoped to draw Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas back to the negotiating table, despite the fact that the settlement freeze that Netanyahu announced last week did not include East Jerusalem - a prerequisite to peace talks that Mr. Abbas has insisted on.

    "This might be a way to encourage the Palestinians to enter the negotiating process," said the European official. "But I don't think Europe is interested in the recognition of a Palestinian state now, ahead of negotiations. It's more saying, if and when it comes to it, we will recognized East Jerusalem as a capital of a Palestinian state."



    Israel, White House commend IAEA Iran censure 

    (APA)Israel has praised the 25-3 vote of the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors today to issue its first resolution censuring Iran in more than three years.

    "Israel commends the resolution today by the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding Iran," Israeli embassy spokesman Jonathan Peled said in a statement.

    "The importance of the resolution is in its determination that Iran is continuing to defy the resolutions of both the Security Council and the IAEA Board of Governors, as well as its expression of concern over the fact that Iran is building its enrichment facility in Qom in secret," Peled continued. "The demand to immediately halt the construction of this facility is of extreme importance."

    The resolution notes "with serious concern that Iran has constructed an enrichment facility at Qom in breach of its obligation to suspend all enrichment related activities." 

    It also notably suggests that Iran's failure to declare the existence of the Qom enrichment facility until September, several years after it began construction on the facility, "reduces the level of confidence in the absence of other nuclear facilities and gives rise to questions about whether there are any other nuclear facilities under construction in Iran which have not been declared to the Agency."

    Only three nations voted against the resolution  -- Cuba, Venezuela and Malaysia -- while several abstained, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, South Africa and Brazil, where Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveled this week. Twenty-five nations including all western ones voted for the resolution, which also won key support from Russia and China.

    The Washington Post reported yesterday that two top officials from Obama's National Security Council secretly traveled to China last month to urge Chinese support for such an Iran resolution.

    Today's vote is a vindication of a White House that has faced skepticism about whether its more conciliatory approach of trying to reengage with the world is securing concrete results.

    The resolution is "very positive in that Iran is isolating itself, and others are expressing lost patience," says the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace George Perkovich. "The Revolutionary Guards can consolidate power by internal repression and external defiance, but ultimately the contradictions grow. As Obama appears more reasonable to others, a change in Iran's governance seems less alarming, i.e. for Russians, Chinese." 

    White House spokesman Robert Gibbs hailed the IAEA resolution, noting the broad international support it won in today's vote. "Today's overwhelming vote at the IAEA's Board of Governors demonstrates the resolve and unity of the international community with regard to Iran's nuclear program," he said in a statement. "Indeed, the fact that 25 countries from all parts of the world cast their votes in favor shows the urgent need for Iran to address the growing international deficit of confidence in its intentions." 

    Gibbs also said the resolution out of Vienna is a signal that time is running out for Iran to choose a path of international cooperation, but that the U.S. still hopes Iran will choose that course.

    "The United States has recognized Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy and remains willing to engage Iran to work toward a diplomatic solution to the concerns about its nuclear program, if - and only if - Iran chooses such a course," Gibbs continued. "Our patience and that of the international community is limited, and time is running out. If Iran refuses to meet its obligations, then it will be responsible for its own growing isolation and the consequences."

    IAEA Resolution Against Iranian Nuclear Position