Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Barak Says East Jerusalem Could Become Capital Of Palestinian State

Jerusalem, Israel -- Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that East Jerusalem could be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

"Our basic position is that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, but that we can find a formula under which certain neighborhoods, heavily populated Arab neighborhoods, could become, in a peace agreement, part of the Palestinian capital and it will of course include all of the neighboring [Arab] villages around Jerusalem," Barak said.

He also stated that Israel would never accept the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

"No Israeli prime minister, from the right or left...will agree to accept even a single Palestinian refugee into Israel based on the right of return," he said. "That was my position when I was prime minister, it was the position of every other prime minister, from Rabin to Peres, from Shamir to Begin, and it will be the position of Israel in the future."

Barak suggested that Israel would ideally want the security barrier to mark the borders of a future Palestinian state."It's clearly our recommendation, so to speak, for how it should go. But once we sit down and agree on a border, if it takes a different delineation in a certain sector, we will rebuild the fence in a way that will enable us to have a border, a secure defended border, within which we will have this solid Jewish majority," he said.

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