Jerusalem has room for a Palestinian capital, says Israel's Gantz

Jerusalem has room for a Palestinian capital, says Israel's Gantz
Jerusalem will remain Israel's 'undivided capital' but there will be a 'place for a Palestinian capital', Benny Gantz said.
2 min read
17 December, 2020
Both Israelis and Palestinians seek Jerusalem as their capital [Getty]
Jerusalem will have space for a Palestinian capital in the future, Israel's Alternate Prime Minister and Defence Minister Benny Gantz said this week.

Gantz made the remark while also giving assurances that Jerusalem would remain Israel's "undivided capital".

"Jerusalem must stay united, but it will have place for a Palestinian capital," Gantz told Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview published on Thursday.

"It's a vast city, filled with sites that are holy to all of us," he said. "We want the Palestinians to have a suitable geographical extension that enables them to lead a comfortable life without obstacle."

Gantz, who has served as Israel's alternate prime minister and defence minister since May, did not elaborate on how Jerusalem could be both an Israeli and Palestinian capital without being divided.

Previous resolutions, including the Trump administration's peace plan unveiled earlier this year, have proposed a Palestinian capital on the outskirts of Jerusalem rather than in the city proper.
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Such proposals have been rejected by Palestinians, who seek to resume control over east Jerusalem, which was occupied and illegally annexed by Israel after 1967.

Gantz heads the Blue and White party and entered government as part of a unity deal with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this year.

Israel will not withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, Gantz told Asharq Al-Awsat.

"Israel needs the Jordan Valley for its defence needs," Gantz said, referring to the strategic and fertile valley that makes up around 30 percent of the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli government has repeatedly stated intentions to occupy the Jordan Valley, a proposal endorsed by the Trump administration.

Israel will not annex all of the valley, Gantz said. Instead, the country will annex "strategic" points as part of negotiations with the Palestinian leadership, the defence minister claimed.

"As soon as we agree on security issues, the political solution will be much easier," he said.

The alternate prime minister's comments came as Israel comes closer to holding its fourth elections in just two years.

If lawmakers fail to reach a December 23 deadline for passing the 2020 state budget, the Knesset will automatically dissolve and the country will head to the polls again next year.

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