Sharon Advisor Says PM Will Partition Jerusalem

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's senior campaign pollster Kalman Gayer has let the cat out of the bag: Sharon plans to divide Israel's capital, Jerusalem, should he win the elections.

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Ezra HaLevi, | updated: 08:11

Gayer made the statements speaking with Newsweek about the extent of the withdrawals Sharon is willing to make in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.

The relevant passage in the Newsweek article states as follows:
"In theory, Gayer says, Sharon would accept a Palestinian state in Gaza and 90 percent of the West Bank, and a compromise on Jerusalem, in exchange for peace. But the Israeli leader does not believe Palestinians will be able to deliver peace or make other compromises—like forgoing the right of refugees to return to their old homes in Israel—in his lifetime (Sharon is 78). In the meantime, Sharon wants to "lay the contours of an agreement with the Palestinians," according to Gayer, by creating a Palestinian state in half the West Bank and implementing confidence-building measures."

Sharon appeared on state-run television almost immediately, denying the accuracy of the claims. "The remarks attributed to Kalman Gayer absolutely contradict my positions and my views," Sharon said. "If those remarks were indeed made, they were made by Kalman Gayer alone and they are complete nonsense. United Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital forever." Sharon then reiterated his commitment to the Road Map plan.

The Road Map uses the term "East Jerusalem" as a separate entity from Jerusalem and calls for the opening of Palestinian Authority institutions in the area. There are currently close to 250,000 Jews living in areas of the capital considered East Jerusalem by the Road Map.

Prior to Sharon's announcement of the Disengagement Plan, the Gaza withdrawal plan was floated in the media by now-Finance Minister Ehud Olmert, and immediately denied by Sharon. Political commentators say such trial-balloons are a favorite method of Sharon's advisors, in order to gauge and diffuse public opposition to withdrawals.

MK Uzi Landau, who recently bowed out of the Likud leadership race and endorsed Binyamin Netanyahu, said, "We know from past experience that whenever the prime minister rushed to deny something – it is certainly true."

Labor MK Yitzchak Herzog said the whole story was just another manufactured story from the Kadima Party's public relations team, aimed at distracting the public from its lack of a social program.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) said, "It is painful to realize that the one who always accused others of planning to divide Jerusalem has been revealed in all his shame as intending to do so himself."

NRP Chairman Zevulun Orlev said that Sharon intends to once again lie to voters about his true intentions, like when he compared the retention of Netzarim to that of Tel Aviv prior to the previous elections. "Kalman Gayer says out loud what Sharon says in private," Orlev said. "It is now clear that in Sharon's mind, the 'fate of Jerusalem is like the fate of Netzarim.’"