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« on: March 27, 2007, 10:48:56 PM »

Will Talks Leave Jerusalem in Pieces?
By Chris Mitchell
CBN News - Jerusalem Bureau
March 27, 2007

CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit marked her fourth Middle East trip in four months and her first since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to a new unity government with Hamas, labeled a terrorist group by Rice's U.S. State Department.

"The Quartet's position is clear: A path of cooperation with the new Palestinian government exists but it is blocked by Hamas's continued willingness to commit itself by word and deed to the Quartet's principles: renouncing violence, recognizing Israel's right to exist and adhering to previous obligations and agreements," said Rice.

Despite the dominant presence of Hamas in the new Palestinian government, Rice promised to meet with Abbas and continue her work towards a Palestinian state.

But while Rice met with Palestinian officials in the Middle East, on Capitol Hill 79 U.S. senators sent Rice a letter and asked that she "maintain current U.S. policy with respect to the Palestinian government until it recognizes Israel's right to exist."

Rice also said new thinking and new action from Israel's neighbors would be necessary to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As an example, she specifically mentioned the Saudi Peace Initiative from 2002, a plan that calls for a return to the 1967 borders.

"If you say the 1967 lines are supposed to be the ultimate boundaries, you're speaking about re-dividing Jerusalem," said Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and author of the book "The Fight for Jerusalem."

Gold warns the Saudi Initiative could lead to a division of Jerusalem.

"If Israel were to withdraw from Jerusalem, the effects would be huge. They would be regional. For we understand that many in the radical Islamic community see that their taking back Jerusalem is the first step for a new global jihad," said Gold.

A senior Hamas official declared that very policy earlier this week. He declared that 'Islam will enter every house and will spread over the entire world.'

"I hope that President Bush does not plan to divide Jerusalem. It would be a historical error," said Gold. "It would be a strategic blunder. It would not only hurt the State of Israel and damage the Jewish people, but it would also lead to an outburst of terrorism that most people cannot even imagine."

Will Talks Leave Jerusalem in Pieces?
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