September 21, 1994
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Jerusalem's mayor on Wednesday urged the government to begin talks now with the PLO on the holy city's fate, warning further delay would only increase pressure for an Israeli compromise.
"If the Israeli government is really determined not to compromise on the Jerusalem issue, it is better that this be clear and known immediately," Mayor Ehud Olmert said.
Israel captured east Jerusalem, then mostly Arab, in the 1967 Middle East War, annexing it and declaring it part of its eternal capital, although few countries recognize Israel's claim.
Palestinians want the eastern sector as a capital for their would-be state, but the two sides have agreed to postpone talks on the status of the city, holy to three religions, until 1996.
But Olmert said that, as Israel makes more concessions in negotiations with its Arab neighbors, pressure will increase on it to be flexible on Jerusalem as well.
"After they try to give back the Golan Heights and all the rest of the territories, they will arrive at the Jerusalem issue and say, so, now you want to blow up the whole thing?" Olmert said on Israel television.
Israel has not yet agreed to give up the Golan, but there are hints a deal with Syria is imminent. It has agreed in principle to expand Palestinian autonomy, currently limited to the Gaza Strip and town of Jericho, through the West Bank but excepting Jerusalem.
By building new neighborhoods and redrawing municipal boundaries, Israel has achieved Arab-Jewish parity in the eastern sector, making a redivision of the city of 600,000 appear all but impossible.
The walled Old City that houses Judaism's holiest site, the Western Wall, is in east Jerusalem. The Old City is also home to Al-Aqsa, the third holiest Islamic site, and many Christian religious sites.