JERUSALEM — Israel’s leader on Sunday dismissed a call from a key government partner to share the holy city of Jerusalem with the Palestinians, a reminder of the obstacles facing already troubled peacemaking efforts.
Conflicting claims to east Jerusalem lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The dispute over the area, home to sensitive Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, has derailed past peace talks and spilled into violence. Palestinians claim the sector as the capital of their future state.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reaffirmation of his intention to hold on to east Jerusalem drew criticism from the Palestinians and was likely to increase friction with the Americans. The White House Mideast envoy is scheduled to arrive this week in another attempt to push peace efforts forward.
Netanyahu’s defense minister, Ehud Barak of the centrist Labor Party, called for sharing Jerusalem with the Palestinians. But a government official said Barak’s idea does not reflect the government’s view.
The Palestinians want to establish their future state in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war. Israel later annexed east Jerusalem in a move that is not recognized by the international community.
Israel’s internal diplomatic flare-up came just days after the U.S. dropped its effort to persuade Israel to reinstate a moratorium on new building states in the West Bank as a way of restarting peace talks.
Instead, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said indirect talks would resume, while insisting that the two sides must now deal with core issues. Those include the status of Jerusalem, as well as borders, settlements and refugees.
Palestinians blasted Israel’s rejection of their claim to east Jerusalem.