JERUSALEM, Israel - Former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia praised Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni for her willingness to negotiate Jerusalem's future.
"I have great respect for the way Tzipi Livni works," he said, calling her "trustworthy" enough to put Jerusalem on the negotiating table.
"How will the Palestinians agree on a deal without Jerusalem?" Qureia, also known as Abu Ala, asked participants of a conference sponsored by the Council for Peace and Security.
"No one can imagine this happening," he said. "Jerusalem is the key to peace."
Qureia, who admitted a deal is not possible by year's end, said the process should continue anyway.
"The political situation on both sides is difficult," he said. "Israel is on the eve of elections, and the Palestinians have internal problems, which we hope will be resolved soon, with Egyptian help."
Qureia was referring to Egyptian-mediated efforts to reunite rival Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, in a unity government.
Peres Also Praised
Meanwhile, Qureia also praised Israeli President Shimon Peres' backing of the Saudi peace plan, expressed in his recent meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
The initiative, which calls for Israel to retreat to pre-1967 borders in exchange for recognition of its right to exist by Arab League member nations, was rejected by former Israeli governments.
Responding to Likud chairman and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu's remarks on Monday at the Knesset's opening session, Qureia said if elected, the PA will accept Netanyahu, though "There will be no peace without Jerusalem. Those who strive for peace must put Jerusalem on the table," he said.
In his speech, Netanyahu said, "we will not return to the 1967 borders" and the division of Jerusalem and return of so-called Palestinian refugees were both "nonnegotiable."
Sources: YNet news, The Jerusalem Post