Israeli Minister: 'We Won't Return to '67 Lines'

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Intelligence Affairs Minister Dan Meridor said Israel will never return to the pre-1967 armistice lines, not now or in the future.

"Final borders are open for discussion, but we will not return to the line of 1967, that's for sure," Meridor said in an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel magazine published on Tuesday.

While expressing optimism at the prospect of restarting talks with the Palestinians, Meridor said that bringing "religion" into the formula complicated the process.

"It has become more difficult over the years because of the introduction of religion into the conflict. Arab rulers hated us in the past, but they did it because of nationalistic ideas," he said.

"Since the [1979 Islamic] revolution in Teheran, we hear a different tune. This is very bad because people can compromise, but gods never compromise," he said.

Israel's claim to Jerusalem isn't based on religion, Meridor said.

"The previous pope [John Paul II] said Jerusalem is sacred to all religions, but (this city) was promised to one people. We have no religious claims on Jerusalem. We have a national one. Jerusalem is our capital," he said.

"The Old City with the Jewish Quarter and the Wailing [Western] Wall will never be part of an Arab state," Meridor said.

"All the major Israeli parties share this conviction. There could be a compromise on land in Judea and Samaria [referred to as the West Bank], but all Israeli governments have agreed on having a united Jerusalem," he said.

Regarding Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, Meridor pointed out that Abbas negotiated with the Olmert government for three years, when the situation there was the same as it is now.

"We haven't built any new settlements, so we are fulfilling the understanding [we'd reached with the previous U.S. administration]," he said, adding that now there are some "ongoing discussions about a compromise."

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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