Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s remarks that Israel has a right “negotiate anything on behalf of Israel” drew a quick reply from a leading American Jewish group opposed to Israeli concessions on Jerusalem.
Olmert was responding to a question from a reporter about American Jewish groups opposed to having Jerusalem’s status on the negotiating table. “Does any Jewish organization have a right to confer upon Israel what it negotiates or not?” Olmert answered. “This question was decided a long time ago. The government of Israel has a sovereign right to negotiate anything on behalf of Israel.”
The Orthodox Union, which has been outspoken in opposing any division of Jerusalem, responded with a statement less than two hours later.
“In vigorously advocating for the unity of Jerusalem in the weeks leading up to the Annapolis conference, the Orthodox Union has not sought to ‘confer upon’ or dictate to the Israeli government what it has the legal right to negotiate about with Palestinian or other Arab leaders,” the O.U.’s president, Steve Savitsky, and the director of its Institute for Public Affairs, Nathan Diament, said in the statement.
The statement also threw a jab at the Israeli prime minister, quoting his own speech a year ago in which he told O.U. leaders he “always believed in listening to the Jews who live outside the State.”
Nathan Guttman staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Ha’aretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Contact Nathan at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @nathanguttman