'Israel won't return to 1967 line'

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Jerusalem, Aug. 25 (ANI): Israel is open to discussion on the final borders with Palestine, but the country will surely not return to the line of 1967, Israeli Intelligence Affairs Minister Dan Meridor has said.

"Surely, nobody expects Netanyahu to offer more than what Olmert (former PM) offered (to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas)...Final borders are open for discussion. But we will not return to the line of 1967 - that's for sure," The Jerusalem Post quoted him, as saying.

In an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Berlin, Meridor said he was optimistic about the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

"All in all, I am quite optimistic that things in the Middle East will develop in a positive way. There's something in the air."

However, Meridor pointed out that Abbas currently refuses to negotiate until Israel completely freezes settlement activity, despite the fact that he negotiated with Olmert for three years during the reign of President George W. Bush.

Drawing a red line, Meridor said: "The Old City with the Jewish Quarter and the Wailing Wall will never be part of an Arab state. There could be a compromise on land in Judea and Samaria. But all Israeli governments have agreed on having a united Jerusalem. This is our clear position, but we can negotiate about Jerusalem. There are no preconditions."

He noted that the introduction of religion into a conflict that was historically defined on nationalistic ideas has complicated matters in recent times.

"It has become more difficult over the years because of the introduction of religion into this conflict. Arab rulers hated us in the past, but they did it because of nationalistic ideas. Since the (1979) revolution in Teheran, we hear a different tune: The Iranians, Hizbullah and Hamas fight us in the name of religion. This is very bad because people can compromise, but gods never compromise," he said. (ANI)

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