Alternate Israeli Prime Minister and Defence Minister Benny Gantz has claimed that there will be space in Jerusalem for a Palestinian capital.
In an interview with the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday, Gantz said: "Jerusalem must stay united, but it will have place for a Palestinian capital."
He stated that Jerusalem is "a vast city, filled with sites that are holy to all of us," claiming that "We want the Palestinians to have a suitable geographical extension that enables them to lead a comfortable life without obstacle."
Jerusalem, which contains religious sites of all three Abrahamic faiths and is a key Palestinian city both in terms of population and culture, has long been a point of dispute between Israel and Palestinians who aim for the east of the city to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Gantz did, however, refuse the notion of Israel retreating back to its 1967 borders, as demanded by international agreements. He also hinted at the possibility of the annexation of areas of the West Bank strategic to Israel, which was put on hold earlier this year. "Israel needs the Jordan Valley for its defence needs," Gantz stressed.
Previously having an international status as neither belonging entirely to Israelis or Palestinians, the Israeli government declared the city to be the capital of Israel in 2017.The United States backed its ally in the decision, declaring that it would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, with some other countries following suit.
Under the US' so-called 'deal of the century', the Palestinian village of Abu Dis or the West Bank town of Al-Eizariya on the outskirts of the city have been proposed as a Palestinian capital instead of East Jerusalem. In February, however, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the proposal.
Gantz's statement that that Jerusalem could have space for a Palestinian capital is seen as a last resort to calm the PA and Palestinian factions after the refusal of the other locations, with Trump also proposing the same at the beginning of the year.
The official is also seeking to garner Arab voter support ahead of an expected fourth Israeli election in the space of two years.