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Peace Talks: Israelis Signal Willingness to Divide Jerusalem

In the first round of peace talks yesterday, Middle East leaders pledged their cooperation and expressed hope that the talks would eventually yield a historical breakthrough.

A boy walks next to a section of Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank village of Aram outside Jerusalem, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

President Barack Obama opened the first round of direct peace talks with Middle East countries, hosting leaders from Jordan, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinians at the White House yesterday.  Each leader pledged their respective cooperation and expressed hope that the talks would eventually yield a breakthrough.

President Obama insists that now is the time for a lasting peace agreement, and hopes for one that includes a two-state solution.   New out today suggests that Israel is willing to make a sweeping concession -- the division of Jerusalem -- as part of a peace pact with Palestinians.  The New York Post reports:

Defense Minister Ehud Barak signaled that his government is ready to drop its demand that even after the creation of a Palestinian state, Jerusalem would "remain the undivided capital of Israel."

"West Jerusalem and 12 Jewish neighborhoods that are home to 200,000 [Israeli] residents will be ours," Barak told the newspaper Haaretz.

"The Arab neighborhoods in which close to a quarter million Palestinians live will be theirs," he added, referring to the eastern part of the city that was captured from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war.

Barak is a former Israeli prime minister who tried to reach a "final status" agreement with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the last days of Bill Clinton's administration. He blamed the talks' failure on Arafat's refusal to compromise on Jerusalem.

Stay tuned to TheBlaze for all the latest updates from the ongoing peace talks this week.

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