Meretz-Yahad Chairman Yossi Beilin could not help but smile over a recent Yedioth Ahronoth poll indicating that 49 percent of Israelis are willing to cede parts of Jerusalem as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
"I'm happy, but it's not the first time. It's the first time this has happened in connection to Jerusalem. I've never seen these numbers before in the past," he told Ynet Saturday night.
"Our real challenge is how we translate our successes in Oslo, Lebanon and Geneva to success at polling stations," he said.
"When I started the struggle to withdraw from Lebanon we only had 18 percent support and all the parties objected," he said. ""Only after Barak announced we would withdraw within one year, we were able to garner 72 percent support."
According to Beilin, this indicates that the public can be persuaded only once an issue is firmly placed on the political agenda.
"The public is open to hear and 49 percent (of the public) is not closed to our ideas," he said. "The problem is that it took Sharon nearly 40 years to accept the idea of a Palestinian state. We don't have another 40 years until he decides to divide Jerusalem."
‘Beilin will divide Jerusalem’
The Meretz-Yahad leader explains that "no doubt the Geneva Initiative created the legitimacy to divide eastern Jerusalem – with the Arab neighborhoods in the hands of the Palestinian Authority and the Jewish ones under Israel's control."
"This is a huge achievement for us, because without a division there will be no peace," Beilin added.
Addressing his party's new campaign slogan "Beilin will divide Jerusalem,” Beilin said: “The possibility this will be our slogan exists, but we haven’t taken a decision yet.”
He also informed Ynet of his party's positions and objectives for the upcoming election campaign, which includes emphasizing the peace process based on the Geneva Initiative, the rehabilitation of a welfare state, human rights, the separation of religion and state, and environmental issues.