The Earth belongs to HaShem
"The Earth belongs to HaShem and the Fullness Thereof."

By John of AllFaith 10/8/2007

Is Israel Ready To Force Moshiach's Hand?

Could be!

We all understand that the modern day nation of Israel is not the Kingdom of HaShem on earth. Israel is a secular democracy not a theocratic kingdom.

Certain devout Jews have long pointed out that only Moshiach (Messiah) can restore the Kingdom to Israel and he has yet to reveal himself.

Certain Antisemites have used this lack of Jewish support for Israel to argue against the divine mandate for Israel's existence, generally without understanding WHY these Jews don't support the present Israeli government.

Their sincere dissent changes nothing however because the prophecies are abundantly clear that in the End of Days HaShem will bring His Chosen People back to Zion:

Isaiah 18:

1 Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia:
2 That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, saying, Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled!
3 All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye.
4 For so HaShem said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.
5 For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches.
6 They shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth: and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them.
7 In that time shall the present be brought unto HaShem Tsaba [of hosts] of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of HaShem Tsaba [of hosts], the mount Zion.

"In that time" the Jews indeed returned to Zion in 1948 and presented the Holy City as a present to HaShem in 1967! The Jews were scattered among the nations, they were peeled by persecutions, pogroms and the Holocaust. They were a wandering nation meted out and trodden under foot by the Gentile world.

A nation meted out and trodden under foot... Understand that the Jewish people THEMSELVES are Israel even as the followers of Prophet Y'shua ARE his Church. The Holy Land is known as Eretz Israel, the rightful homeland of People Israel. This has been the case ever since HaShem gave this land to Abraham, Sara and their descendants thousands of years ago.


Since 70 CE Israel has been a nation 'meted out and trodden under foot by the Gentiles' (really since 606 BCE). This situation lasted from 70 CE to 1948! Since 1948 Jews have been making aliyah, they have been returning to their eternal home exactly as the prophets foretold.

As Prophet Y'shua foretold:

Luke 21:

20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

This portion of the prophecy clearly isn't talking about the Roman invasion of 70 CE because at that time the "Times of the Gentiles" were only beginning! In order for this prophecy to be fulfilled the Jews must have returned to Zion because the Master already told us they would be driven out (see the next quote)!

Those who claim these prophecies could refer to any point in history are therefore shown to be incorrect! These prophecies require a time when Israel is an independent nation in control of Jerusalem and they were not such until 1967!

Just before predicting this, Prophet Y'shua accurately foretold the end of Jewish Eretz Israel and the Holy city in this same prophecy, forty years before it happened!

Luke 21:

5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he [Master Y'shua] said,
6 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
7 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?
8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.

Thus did the Master's most famous prophecy begin.

So then, today's news report that the government of Israel is considering giving portions of the Holy City to the Palestinians is problematic on many levels.

As cited above, "...Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled..." But...

The Jews have already returned to Zion! The 'trodding down' of the Holy City by the Gentiles has already ceased! Now the Israeli government is considering giving a portion of the Holy City back to the Gentiles? How can this be?

Isaiah 63

15 Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory: where is thy zeal and thy strength, the sounding of thy bowels and of thy mercies toward me? are they restrained?
16 Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting.
17 O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.
18 The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary.
19 We are thine: thou never barest rule over them; they were not called by thy name.

Israel has been restored to their land but the political entity known as the government of Israel is not a Jewish state! It is a secular democracy that depends on the vote, will and wisdom of the people. MANY voters in Eretz Israel seek the Will of HaShem but as a nation, Israel has yet to embrace it's coming King!

Micah 7

1 Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grapegleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat: my soul desired the firstripe fruit.
2 The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.
3 That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up.
4 The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity.
5 Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom.
6 For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house.
7 Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.
8 Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me.
9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.
10 Then she that is mine enemy shall see it, and shame shall cover her which said unto me, Where is the LORD thy God? mine eyes shall behold her: now shall she be trodden down as the mire of the streets.
11 In the day that thy walls are to be built, in that day shall the decree be far removed.
12 In that day also he shall come even to thee from Assyria, and from the fortified cities, and from the fortress even to the river, and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain.
13 Notwithstanding the land shall be desolate because of them that dwell therein, for the fruit of their doings.
14 Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.
15 According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I show unto him marvellous things.
16 The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might: they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf.
17 They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth: they shall be afraid of the LORD our God, and shall fear because of thee.
18 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.
19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
20 Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.

This is the condition of the world and of Eretz Israel today!

World leaders, including many in Israel, have no honor today. They disrespect the people and the traditional ways and they scoff at the very idea of submission to God's Will! Our politicians deal in graft, greed and bribery and the fear of God is nowhere to been seen! About this the rising Islamic Ummah is completely correct.

The enemies of Israel on every front dance for joy to behold Israel's weaknesses, their poor choices and their foolish surrender of land, even moreso if Israel actually relinquishes part of Holy Jerusalem to its sworn enemies!

But such mistakes are bound to happen!


Because, "...In that day also he shall come even to thee [Israel] from Assyria..."

Who is the Assyrian?

He is none other than the Antichrist, the Dijal, the one Prophet Daniel refers to as "the Little Horn":

Daniel 7

1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters....
7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast
[i.e. the Roman Empire, compare Dan. 2:40 to see that these four beasts are four nations: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and the Roman Empire], dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns [the principle thrones of Europa].
8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn
[the Rex Mundi, Antichrist or Dijal], before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
[which is to say, until HaShem sat in judgment and determined the time had come for the revelation of His Moshiach]
10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
11 I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast
[the Little Horn or Rex Mundi] was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.
12 As concerning the rest of the beasts,
[or world leaders who will act as governors under the Beast as well as China, Russia, the Islamic Ummah and others who oppose the Rex Mundi in the war of Armageddon] they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.
13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man
[the Moshiach] came with the clouds of heaven [ie the armies of Israel and its supporters], and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him [which is to say, the Gentiles repent and accept Israel and its Moshiach as their king as described at Zech 8:23].
14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
15 I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
16 I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.
17 These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth
[ie the four kingdoms mentioned above, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and the Roman Empire].
18 But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom
[note that it is the "saints of the Most High" who initially take back Eretz Israel from the Gentile powers, not the Moshiach himself! This is the rise of the secular Zionist state!], and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
19 Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast
[ie Rome], which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;
20 And of the ten horns that were in his head
[ie the EU], and of the other [ie the "Little Horn"] which came up, and before whom three fell [ie there will be some resistance within the EU to the rise of the global king but it will be quenched]; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things [compare Paul's description at II Thess 2:4: Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.] , whose look was more stout than his fellows.
21 I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them
[compare Prophet Y'shua's warning at Matt. 9];
22 Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
[note again that according to Prophet Y'shua what will bring in the Moshiach will the threatened destruction of the Jewish people, Matt. 24:21,22]
23 Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth
[ie Rome], which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise
[ie the nations of Europa]: and another shall rise after them [the Rex Mundi]; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High
[i.e. the Jews and those who stand with them], and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. [this three and a half times or three and half years references the first half of his seven year reign and is referenced by Prophets Daniel, John and others 1260 days: Rev. 12:6 for instance].
26 But the judgment shall sit
[ie HaShem shall determine], and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.
27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High
[i.e. to the Jews: to Israel and its Moshiach], whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
28 Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.

We see then that Zion will be 'trodden under foot" until the end of days, that it will then be imperfectly restored by not the Moshiach but by the "saints of HaShem," that difficult days will come, that the Little Horn (the Antichrist, Dijal or Rex Mundi) will arise, that he will wage war against People Israel wherever they are earth, that faced with destruction the Jews will repent and seek HaShem's protection,and that THEN HaShem will send forth the Moshiach to save them.

Isaiah 66

6 A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of HaShem that rendereth recompense to his enemies.
7 Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child.
8 Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.
9 Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith HaShem: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.
10 Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her:
11 That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.
12 For thus saith HaShem, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.
13 As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

That this global war against Israel is being plotted even now by certain heads of state is obvious. For instance:

Ahmadinejad calls Israel 'insult to human dignity' on Al-Quds Day

By The Associated Press, 05/10/2007

Millions of Iranians attended nationwide rallies Friday in support of the Palestinians, while the country's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel's continued existence was an insult to human dignity.

"The creation, continued existence and unlimited (Western) support for this regime is an insult to human dignity," Ahmadinejad said. "The occupation of Palestine is not limited to one land. The Zionist issue is now a global issue."

This is precisely the scenario foretold by the various prophets. Despite such clear intentions, the secular government of Israel is discussing plans to surrender not only Judea and Samaria but even sections of Jerusalem to its enemies! Unreal. Just to avoid misunderstanding here, I consider President Ahmadinejad to be a very real and present danger to Israel and potentially the West, however he is not and can not be the Antichrist. He is however a good example of the rising tide of Antisemitism.

Now back to the original point of this piece: Is Israel ready to force Moshiach's hand?

According to most rabbis:

  • if Israel repented a single day;
  • if Israel observed a single Shabbat properly;
  • if Israel observed two Shabbats in a row properly;
  • in a generation that is totally innocent or totally guilty;
  • in a generation that loses hope;
  • in a generation where children are totally disrespectful towards their parents and elders;

According to Prophet Y'shua, Jerusalem will be encompassed by enemies and the situation will be so bleak that: ...except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

Of this day Paul assures us:

Romans 11

26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

Note that verse 26 above is not referring to all Israel being "saved" in the Christian context of accepting Jesus as savior and Lord. The word used here is Sozo and means:

    "to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction" (Strongs #4982)

Paul is here explaining that the Jews remain under HaShem's care and protection even as He temporarily turns His attention to the grafted-on Gentiles. In time the Church will be removed from the "tree of Israel" (Rom 11, Rev 3: 15-20 and Zec. 8:23).

Again Prophet Isaiah confirms:

Isaiah 14

1 For HaShem will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.

In our day, for the first time since 70 CE, the Jewish people have been established in their own land.

And again Prophet Zechariah tells us:

Zechariah 8

23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

If the government of Israel surrenders part of the Holy City to the enemies of Israel it may well set into motion certain possibilities that MAY hasten the coming of the Antichrist and hence the Moshiach. Time will tell.

We know from the prophets that once the Jews return to Zion, Jerusalem will never again fall to its enemies. It is therefore difficult to believe that HaShem will allow the Holy City to be divided in this way, however while we have a clear vision of the overall unfolding picture, certain of the details are yet to be understood:

Isaiah 52

1 Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion [O Zion: this is a prophecy about the Jewish people and their holy and unified city, this will be important to remember as we read on]; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean [once the Kingdom is established Jerusalem will be wholly Jewish city].
2 Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion
[the reference is to the diaspora during which time the Jews were forced to submit to the will of the nations].
3 For thus saith HaShem, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money
[Israel turned away from HaShem and hence for a time lost his blessings. Now the Jewish people will repent and return to HaShem 'in a single day' and hence be blessed].
4 For thus saith HaShem, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause
[the Assyrian is the eternal enemy of Israel and is better known as Lucifer. As ruler of this world Lucifer inspires the Gentiles to attack Israel time and time again. The Rex Mundi will be controlled by the Assyrian during his rise to power and will be possessed by him after his assassination and resurrection from the dead. I discuss the Assyrian in some detail elsewhere.]
5 Now therefore, what have I here, saith HaShem, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith HaShem; and my name continually every day is blasphemed.
6 Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I
[Prophet John speaks of the Revelation of HaShem's name as the Moshiach comes to destroy the Beast (Rev. 19:12)].
7 How beautiful upon the mountains
[amidst the nations] are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! [this is a reference to the coming Moshiach, not to Jesus of Nazareth as commonly believed by most Christians. Jesus did not bring salvation to Israel, after him there was not only no peace, there was unprecedented violence, the destruction of the Temple and the onset of the two thousand year Diaspora, further, he did not establish the Kingdom, which is the principle responsibility of the Moshiach. For more on this see my study Who is the Suffering Servant?]
8 Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when HaShem shall bring again Zion
[this occurred in 1948/1967].
9 Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for HaShem hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.
10 HaShem hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God [this will occur when the Moshiach comes and defeats the Rex Mundi and his New Work Order].
11 Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of HaShem [this references the coming repentance of Israel and its full embrace of HaShem. This repentance does not signify the conversion of world Jewry to Christianity as is commonly taught by some Christian teachers. The New Testament is quite clear that Israel is eternally the People of HaShem but that the Church of the End Times will become utterly hypocritical and lukewarm only to be rejected by HaShem and even our Master Y'shua and be cut off from the tree of Israel and HaShem's coming Kingdom, Rev. 3:15-20 and Romans chapter 11. I discuss this elsewhere in some depth.]
12 For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for HaShem will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rear guard
[or "rereward," compare Ex 14:19].
13 Behold, my servant
[ie the Jewish people] shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high
[HaShem has blessed His people and they have always been influential in human events]
14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: [it has long been taught that this is a reference to Prophet Y'shua however in context it is People Israel being referenced here not Prophet Y'shua, again for more on this see my study Who is the Suffering Servant? study]
15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.

Psalm 122

1 A Song of degrees of David. I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of HaShem.
2 Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.
3 Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together:
4 Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of HaShem.
5 For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.
7 Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.
8 For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee.
9 Because of the house of HaShem our God I will seek thy good.

Israel signals shift on Jerusalem split

By KARIN LAUB, Associated Press Writer 33 minutes ago

Two senior Israeli politicians, including the prime minister's closest ally, talked openly Monday about dividing Jerusalem, signaling a possible shift in Israeli opinion about one of the Mideast's most contentious issues.

The dispute over Jerusalem has derailed negotiations in the past, and the latest comments come at a time when Israeli and Palestinian teams are trying to agree on principles guiding future peace talks.

The ideas raised by Israeli Vice Premier Haim Ramon still fall far short of Palestinian demands to establish their capital in all of the city's eastern sector, annexed by Israel after the 1967 Mideast War.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, meanwhile, told his parliament he will not be deterred from seeking a peace deal with the Palestinians. He said Israel has missed opportunities in the past, and warned that continued failure would mean a "demographic struggle steeped in blood and tears."

Olmert was unusually impassioned but short on specifics. He made no mention of Jerusalem.

Later Monday, Israeli and Palestinian teams met for the first time to start drafting a joint declaration of principles that would guide negotiators if peace talks were to resume after a seven-year freeze.

The document, which is to address the key disputes borders, Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, Palestinian refugees will be the centerpiece of a U.S.-hosted Mideast conference in November.

Olmert's speech appeared to be a careful balancing act sending an encouraging message to the Palestinians, while not giving his hardline critics at home too much ammunition by going into detail.

His central theme was a pledge not to miss an opportunity to reach a long-elusive peace deal, even if it requires costly concessions. Olmert said Israelis will have to led go of some of the beliefs that "fed the national ethos for many years," a reference to giving up West Bank land.

Olmert praised Mahmoud Abbas, whom he has met six times since the spring, as a trustworthy partner, but at the same time portrayed the Palestinian president, known as Abu Mazen, as weak. "I know that the gap between the honest and fair intentions of Abu Mazen and (Palestinian Prime Minister) Salam Fayyad, and their ability to translate that into reality is troublesome and arouses concerns," Olmert said.

Olmert was heckled occasionally, but interruptions were mild for Israel's freewheeling parliament. "Is Jerusalem a dream?" legislator Reuven Rivlin shouted when Olmert, a former Jerusalem mayor, told parliament Israelis would have to forego some of their national dreams and aspirations.

It's not clear whether Olmert could muster the political support to push through a peace deal. His popularity dropped sharply after last summer's war against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon, and he is the target of several corruption probes.

On Tuesday, he is to be questioned by police about allegations that he fraudulently bought a Jerusalem home well below market value, while serving as a Cabinet minister. Indictment would force him to step down.

Palestinian officials largely stayed out of Israel's internal debates Monday, including over Jerusalem.

Abbas adviser Nabil Abu Rdeneh took issue, though, with Olmert's reference to Abbas' purported weakness. "We hope that these statements are not meant to place obstacles in the way of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that started today," Abu Rdeneh said.

Earlier Monday, Olmert's closest ally, Ramon, raised the idea of a possible division of Jerusalem in interviews on the two main radio stations.

Later in the day, Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the hardline Israel Beitenu Party, a member of Olmert's coalition, told a news conference he is ready to hand over some Arab neighborhoods of the city.

The proposals of Ramon and Lieberman would fall far short of a Palestinian demand to set up their future capital in all of the Israeli-annexed eastern sector of the city. The eastern part contains the Old City, home to major Jewish, Muslim and Christian shrines.

Still, the public debate was remarkable. Ramon suggested that there's been a shift in the Israeli consensus, noting that the three main parties in Olmert's coalition all favor a division, and disagree only about where the line should be drawn.

Israeli leaders have proposed possible solutions for the city in the past. Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak was harshly criticized for raising the idea of division in failed 2000 peace talks.

Ramon said that under his plan, Israel would not hand over the Old City and neighboring areas known as the "holy basin" but he spoke of a special arrangement in the Old City. He did not elaborate, but the term would suggest less than full Israeli sovereignty there. Home Page
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