July 21, 2009 -- A top conservative German politician is making headlines on Tuesday for his unusually sharp stance against Israel's settlement-building policies.
Ruprecht Polenz, who is chairman of the Bundestag's foreign policy committee and a member of Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union party, has warned Israel that it will be committing "political suicide" if it doesn't cease construction of settlements in the Palestinian territories.
Israel's goal of living within secure borders, he warned -- speaking as a "friend of Israel" -- will only be possible with a two-state solution. And that, he said, would only be conceivable if East Jerusalem could be used as the capital of a Palestinian state. With its continuing settlement construction efforts, Polenz argued, Israel is attempting to cut East Jerusalem off from the West Bank.
In doing so, he cautioned, Israel was overlooking the fact that neither the Palestinians nor the Arab states would accept a solution without East Jerusalem. In Islam, Jerusalem is the third most important holy city after Mecca and Medina.