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Israelis who fought for Jerusalem split over city

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JERUSALEM, July 19 — As soldiers, Yoram Zamush and Ezra Orni fought together to help Israel capture East Jerusalem in 1967. Thirty-three years later, they are on opposite sides of the row over what should be done to the city.

Zamush, who topped Judaism's holiest site, the Western Wall, with an Israeli flag in 1967, wants the city—which is sacred to three religions—to be divided.

Orni, who planted an Israeli flag on the Moslem holy shrine Dome of the Rock, opposes handing the Palestinians control of East Jerusalem.

The two former soldiers debated on Wednesday on Israel Radio as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat entered the ninth day of a U.S.-backed Camp David summit where Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues.

"We cannot control them (the Palestinians) because we have very deep, justified and holy connections to this place," Zamush told Israel Radio on Wednesday.

"We cannot control people who also have connections and who also have rights and also have all the justification to expect to live in peace and tranquility," he added.

Israel captured the eastern half of the city from Jordan and annexed it in a move not recognised internationally, declaring Jerusalem its "united, eternal capital." Palestinians want Arab East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

"Yoram (Zamush) is a friend and a neighbour for decades and we fought together and I think that what he is saying is simply a tragedy for the Jewish nation," Orni told Israel Radio.

"I don't believe the Arabs. I don't think they want peace," he added.

Entering their ninth day of talks, Israeli officials have said that Barak and Arafat have reached understandings on the other major issues—borders, the fate of Palestinian refugees and Jewish settlers—and are now left fighting out Jerusalem.

The sides want to reach a framework for a final peace by a September 13 deadline.

Barak vowed on the eve of his departure to Camp David that he would not "divide Jerusalem," what has become the make-or-break issue in the peace talks.

As in most of the issues on the negotiating table, left and right-leaning Israelis are also divided on how much, if at all, Israel should concede to the Palestinians in Jerusalem.

"We have to show determination and absolutely not give up sovereignty or control in all of Jerusalem," Orni told Zamush.

"I definitely want to respect the rights of those who live in Jerusalem...without Israeli control," Zamush answered him.