ZOA Condemns Israeli Vice-PM Ramon For Promoting Division Of Jerusalem
September 19, 2007

MK Rotem: This will end Olmert government

New York — The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned Israeli Vice-Premier Chaim Ramon for promoting the division of Jerusalem, meaning giving large parts of Jerusalem to Holocaust-denier Mahmoud Abbas’ terrorist-sponsoring Palestinian Authority (PA) regime. In a letter to Jerusalem Municipal Council Member Nir Barkat, Vice Prime Minister Chaim Ramon wrote, “The Arab neighborhoods [of Jerusalem] will be recognized as Palestinian. Passages between the Israeli neighborhoods will be open and secure — accordingly the same will be true for the Palestinian neighborhoods.” Regarding the Old City, Ramon wrote that the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter “will remain under Israeli rule forever,” indicating that sovereignty over the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, will be ceded to the PA. Sources in the Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office have confirmed that Ramon’s views represent the government’s position in negotiations with the PA, without obligating Olmert, indicating that Ramon’s views essentially represent the policy of the Olmert government (Israel National News , September 19, 2007).


Kadima ministers reported great unrest among Kadima members following Ramon’s letter and an unnamed source has said that “It seems to be another experimental balloon the prime minister is flying using Ramon. This will not pass quietly in the Kadima council’s political meeting with Olmert on Thursday. He does not have the status to change Kadima’s official platform” (Yediot Ahronot, September 19, 2007).

Jerusalem’s Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, to which Jews turn in prayer, but is of far lesser significance to Muslims than Mecca and Medina, which Muslims face while praying. Mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible but not in the Quran, Jerusalem held little interest for Arabs throughout history and even when Jordan controlled eastern Jerusalem (1948-67). Jordanian King Hussein excepted, no Arab leader visited the city in these years. Under Jordanian rule, eastern Jerusalem was a back-water. Islam has holy sites in Jerusalem, but Jerusalem is not a holy city in Islam. Neither the PLO Charter nor Fatah’s Constitution even mention Jerusalem. Former Israeli cabinet minister Natan Sharansky has stated publicly in the past that the Arab effort to claim Jerusalem as a holy Islamic city is simply aimed at depriving Israel and the Jewish people of its heart and soul.

Today, however, the Arab world speaks of liberating the city from Jews; Jerusalem Day parades attract throngs in Muslim capitals, including faraway Teheran; and the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Waqf explicitly deny history and Jewish religious attachment to the city and even the past existence of the biblical temples.

Reaction within the governing coalition to Ramon’s views and previously unconfirmed reports as to Olmert’s willingness to divide Jerusalem:

  • MK Ze’ev Elkin (Kadima): “These kinds of ideas are as far as east and west from the basic original viewpoint that Kadima was built upon by Arik Sharon, and I will do everything in my power, along with many other Kadima members, to stand guard and take care of the city’s future, according to Kadima’s real political platform, the one that was presented to the voter” ( Yediot Ahronot, September 19, 2007).

  • MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima): “Anyone who dares to propose that Israel be unable to wave Israel’s flag at the Western Wall — will never be able to say that he did not divide Jerusalem. [Ramon’s] plan is completely identical to Meretz’s platform which is based on the Geneva plan. I did not hear of any decision of Kadima to join Meretz” ( Yediot Ahronot, September 19, 2007).

  • MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu): “Minister Ramon’s plan will enhance his prestige in the Left, but will dissolve the government” ( Israel National News, September 19, 2007).

  • Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai (Shas): “I strongly oppose Minister Ramon’s initiative. Jerusalem is the city that has been bringing together the Jewish people for thousands of years, and is not a bargaining chip or piece of real estate. Jerusalem is the Jewish people’s right of existence and there is no one who is able to give up that right” (Yediot Ahronot, September 19, 2007); “Unequivocally, Shas will not sit in a government that creates a Palestinian state on the Green Line and within Jerusalem municipal territory” (Israel National News , September 19, 2007).

  • MK Tzvi Hendel (National Union): “There is no greater shame than the fact that a convicted criminal [Ramon], who lacks morals and who promoted the evacuation of Gush Katif — which lead to the current disasters — is now conducting, on behalf of Olmert, insane negotiations for the division of Jerusalem” (Israel National News , September 19, 2007).

  • MK Rafi Eitan (Pensioners Party): “The government does not have a majority (to support) Haim Ramon’s opinions on anything to do with Jerusalem … He does not have a majority in Kadima, not in Labor, not in Shas, and not in Yisrael Beitenu, and certainly not with Rafi Eitan” (Yediot Ahronot, September 19, 2007).

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA is appalled at both the policy of Chaim Ramon and the way he has chosen to release it ahead of negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas. At a time when Israel should be bringing maximum pressure to bear on Abbas’ PA to finally meet its signed commitments under the Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan to arrest terrorists, close the bomb factories and end the incitement to hatred and murder that permeates the PA-controlled media, mosques schools and youth camps, Chaim Ramon publicly promotes major, irreversible concessions to the PA on Jerusalem including sovereignty of the Temple Mount. Yet it is clear that the PA under Abbas has done next to nothing to merit any sort of concessions, let alone being handed on a platter the heart of Judaism even before negotiations have taken place.

“The Olmert government is simply flying from reality by adopting a policy of major concessions on Jerusalem to the PA. Such concessions are wrong in themselves because they tear out the Jewish people from the heart of Judaism, and would introduce PA forces into the Old City, re-dividing the city. Whatever safeguards and plans Ramon might have for free passage between the two sides will turn out to be an illusion as bloodshed and insecurity overtake the city. Now that Israel is seen to be offering major concessions to Abbas, other countries, which might have worked to pressure Abbas to implement the PA’s commitments, will simply feel free to hand over more funds and offer more diplomatic support to what is still in reality a terrorist-sponsoring regime committed to Israel’s eventual elimination.

“In these circumstances, we urge the Olmert government to disown Ramon’s statements, to indicate publicly and clearly that these proposed concessions are not the policy of the Israeli government and to affirm that no concessions of any kind will even be considered until and unless the PA fulfills its 14 year old commitments under Oslo and the Roadmap, which, incidentally, was the position of Kadima founder and former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Part of the necessary changes that must occur in the PA is the abrogating of the Fatah Constitution, with its denunciation of Israel as racist, its call for Israel’s elimination and the use of terrorism as an indispensable part of the strategy towards achieving that goal.”

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