ZOA Opposes Olmert Discussions To Divide Jerusalem
October 9, 2007

Olmert violates his and Sharon’s pledge

New York — The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is urging the Olmert government to drop discussion of plans which have been leaked to media indicating that it intends to divide Jerusalem, withdraw from most of Judea and Samaria and relinquish Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. In recent days, two Israeli government ministers, Vice Premier Haim Ramon and Strategic Threats Minister, Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Beitenu), have spoken publicly of major Israeli territorial concessions in Jerusalem to the Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA). Ramon has raised the idea of a possible division of Jerusalem in interviews on the two main radio stations while Lieberman told a news conference that he is ready to hand over some Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem’s Old City to the PA (New York Sun, October 9). These proposals contradict Kadima’s platform and the explicit statements of its founder, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, made in an April 2005 meeting with American Jewish leaders that “No serious steps have been taken by [Mahmoud Abbas], and we can’t get to the Road Map plan until the PA fully implements their obligations … Jerusalem will never be divided and Israel will not negotiate on Jerusalem. Since 1860 the Jewish population of Jerusalem was larger than the Christian and Muslim population combined.”

In addition, Israeli and PA negotiators have been meeting since yesterday to prepare a joint declaration to be issued at the upcoming US-sponsored summit in Annapolis. A senior Israeli official has said that the two sides are discussing “core issues” — a reference to major questions like future of Jerusalem, which all previous Israeli governments have declared to be Israel’s eternal and indivisible capital.

Prime Minister Olmert is denying reports that he and Abbas have agreed to transfer the Temple Mount’s holy sites to Jordanian control. Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset on Sunday, “Giving Hamas half of Jerusalem will make the rest of Jerusalem unlivable … Giving up Judea and Samaria will transfer the areas controlling the coastal plain into the hands of Hamas, leading to Qassems … on Tel Aviv” (Jerusalem Post, October 8). Knesset Member Uri Ariel (National Union/National Religious Party) stated, “If the report is true, the Israeli government has stripped itself of any linkage to Zionism or its Jewish roots” while MK Eli Yishai, head of Olmert government coalition partner Shas, said, “The Olmert government is trying to destroy the dreams of thousands of generations who have dreamed and worked to return the Jewish people to its land … We won’t let him succeed … Whoever thinks he has the authority to give up Jerusalem is wrong. The obligation to keep Jerusalem is solid, not a political gust of wind” (Jerusalem Post, October 9).


The Olmert government proposals are opposed by the majority of the Israeli public. A poll carried out by the newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, and the Dahaf Institute shows that 61% of Israelis believe that Jerusalem should remain under the sovereign control of Israel, 68% oppose handing over even the Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem to the PA and 61% support the retention under Israeli sovereignty of the Western Wall and Temple Mount (Yediot Ahronot, October 9).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “This scheme to divide Jerusalem along the lines of the 2000 negotiations which ended in bloodshed appalls us but does not surprise us. It has been evident for some time that the Olmert government has been determined to make massive concessions to the PA, either unilaterally or through negotiations, regardless of the fact that Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah are no more serious peace partners than is Hamas. Abbas has not jailed terrorists and confiscated their illegal weaponry, nor has he ended the incitement to hatred and murder that permeates the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps. Promoting peace will not be brought about by showing that Israel is willing to tear out its heart; it will be brought about by the PA stopping Palestinian Arab incitement, disarming terror groups, arresting terrorists and closing bomb factories.


“Jerusalem is the religious, historical and cultural heart of the Jewish people, mentioned hundreds of times in the bible but never once in the Quran. It has served as the capital only of the Jewish people, never of another people and when eastern Jerusalem was occupied by Jordan, it was a backwater that no Arab leader other than King Hussein visited. We urge the Olmert government to make no concessions at all under prevailing conditions and to rule out any withdrawals that divide the city and especially those concessions which would tear the historical heart of Jerusalem from the State of Israel.”

Would the Arabs ever agree to give away any part of Mecca or Medina? Would the world’s Catholics ever agree to give away parts of Vatican City? It is shameful that Olmert even considers giving away our patrimony. We urge all Jews, all Jewish organizations, Christian Zionists, and all people of goodwill to forcefully speak out against this folly, which is a negation of the biblical injunction ‘If I forget thee, Oh Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its cunning.’ Jerusalem belongs to the entire Jewish people and no Israeli government has the moral right to give it away. In addition, such concessions will never work. Israel has already given all of Gaza and half of Judea and Samaria without getting one step closer to peace or reducing terror. Such major concessions encourage only more terror and demands.”


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The Zionist Organization of America, founded in 1897, is the oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States. The ZOA works to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations, educates the American public and Congress about the dangers that Israel faces, and combats anti-Israel bias in the media and on college campuses. Its past presidents have included Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and Rabbi Dr. Abba Hillel Silver.

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