Tzipi Livni was elected to lead Kadima and is the party’s candidate for prime minister. We should congratulate her and wish her success – after all, her success is our success.
However, Livni started her maneuvers with a grave strategic mistake, by obligating, in her talks with Shas, that the Jerusalem question will not be on the agenda vis-à-vis the Palestinians and that talks regarding the capital’s future will be postponed to an unknown date.
Livni is making a mistake. The security and socioeconomic situation in Jerusalem requires speedy handling regardless of the final agreements to be formulated during final-status negotiations.
The unstable situation in the capital is not destined to be that way. It is possible to bring about change through political courage, leadership, and strategic vision. It would be better for Livni not to fall for clichés and political pledges that contradict reality.
The suicide terrorists in Jerusalem, Hamas supporters, and global elements associated with radical Islam don’t care which government portfolios will be given to Shas; rather, they are preoccupied with attempts to take over the city. Despite the importance of rewarding Shas Chairman Eli Yishai, we must not sacrifice Jerusalem’s future on the altar of coalition formation.
Livni needs to use her power and insist that as prime minister she will have the liberty to negotiate Jerusalem’s security, or at the very least, discuss unilateral changes and the shifting of Arab neighborhoods out of the city’s municipal limits.
The recent attacks in the capital illustrate the anomalism of life in the capital. It would be impossible to provide security in Jerusalem as long as it comprises Arab neighborhoods and villages, which have been annexed to it due to historical circumstances and gravely undermine the security of its residents. These neighborhoods also gravely undermine the city’s economy, and therefore we reached an absurd and globally unique situation whereby our capital is also the country’s poorest city.
It is also difficult to comprehend Shas’ side of the equation. It appears there was no government, which Shas was part of, that did not discuss the Jerusalem question – including the last government. The current situation requires us to address Jerusalem in the framework of negotiations, but not only there. Even if we isolate the problem of Jerusalem the city, while refraining from negotiation on the question of the holy sites, we will have to provide a solution for the Arab neighborhoods irrespective of the negotiations.
Jerusalem’s security requires us to place several Arab neighborhoods beyond the separation wall. Those are neighborhoods that have nothing to do with the city. The residents of these neighborhoods cannot enter Judea and Samaria, but rather, can only enter Jerusalem. When you add this to the distress they are facing in social, economic, and political terms, we should not be surprised that this is a winning recipe for terror attacks.
Our interest, as well as the interest of Arab residents, is to make Ramallah the center of their life, rather than Jerusalem. We should not force them to integrate into us. We are not seeking a melting pot with them. The only melting pot created is one of terror attacks, racism, and struggles.
Major General (res.) Danny Rothschild is the president of the Council for Peace and Security