TEL AVIV - The government must move to exchange land and population with the Palestinians, or else Israel will disappear in a few years, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski told Ynet readers during an online chat Wednesday.
The idea of a land swap, which would entail the transfer of areas populated by Israeli-Arabs to Palestinian control, has been harshly condemned by Arab politicians.
Some right-wing politicians, however, view it as the only viable solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
When asked about the perils of Jerusalem'st shrinking Jewish majority, the mayor said Israel must swap land and residents with the Palestinian Authority in order to endure as a Jewish state.
"If the government won't act in the direction of exchanging land and population, in a few years we will not have a country. There will no longer be a Jewish majority; we may even see a non-Jewish prime minister," Lupolianski said.
"What other choice do we have if we want to have our own country? Does the Jewish nation not deserve its own state? It is wrong to establish a 'mini-Palestine branch' within the state of Israel."
As for the upholding of the Chametz (leavened bread) Law in the city, he said the legislation would be enforced because "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the heart of the Jewish nation."
"From my experience, I can say we rarely encounter attempts to violate the law in Jerusalem, but there are always those who want to create provocations," Lupolianski said.
Mayor promises better means of transportation
In response to a reader's question on how he plans to deal with Jerusalem's poor road infrastructure, the mayor said "The goal in Jerusalem today is to prioritize the fast and efficient operation of public transportation."
"To this end, the Jerusalem Municipality has invested NIS 600 million (about USD 140 million). There is the Light Train, which is scheduled to begin its operation, God willing, in February 2008," he said. "In addition, the (Israel Railways) Jerusalem-Tel Aviv train line is expected to renew its operation after seven years this Saturday night."
For the full Hebrew text of Mayor Uri Lupolianski's online chat with Ynet readers: http://www.ynet.co.il/home/0,7340,L-3077,00.html