Photo: Avigail Uzi
Avigdor Lieberman unimpressed
Photo: Avigail Uzi

Politicians slam Jerusalem proposal

Furious reactions from rightist, leftist politicians to think tank's proposal for international supervision over Jerusalem holy sites; MK Hendel: Only if Israel supervises Mecca; MK Orlev: Experts suffer from inferiority complex

A document published by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies that called for international supervision in Jerusalem garnered harsh responses from both left- and right-wing politicians Tuesday.


“The team of experts from Herzliya is suffering from feelings of guilt or Jewish inferiority; there is no other way to explain why they would suggest to abandon the Jewish people’s holiest places to the mercy of strangers,” National Religious Party Chairman Zevulun Orlev said.


National Union Head Zvi Hendel said that “only after Israel is granted supervision over Mecca and the Vatican will it allow supervision over the holy sites in Jerusalem."


“There is a limit to the audacity and self-humiliation a sovereign, proud country can endure,” he said.


Israel Our Home Chairman Avigdor Lieberman claimed international supervision over Jerusalem would be detrimental to Israel’s security, saying, “our bitter experience with international inspectors of all kinds teaches us that they only assist the other side and prevent Israel from safeguarding its security.”


“The events in south Lebanon, specifically the kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers, as well as what is happening in Hebron and in the Gaza crossings – this is a gloomy reality that requires no further interpretation,” he added.


Left-wing activists, meanwhile, also expressed their disgruntlement with the proposal.


“The solution should be searched for through negotiations with the Palestinians, not with the world,” Geneva Initiative Director General Gadi Baltiansky said.


“As opposed to the proposal presented by the researchers, Israel can maintain its sovereignty in the Western Wall as part of a permanent agreement, as the Geneva agreement proves,” he added.


'Not a political solution'


One of the document's authors, Jerusalem Institute Director Ora Ahimeir, explained to Ynet on Tuesday that the document is not an accepted solution and does not state a stance derived from political views, "but was only aimed at assisting in defining the way the issue of Jerusalem is viewed."


She added that Israelis and Palestinians are entangled in a "deep conflict that does not enable an understanding between the two sides."


"We know that the core of the problem in Jerusalem is the Holy Basin, the Old City," Ahimeir explained.


"Every solution requires coordination, but if coordination is not possible, we recommend international support. It will take a long time because there is no magic solution here," she said.


"This international support should also be coordinated because there are effects on the economy, on society, on tourism, on infrastructures. Although it's not easy, we expect a new way of thinking that will reduce the conflict to a specific area while delegating new authorities," she added.


Ahimeir rejected the claims that the publication's timing was aimed at pressuring politicians during the current crisis following the early elections and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's illness.


"There are really no political views here. There is no specific time for submitting such a document. The experts involved in preparing the recommendations believe that it is time to make arrangements," she said.


"This is an attempt to put the cards on the table and prepare. I would like to mention that we are not those sitting around the discussion table in order to decide," she added.


Professor Ruth Lapidot, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Institute, said that it would be exaggerated to say the study recommends an international administration of Jerusalem.


She explained this was only one of five recommendations examined by a group of 15 researchers during the past three years.


The study was initiated in 1993, she said, adding that it was not aimed at influencing, but at providing background material.


"There is a lot of distrust in the current situation between Israel and the Palestinians, but if one day we do reach a compromise between the sides, it would be possible to make use of our research alternatives," she said.


Rinat Malkes contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 01.17.06, 16:59
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