Photo: Gil Yohanan
Education Minister Yuli Tamir in Education Committee meeting (Archive photo)
Photo: Gil Yohanan
NRP MK: Gov't decided in '67 that Green Line died
Stormy discussion held in Knesset around education minister's decision to put Green Line in school textbooks. MK Zevulun Orlev brings forth government decision from '67 stipulating that maps of Israel to be demarcated by 'ceasefire lines,' not armistice lines or Green Line

There was much commotion in the Knesset Education Committee around Minister Yuli Tamir's decision to mark the Green Line in school textbooks.


MK Zevulun Orlev (National Union-NRP), one of the leaders of the discussion, revealed a government decision from November 1967 that stipulated that maps of Israel would be demarcated according to "the ceasefire line," and not the armistice lines and the Green Line.


According to Orlev, "The '67 government decision proves that the Green Line died and that a cabinet minister should respect the government's decisions. The minister's decision has no educational foundation.


"This is a clear political decision and an attempt to emblazon the state borders of Peace Now in the minds of students and to turn schools into Peace Now branches," Orlev asserted.


Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer responded to Orlev's claims, saying that the MK is disconnected from reality.


"Orlev is burying his head in the sand and ignoring the fact that a majority if the Israeli public recognizes the existence of the Green Line and the need to establish a Palestinian state," said Oppenheimer.


It should be noted that in the 1967 decision it was written, "From here forth, the map of Israel will be demarcated according to the ceasefire lines without the armistice lines and the borders of the British Mandate." 


MK Zeev Elkin (Kadima) said at the end of the meeting: "I thought I would receive explanations about the essence of the decision during the discussion, but after I heard the Education Ministry representatives, I left the meeting more confused than when I went in.


"It is a shame that the education minister, who last week with publication of the decision, appeared in every possible media outlet to explain her intentions, but didn't find it to be appropriate to show up in the committee to defend her decision," Elkin claimed. 


MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima), who was attended the meeting, also plans on carefully weighing her steps following the decision: "If this management continues in the committee, I won't be a part of it anymore. There is a sense of bitterness and frustration.


"The minister crossed the line between politician and professional. We wanted to strengthen the professionals in the Ministry and to call her to take back or completely freeze her instructions until she comes and explains to us what she means exactly.


However, Committee Chairman Melchior (Labor) didn't agree. I have no doubt that there is an internal conflict between the committee chairman and his faction," she concluded.


'Tamir will be erased from history books'

Tamir's decision to depict the Green Line in school textbooks has won harsh criticism. The education minister noted that she "sensed that there is a chance for dialogue with those opposed to the decision, but reality has cancelled this out and indicates that agreement on the issue is not possible."


SOS Israel, and its leader Rav Shalom Wolpa issued a religious ruling forbidding learning from the textbook in which the Green Line will be demarcated. Members of the group called the education minister to immediately freeze the decision that will, according to them, bring disaster upon Israel.


Rav Wolpa said, "The one who will be erased from the history books and the memory of the nation of Israel is Minister Yuli Tamir. The territories of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) will be remembered forever and millions more Jews will get to settle them."


Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Motzkin David Drukman, one of those who initiated the religious ruling to boycott the textbooks, said that the books are heretical according to religious law.


"Whoever tears apart part of the Land of Israel has the same fate as someone who tore the Torah of Israel. These books must not be learned from, or kept at home," said Rabbi Drukman.


Prime Minister Ehud Olmert discussed the decision with Education Minister Yuli Tamir, saying, "There is no avoiding mentioning what the Green Line was and what the borders of the State were in '67. However, the obligation still stands to present the fact that the State's position and consensus in the country discount returning to the '67 borders."


Tamir explained after the decision: "You can't draw Israel's borders without bringing in politics. There are some things like Gaza that just need it. You can't help it that reality changes."


According to her, publishers won't oppose the move. "Publishers have no say in content. Besides, she noted, existing books will remain unchanged.


First published: 18.12.06, 12:18
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