PM Olmert
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Photo: GPO

Olmert hints at possible concessions in Jerusalem

During special Knesset session marking 2001 assassination of Rehavam Ze'evi, PM questions assumption of sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods near Jerusalem after 67 war. Says Ze'evi 'had been first to champion establishment of Palestinian state'

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday questioned the annexation of Palestinian neighborhoods to the capital after the Six Day War. "Was it necessary to determine that the Shuafat refugee camp, Arab el-

Suwahara and Walaja were also part of Jerusalem? I will admit, there are legitimate questions to be asked here," he said.


Olmert chose a surprising venue for his comments as he spoke before the Knessent plenum during a special memorial session marking the 6th anniversary of Rehavam "Gandhi" Ze'evi's assassination at the hands of Palestinian terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).


Ze'evi, who was minister of tourism at the time of his death in 2001, was an outspoken opponent of conceding land for the promise of security.


Olmert said that Ze'evi had been "among the first, if not the very first, to speak of the establishment of a Palestinian state."


"The Land of Israel was dear to him," Olmert said, "but here is something I'm not certain you are aware of: Forty years ago Gandhi already spoke of the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel in territories west of Jordan. He called for expediting the establishment of such a state."


'He determined Jerusalem's borders'

Olmert also addressed Ze'evi's contribution to the development of Jerusalem: "Another great contribution of Gandhi's that we would do well to remember, and I would like to emphasis it as someone who was privileged to serve as mayor of Jerusalem for a decade - it is with this contribution that Gandhi left his mark on the history of the State of Israel.


"Immediately following the Six Day War he was the man who coordinated all the administrative work being done to determine the borders of the now unified Jerusalem. The city map that Gandhi drew up was the one approved by the Knesset on July 27, 1967, when the decision was made to unify Jerusalem and expand its territory tenfold.


"It is thanks to that decision that we now have wonderful and vibrant neighborhoods like Ramot, French Hill, Ramat Eshkol, Givat HaMivtar, Pisgat Ze'ev, Armon HaNatziv, Har Homa and Gilo, not to mention the Jewish Quarter in the Old City."


Speaking of the minister's assassination at the hands of Palestinian terrorists, the prime minister said Israel had "tracked down the killers, captured them and will not exonerate them."


"Our fight against the terror organizations is an steadfast and determined one, and were Gandhi here with us today he would have been contented and pleased with the security forces' success in thwarting terror attacks," said Olmert.


Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said during his speech that "No one loved Jerusalem more than Gandhi.


"If Ze'evi would have heard the voices calling for the division of the capital he would said that the capital must be united forever under Israeli sovereignty," he said.


פרסום ראשון: 10.15.07, 17:18
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