Barak: Comments hurt global status
Photo: Yaron Brener

Barak asks ministers to keep mum on Jerusalem

In response to ministers' comments on east Jerusalem construction, defense minister asks government to 'act responsibly, avoid harsh or provocative statements' on capital. Peace process at 'delicate stage', he says

Defense Minister Ehud Barak published a statement Thursday in which he asks government ministers and Palestinian leaders to "act responsibly and avoid harsh or provocative statements on Jerusalem."


Barak was responding to what he called "an attack by senior ministers in the Israeli government against US attempts to restart the peace process." He said the attacks were harmful to the process, which is at a delicate stage.


Interior Minister Eli Yishai told the Shas Party journal, Yom Le'Yom (Day to Day), recently that there had never been a construction freeze in Jerusalem and there never would be.


"We will build everywhere in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of our homeland, and this is my clarification to our allies and friends the Americans," he was quoted as saying.


"These words hurt Israel's interests with the US and the entire world," Barak stated. "They can present Israel as a peace objector and thus cause its global status to deteriorate."


In response to Barak's comments, a senior source in the office of Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said it was sad to see politicians taking advantage of the rule of law for cheap political spin.


"The police are doing all that they have been permitted to do by the court," the source said. "The police are not demolishing homes but maintaining security for the process, according to the court's decision. The rule of law is not a geo-political tool in the Middle East."


The issue of Jerusalem and the dispute over construction in the east city was once again taken up following an announcement by US special envoy George Mitchell, who said proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians required Israel to halt all construction in the neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.


Jerusalem Day, which was marked Wednesday, also dredged up a number of different opinions on the matter. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech that "we will never divide Jerusalem."


"We will continue to build and draw our strength in Jerusalem. We will continue to plan, develop, and create," he said.


Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told reporters in Tokyo that Israel has not agreed to freeze construction in east Jerusalem. He said life in the capital would continue as in any other city in Israel.


פרסום ראשון: 05.13.10, 12:23
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