CHIEF NEGOTIATOR FAVORS DIVISION OF JERUSALEM!
by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz (reported in Israel National News)
In a letter to a fellow Kadima politicians, the lead negotiator on behalf of the government in talks with the Fatah-run half of the Palestinian Authority confirmed his plan to relinquish sovereignty over much of Jerusalem, including in the Old City.
In response to a concerned letter of inquiry from Jerusalem Municipal Council Member Nir Barkat, Vice Prime Minister Chaim Ramon wrote, “The Jewish neighborhoods of
Ramon fully represents the government in negotiations with the PA. Jerusalem will be recognized as Israeli and under Israeli sovereignty. Accordingly, the Arab neighborhoods will be recognized as Palestinian. Passages between the Israeli neighborhoods will be open and secure â€“ accordingly the same will be true for the Palestinian neighborhoods.”
Regarding the “holy sites” in the capital, Ramon wrote only that there would be an undefined “special sovereignty.” Inside the Old City, the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter “will remain under Israeli rule forever,” the vice-premier wrote.
Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that Ramon fully represents the government in negotiations with the PA, but said that the opinions he expressed in his letter were his own and “do not obligate the Prime Minister.”
In reaction to the publication of the letter to Barkat, Knesset Member David Rotem of Yisrael Beiteinu, a member of the governing coalition, said, “Minister Ramon’s plan will enhance his prestige in the Left, but will dissolve the government.” Rotem made the comment to the Yediot Acharonot newspaper on Tuesday.
Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai of the Shas party expressed strong opposition to the Ramon plan, as well, saying Jerusalem is “not a bargaining chip.” Last week, responding to then-unconfirmed plans by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to divide Jerusalem, Yishai declared, “Unequivocally, Shas will not sit in a government that creates a Palestinian state on the Green Line and within Jerusalem municipal territory.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, of the Labor party, reserved comment on the Ramon letter.
Minister of Pensioner Affairs, Rafi Eitan of the Gil Pensioners party, said that the Ramon plan for Jerusalem will not garner a government majority, in any case. Without speaking
“Ramon’s plan will enhance his prestige in the Left, but will dissolve the government.” – MK David Rotem.
Eitan said that he would oppose the Vice Prime Minister’s ideas on Jerusalem.
Even some Knesset members representing Ramon’s own faction, Kadima, expressed concern over the positions espoused by the government’s chief negotiator. Both MK Ze’ev Elkin and MK Otniel Schneller claimed that the idea of dividing sovereignty in Jerusalem is antithetical to the basic platform of the Kadima party.
MK Tzvi Hendel of the National Union party, who was expelled from his home in the Gush Katif town of Netzer Hazani, slammed the selection of Ramon as chief negotiator: “There is no greater shame than the fact that a convicted criminal, who lacks morals and who promoted the evacuation of Gush Katif – which lead to the current disasters – is now conducting, on behalf of Olmert, insane negotiations for the division of Jerusalem.” Hendel called for the toppling of the government by the Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu parties.