The world versus a unified Jerusalem

08/06/2011 09:25

Haaretz:  The Six-Day War was a watershed in the short history of the State of Israel. One point of friction it created, and that has yet to be resolved, is the status of the united city of Jerusalem.

At the end of July, 1967, Y. Tira reported in Haaretz that Jerusalem "had turned from the capital of [the state of] Israel to the focus of the Land of Israel."

For 19 years, he wrote, the city had been divided, and although it was the capital, "it had depended on kindness, good will, desire and a vague consciousness of its special status in the history of the nation and the land."

Since the war, the city had grown and expanded its boundaries, particularly westward, although the pace of life remained calm and completely different from that of cosmopolitan Tel Aviv.

Tira compared Jerusalem after the war to a person who has a bad accident and winds up in a body cast. "And then the cast is removed all at once from his entire body, and his legs begin to move before blood can circulate forcefully through his veins, until he becomes breathless to the point of collapse in shock."

Rural Jerusalem disappeared. Peace and quiet were disturbed, and the strangest noise that reached residents' ears was "the buzz of planes in the sky, a phenomenon that did not exist in Jerusalem for 19 years ... and was now accepted as a pleasant sound, perhaps the most pleasant of sounds."

But one man's meat is another man's poison. Members of the Old City council refused to cooperate with Israel, and announced that they viewed "the Israeli government as an occupying power."

Haaretz's Jerusalem correspondent Uzi Benziman reported that "members of the former Old City council refused to appear before the Jerusalem district supervisor in order to discuss its merger with the greater Jerusalem municipality."

This refusal to recognize the unification of the city aroused many responses. Haaretz's correspondent in Ashdod reported Religion Minister Zerach Warhaftig, speaking at a thanksgiving ceremony for the IDF's victory, as saying that "The capital will not be divided and there is no point in talking about internationalization of the city."

Prime Minister Eshkol Levy also clarified that "We can not give up the Old City of Jerusalem," adding that Israel without Jerusalem "would be a state without a head."

The UN General Assembly expressed its regret over the failure to undo the city's unification and called on Israel to refrain from further actions.

Haaretz's U.S. correspondent Eli Eyal reported that the assembly also expressed regret that "Israel had not applied the UN resolution to rescind any steps that cause changes in Jerusalem's status."

Support for Israel came, perhaps surprisingly, from Ghana. Haaretz quoted the African country's condemnation of the resolution, appearing in Accra's Daily Graphic newspaper, and according to which, "for 19 years not one nation spoke out against the Jordanian ban on Israeli access to [Jewish] holy places in the Old City."

Haaretz also quoted David Ben-Gurion, who dismissed the UN's calls.

"I do not have contempt for the actions of non-Jews, but I am not taking them into account. If we create facts on the ground in Jerusalem, I do not believe a foreign power will remove us," he said.

On August 1, Haaretz reported that Muslim religious leaders had announced that "we will not agree to a united Jerusalem. We will never forget that we are under the military government of Israel the occupier."

However, despite this opposition, Haaretz noted on August 2 that "life in the Old City goes on as usual."

Haaretz also reported that MK Shlomo Lorincz (Agudat Yisrael ) created a sensation in the Knesset when he declared "It would be better not to have the Western Wall than to have 20,000 cars driving up to Jerusalem on Saturday and profaning the Sabbath."

Knesset members from the Mapai party asked that Lorincz's remarks be stricken, since "many lost their lives to liberate the Western Wall, and these remarks will hurt the feelings of people whose relatives sacrificed their lives in the battle."

This story is by: Yael Gruenpeter



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