Sunday, April 13, 2008


Bush, seeking to divide Jerusalem, will avoid "controversial" Kotel visit

By Israel Insider staff April 10, 2008

The advance team of President George W. Bush has requested to avoid "controversial" like Jerusalem's Western Wall and prefers Masada as the centerpiece of this visit to Israel. Bush will go from the 60th anniversary celebrations to a US-Arab summit in Sinai to which Israel has not been invited. On her recent trip, Condoleezza Rice report gave an American bridging document which calls for Jerusalem's division.

Apparently George Bush is unwilling do what even Pope John Paul had no problem with: visit the Western Wall, or Kotel, in Jerusalem's Old City. Instead he and his team apparently are leaning to Masada, the site where a group of "zealot" Jews committed suicide en masse rather than fall captive to the Romans.

Organizers of Bush's planned two-and-a-half-day stay said they had been searching for a symbolic location for the president to visit, but wanted to avoid one that might stir controversy like the Western Wall, Golan Heights or Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

During his stay, Bush will address the Knesset and give a speech detailing the history of U.S.-Israeli relations and his vision of its future. White House staff said they were interested in organizing a meeting between Bush, his wife Laura and a group of recent immigrants to Israel.

Bush will hold meetings with Olmert, President Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. He will take part in a conference organized by Peres that will include presidents and heads of state from around the world.

Olmert has not been invited to a regional summit at the Sinai resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh, contradicting reports he would participate in the event. Or if he was invited, he apparently has refused. Former Meretz leader Yossi Beilin said Monday that Olmert would attend the Sharm conference.

But U.S. sources said Wednesday that the summit would be attended by Bush, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah
Bush does not intend to visit the Palestinian Authority during his Middle East visit, but will meet Abbas in Egypt and host him in Washington a few days before his departure.

Meanwhile, an article in World Net Daily reports that The United States has proposed a plan to divide Jerusalem. The plan, divided into separate phases, calls for Israel eventually to forfeit parts of the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site. According to the first stage of the U.S. plan, Israel would give the PA some municipal and security sovereignty over key Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.

The PA would be allowed to open some official institutions in Jerusalem, elect a mayor for the Palestinian side of the city and deploy police forces to maintain law and order. The initial stage also calls for the PA to operate Jerusalem municipal institutions.

After five years, if both sides keep their commitments, according to the U.S. plan, the PA would be given full sovereignty over the eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods and also over unspecified sections of the Temple Mount to be forfeited forever by Israel.

After the five year period, the PA could deploy official security forces in Jerusalem other than the police force (in other words, an army) and could also open major governmental institutions, such as a president's office, and ministries for the finance and foreign ministries.

The U.S. plan leaves Israel and the PA to negotiate which Jerusalem neighborhoods would become Palestinian. WND cites sources as saying that American officials recommended that sections of Jerusalem's Old City as well as largely Arab Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Jabal mukabar, Beit Hanina, Shoafat, Abu Dis and Abu Tur would be severed from Israel's Jerusalem municipality and become Palestinian.

Olmert's government has hinted a number of times it will divide Jerusalem. In December, Israeli Vice Premier Haim Ramon said the country "must" give up sections of Jerusalem for a future Palestinian state, and said the Palestinians can rename their part of Jerusalem "to whatever they want." He said "the Jewish neighborhoods, including Har Homa, will remain under Israeli sovereignty, and the Arab neighborhoods will be the Palestinian capital, which they will call Jerusalem or whatever they want."

Israel recaptured eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount -- Judaism's holiest site -- during the 1967 Six Day War. The Palestinians have claimed Jerusalem as their capital. About 231,000 Arabs live in Jerusalem, mostly in eastern neighborhoods, and many reside in illegally constructed complexes. The city has an estimated total population of 724,000.

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