Former minister: Israel must separate from East Jerusalem or lose city

Haim Ramon says if capital’s 320,000 Palestinian residents were to vote, next mayor ‘will be the Mufti’s grandson’

Haim Ramon in the Knesset in 2010. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Haim Ramon in the Knesset in 2010. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Former minister and Knesset member Haim Ramon warned Saturday of a Palestinian demographic threat in Jerusalem, saying Israel must separate from the city’s eastern part if it hopes to maintain control of its capital.

Speaking at a cultural event in the city’s French Hill neighborhood, Ramon — who was a member of the Labor and Kadima parties over a period of more than 30 years in the Knesset — said Jerusalem could soon find itself with a Palestinian mayor if Israel does not relinquish the city’s eastern neighborhoods.

“(Jerusalem’s) 320,000 Palestinians have permanent residency cards. If they decide to vote in the municipal elections, the next mayor will be the grandson of the Mufti,” he said, referring to the city’s top Muslim authority figure.

“In 10 years French Hill will be Palestinian Hill,” he added.

Noting that many of the terror attacks in Jerusalem in recent months of violence had originated in East Jerusalem, Ramon said the Arab neighborhoods were a part of Israel in name only.

He added that annexing East Jerusalem after the Six Day War in 1967 had been a mistake, one that should be rectified.

“To err is human. To stick to the error is idiotic,” he said.

In December, Ramon announced the formation of a new movement, Save Jewish Jerusalem, which he said was intended to prevent Israel from becoming a bi-national state.

A wave of Palestinian terror attacks that began in the fall of last year has claimed the lives of 29 Israelis and four foreign nationals. Some 200 Palestinians have also been killed, some two-thirds of them while attacking Israelis, and the rest during clashes with troops, according to the Israeli army.

A high percentage of the attacks have originated in East Jerusalem, where residents enjoy some Israeli rights as permanent residents, though not full citizens.

One major cause of tensions between the capital’s Jewish and Arab residents is the perceived Israeli threat to the Temple Mount compound, the holiest site for Jews and third holiest for Muslims. Palestinians fear Israel is seeking to change the rules it instituted after 1967 that allow Jews to visit the site but not pray there.

Israel has repeatedly denied any plans to do so, but far-right Jews have increasingly sought to increase Jewish clout in the compound.

Israel has beefed up security in East Jerusalem and along the fault-line between Jewish and Arab neighborhoods to counter the security threat.

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