MKs to PM: Stand up to US on J'lem

78 members sign or support letter backing building in capital.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
March 19, 2010 05:26
2 minute read.
Knesset

Knesset. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozlimski )

Top figures across the political spectrum signed a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Thursday evening, designed to present a wide consensus in support of Jewish neighborhoods beyond the 1967 boundaries of Jerusalem.

The letter, written in advance of the premier’s departure for the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington, called on Netanyahu to stand strong regarding Israeli sovereignty in the Jewish neighborhoods.

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Four dozen MKs signed on to the brief letter, stating that “we, the undersigned members of Knesset, who represent different approaches and world-views regarding the desirable permanent-status arrangement, are unified behind the policy of all Israeli governments to this day, regarding our attachment to the historical and national areas of Jerusalem and the right of the State of Israel to actualize our control in its Jewish neighborhoods in all parts of the city – neighborhoods that constitute an inseparable part of Jerusalem that will remain in our hands in any future permanent status arrangement.

“We support the continuation of building and development in all of the neighborhoods without any restriction or delay,” the letter affirmed.

“The importance of the letter is to strengthen Israel through actualizing its authority over our capital, Jerusalem,” said MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima), who initiated the missive. “This is not meant to oppose our greatest friend, the United States of America, but rather to present through the letter the most basic common consensus in Israeli society, which is the force behind and the key to an agreement on any peace process.”

Schneller said that Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin’s office would present the letter to Netanyahu before the premier left for the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington next week.

Schneller said that 78 of the 120 members of Knesset had already expressed their support for the missive, and that the only parties that had not signed on to the letter or expressed support were the three Arab parties and Meretz.

Thirty of those who did express support – including Rivlin and ministers from Likud, Labor, Israel Beiteinu, Habayit Hayehudi, Shas and UTJ – were prohibited, under Knesset guidelines, from signing on to any petition, due to their positions within the government. Rivlin did, however, include a letter of his own, as did Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima).

Although Labor ministers expressed support for the letter, and at least one deputy minister was poised to sign it late Thursday evening, none of the party’s more left-leaning rank-and-file MKs signed. Several members of Kadima also signed.

The Knesset’s Land of Israel Lobby also sent a letter to Netanyahu on Thursday, saying that “in advance of your trip to the United States, we stand behind your steadfast position on the issue of building in Jerusalem.”

“We take this opportunity to remind you again that the American Congress expressed over and over its support for Jerusalem’s status as the capital of Israel by demanding that the American Embassy be moved to Jerusalem,” wrote lobby co-chairmen MK Arye Eldad (National Union) and coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud).


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