(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The current Palestinian violence should be seen as not only a crisis but also an opportunity, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett said on Wednesday in an interview with The Jerusalem Post in honor of its upcoming Diplomatic Conference on November 18 in which he will be a featured speaker.
Bennett said that following the 1967 Six Day War, the government technically united Jerusalem by annexing sections that had been under Jordanian control for 19 years. But he said every Israeli government since then has refrained from taking steps that would truly unite the city such as providing Jewish and Arab neighborhoods equal services.
“When you’re in Wadi Joz, you don’t feel like you’re in Rehavia,” Bennett said. “If you truly believe in a united Jerusalem, deeds have to be more than words. We need a real united Jerusalem. It takes determination, audacity and money to provide full services and law enforcement in the entire city.”
Bennett, who is education minister, singled out the schools and roads in Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods as needing immediate improvement. But he said that concurrently in those neighborhoods, laws must be enforced
, such as traffic rules and paying municipal taxes.
“Jewish girls on Hagai Street in the Old City are being harassed by Arabs and the police there are being spat on and cursed,” Bennett said. “That could never happen on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv. If we treat Hagai Street as we do Ibn Gvirol in Tel Aviv, that would be uniting Jerusalem.”
Bennett, who toured Arab neighborhoods with security experts on Sunday, said he was trying to persuade the government to adopt the plan. Implementing it fully would take five to 10 years, he said. If that were done, it would be safe for Jews to walk from the Western Wall to the Mount of Olives, he added.
“My plan would Israelicize all of Jerusalem,” he said. “All I am saying is to apply Israeli law to Israeli land. It is doable.”
In the interview, Bennett said he would look into the possibility of taking steps to save the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s IBA English News.