Education Minister Yuli Tamir decided on Tuesday that new geography textbooks ordered by the Education Ministry will include the so-called Green Line in their representations of the map of Israel, triggering condemnation from right-wing MKs.
"This is for the purposes of education and demonstration and discussion," Tamir told The Jerusalem Post , flatly rejecting as "irrelevant" the objections of the politicians who blasted her decision.
"There was a conscious choice to make the Green Line disappear," she said of previous government policies that left the demarcation line out of official maps, "but I don't think we should educate to ignorance. Israel's eastern border has not been marked [in the schoolbooks], and it should be."
Former chairman of the Education Committee MK Zevulun Orlev (NU-NRP) led the charge against the move, saying that Tamir wanted to impose "Peace Now" ideology on the ministry.
Several hours later, Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheimer issued his own response that Tamir's initiative was "right and just."
"To this day the education system is the only system that doesn't recognize the Green Line and systematically misleads the children of Israel," said Oppenheimer. "The settlers must understand that the Green Line is now clearer than ever and should be drawn on the maps."
Former education minister MK Yitzhak Levy (NU-NRP) criticized Tamir for "mixing politics with the education system."
MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima), a former director-general of the Education Ministry, also criticized Tamir, saying that she did not possess the authority to issue such an order.
"The education minister is not permitted to interfere with the content of textbooks, and should also have consulted the other members of the Knesset before making such changes," Tirosh said.
The strongest response came from the Likud Party, which filed a no-confidence motion in the Knesset over Tamir's initiative.
"The minister has mixed politics and education in an act of ignorance to state laws including the Jerusalem Law and Golan Heights Law," the motion stated.
Opposition Chairman MK Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) added that the decision was "strange and inappropriate."
"We demand that the prime minister not approve these changes," said Netanyahu. "Over the years, I and others have been fighting to change the marking on the map so as not to determine the results of future agreements, and now Tamir comes in and decides the marking should include the Arab demands. She might as well include the 1948 borders."
There appeared to be little chance that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would stop the changes, as he has already stated that he supports Tamir's initiative.
"There is no reason not to mark the Green Line and where the borders of the country were in 1967," said Olmert.
MK Nadia Hilu (Labor) was the only MK to support Tamir, calling the move "brave."
"This isn't a revolution," retired Tel Aviv University cartographer Prof. Moshe Braver told the Post Tuesday.
"The political approach [of the right-wing MKs who protested Tamir's decision] is that Israel controls the land, and therefore it doesn't make sense to put it [the Green Line] on the maps," he said. "They believe there are psychological ramifications to it."
To that end, official government maps since the immediate aftermath of the Six Day War in 1967 have ignored the Green Line by government order.
But, said Braver, who has edited maps of Israel since 1949, including most of the atlases used in the educational system to this day, "the line exists in daily life."
Thus the issue was not one of education or ignorance, as the education minister claimed.
"The children travel around the country, and they know it's there. In many places, it's even a fence, and just a few months ago, the [official] Israel Survey [government cartographic agency] published a map with the path of that fence."
"One large atlas I edited," Braver recalled, "included the Green Line and was used in many schools without bothering anyone" until then-education minister Limor Livnat ordered its removal.