temple mount 224.88.
(photo credit: Areil Jerozolimski [file])
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office on Monday morning denied the report in Al-Quds al-Arabi that he and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had agreed to transfer the Temple Mount's holy sites to Jordanian custody.
The Prime Minister's Office said that no agreement had been reached on the holy sites in Jerusalem.
According to the report in the London-based newspaper, Olmert and Abbas had agreed that the Temple Mount sites would be under Jordanian jurisdiction in a final peace deal, and Jordanian citizenship would be granted to 90,000 east Jerusalem residents.
The report also said it was likely that a supreme supervisory commission would be established, which would include representatives from the UN, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the PA.
The report drew strong criticism form the right-wing.
MK Uri Ariel (NU/NRP) said: "If the report is true, the Israeli government has stripped itself of any linkage to Zionism or its Jewish roots."
"The Olmert government is trying to destroy the dreams of thousands of generations who have dreamed and worked to return the Jewish people to its land, continued Ariel, vowing: "we wont let him succeed."
Ariel's party colleague MK Aryeh Eldad said that if Israel willingly gives up sovereignty of the Temple Mount to a foreign power "it will lose its moral, historical, legal and religious justification for existence."
"This is post Zionist, nonsensical and suicide," he said.
MK Tzi Hendel (NU/NRP) said: "I warned long ago that Olmert would divide Jerusalem, and now it is clear that even the Temple Mount, which is the heart and soul of the Jewish people, is going for cheap."
Shas chairman Eli Yishai said that "whoever thinks he has the authority to give up Jerusalem is wrong. The obligation to keep Jerusalem is solid, not a political gust of wind."
When Israel and Jordan signed a peace deal in 1994, it was agreed that Israel would honor the special role of the Hashemite Kingdom over the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem and in a final Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, Israel would give high importance to Jordan's historic role over the holy sites.
Israel Radio reported that Jordan had recently set up a new fund for the renovation of Al Aksa Mosque and Dome of the Rock. The head of the fund even proposed that Jordan give Jordanian passports to some 90,000 east Jerusalem residents.
Meanwhile, Vice Premier Haim Ramon told Israel Radio that the question of who would have custody of Jerusalem's holy sites must not be discussed at the moment.
"We must decide that in that area there will be a special body which we will discuss in the future," he said.
Also Monday, in an interview with Army Radio, Ramon said that Olmert's coalition would support his plan to give the Palestinians several east Jerusalem neighborhoods in exchange for territory in the West Bank.
Ramon said that even Israel Beiteinu would back such a concession, as would the Labor Party.
"There are two central parties that agree to this," Ramon said. "The most important thing is to preserve the Jewish and democratic state of Israel."
Ramon told Israel Radio that there was a consensus in the cabinet that "no Palestinian refugee should return to Israel under the law of return - legal or moral."
However, he proposed a discussion over refugees who wanted to return for humanitarian reasons, saying that "the idea that this will cause Israel's collapse is ridiculous."
On Sunday, Ramon hinted that his Jerusalem plan, announced last month, would be on the negotiating table at the November Middle East peace conference in Annapolis.
Ramon's associates said afterwards that he had merely stated his own positions that he has favored for many years. They said his views had become mainstream and were even adopted by Israel Beiteinu.
According to the plan, Israel would not transfer control of the Old City and neighborhoods around it to the Palestinians, Ramon said in the Monday interview.
Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said Ramon's plan would damage Israel both on a national level and a security level.
He told Israel Radio that Ramon's proposal on refugees and the division of Jerusalem would "never pass in any Israeli government."
Mofaz warned that "in a few months we will be facing a Fatah-Hamas alliance so we must be reasonable and responsible in our proposals to the Palestinians."
In Sunday's cabinet meeting, Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman surprised many by agreeing that Israel should cede control of certain areas of Jerusalem, while strengthening its control of areas such as the Old City and Mount Scopus.
At a press conference Monday Lieberman said: "We are ready for exchanging populations and territory."
"It's wrong to fix the Palestinian problem without addressing the Israeli Arab problem," Lieberman continued, saying that the Jewish people didn't pray to return to Anata or Shuafat and not even to Taibe or Um-El-Fahm.
"We are ready to exchange Anata and Shuafat for Givat Ze'ev and Gush Etzion. Their only connection to Israel is that they come for NIS 11 billion in national insurance while the taxes collected from them is a fraction of that," said the Israel Beiteinu chairman.
However, Lieberman went on to say that there was no room for a foreign presence in the Old City or Mount Scopus. "That's integral," he said.
He also dismissed the right of return for Palestinian refugees - "not in the humanitarian sense and not in a telepathic sense," adding that there was no territorial contiguity between Gaza and the West Bank and no possibility to divide Israeli sovereignty in the Old City.
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