(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
An Israeli withdrawal from Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem as part of a peace treaty with the Palestinians would put the whole city within range of Palestinian rocket fire, former chief of staff Lt.-Gen (Res.) Moshe Ya'alon said Sunday.
"One must be blind not to see that dividing the capital will bring the neighborhoods of Jerusalem, government ministries and schools into the range of Kassams," Ya'alon said at a Jerusalem rally against the division of Jerusalem organized by the private One Jerusalem organization.
The former chief of staff, who was a vocal opponent of the 2005 unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, said that those who believed an Israeli withdrawal from Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem would lead to stability had not learned the lessons of the pullout from Gaza - which, he said, Israeli residents along the border with the Gaza Strip were living on a daily basis.
"Whoever runs away from terrorism will find himself chased by terrorism," he said. "We cannot let blind politicians divide Jerusalem."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has suggested ceding as many as six Arab neighborhoods on the periphery of the city as part of a final peace agreement with the Palestinians, while Vice Premier Haim Ramon favors handing over all Arab neighborhoods of the city except those around the Old City.
Palestinians claim all of east Jerusalem, including the holy sites, as the capital of their future state.
"Mr. prime minister, declare that Jerusalem is not and will not be negotiable," Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat said at the event.
Barkat, who is hoping to be elected in next year's mayoral race, had previously launched his own campaign against the division of Jerusalem in what was seen as an effort to garner votes in the city.
"Gaza proved that the IDF is not the cause of terrorism, but the necessary result of it," said US Congressman Eric Cantor, the deputy Republican whip in the House of Representatives.
Cantor said that Jerusalem and Israel were the "ground zero" in the war between terrorism and freedom.
The sparsely attended event, which only drew a crowd of several hundred, was part of a public campaign by the private right-wing organization, headed by former minister and world-renowned Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, against the division of Jerusalem.
Separately, the Ir Amim organization - an advocacy group that works for coexistence in Jerusalem and supports dividing the city - said in a new report that Israeli construction, development and land expropriation was setting the city "on a collision course" with any attempt to divide it.
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