Haim Ramon is a slippery, huggy- kissy former vice premier who once tried to sell Israelis on Yasser Arafat as the prince of peace. He nearly destroyed public medicine in Israel as health minister, from whence he proceeded to gut the Histadrut labor federation.
He also dragged prime ministers Rabin and Olmert into alliances with his corrupt buddy Arye Deri of Shas, which grievously handed the keys of the Chief Rabbinate to the ultra-Orthodox.
Then he co-founded the corrupt Kadima Party, which led to the destruction of Gush Katif and disastrous unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.
Now Haim Ramon is back. He has returned to hawk himself as the savior of Jerusalem.
Along with a group of ex-cops and inveterate peace-processers who have been proven wrong time and time again, the resurrected Ramon wants to wall 200,000 Palestinians out of the capital and strip them of their Israeli resident status and social benefits.
Ramon’s “Movement to Save Jewish Jerusalem” would have Israel withdraw unilaterally from 28 predominantly Arab neighborhoods, and hand these over to the cadaverous Palestinian Authority.
Neighborhoods such as Shuafat, Jebl Mukaber, Sur Baher and Walaja would be detached from Jerusalem’s municipal area and locked out. That way, Ramon says, a stable Jewish majority will be restored in Jerusalem, and Palestinian terrorism will decrease. The percentage of Palestinians in the city will drop to less than 20 percent, from the nearly 40 percent today.
Israel will also save, Ramon says, some NIS 2 billion-NIS 3b. ($500million-$ 750m.) in annual transfer payments to the cut-off Arabs. “It’s impossible to expel Arabs, but it’s possible to build a wall; a very big, strong and permanent wall,” Ramon sermonizes.
RAMON’S PLAN to partition Jerusalem is dreadful. The belligerent shearing of Jerusalem into Arab and Jewish sovereignties will turn it into the bull’s-eye of Mideast battle; a city that will make Belfast at its worst look like paradise. The main reason for this is that any section of the city under Arab rule will immediately become Ground Zero for the fierce wars being waged within the Arab world over Islamic lifestyle, ideology and legitimacy.
Just who is going to rule in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond Ramon’s really big walls? Will it be the pallid and vapid Palestinian Authority, or the radical Islamist Hamas (which openly seeks Israel’s destruction), or the annihilationist al-Qaida and ISIS-affiliated forces (which are growing in strength in Sinai, Syria and the territories)? Each of these forces will seek to prove its supremacy and bolster its legitimacy by attacking western Jerusalem. What better way to prove loyalty to the Islamic cause than to attack the rump Israeli presence in the city (including the Old City), from a base of operations flush-up against Ramon’s brilliant barrier? Terrorist operations will become irresistibly tantalizing.
And think of the Arab Jerusalemites who find themselves on the other side of Ramon’s hostile barricade, with reduced incomes from the loss of residency and employment rights to which they have been entitled for nearly 50 years. They will never accept such disenfranchisement (nor, I suspect, will the Israeli Supreme Court).
Might they seek relief in the recruitment centers of Hamas and Islamic Jihad? Might they borrow Gaza tunnel techniques to dig from Shuafat into adjacent Jewish Jerusalem neighborhoods? Might they make sniper posts out of the many massive 12-story apartment buildings currently being built illegally by Palestinians just over the fence from Pisgat Ze’ev? Might they have some fun firing Kassam rockets from a-Zaim into Har Hotzvim? ABOUT SIX YEARS AGO, the National Security Council under Prof. Uzi Arad quietly conducted an in-depth study of all the plans for dividing and sharing Jerusalem with the Palestinians. NSC experts reviewed the sophisticated and detailed plans for establishing two sovereign capitals in the city drafted by foreign diplomats, NGOs and think tanks, and then sat with police and army planners, too.
The upshot was (and so it remains) that plans like Ramon’s are utter folly; even lunacy. They would recklessly drag Jerusalem into the hottest-ever hell of Israeli-Arab war.
Only Israeli security control over the whole Jerusalem envelope prevents the city from becoming a boiling cauldron of conflict beyond the imaginable. And there is no neutral peacekeeping force in the world that will do a more serious or better job than Israeli forces of keeping Jerusalem mostly a terrorist-free zone.
It’s true that even the Israel Police, Border Police and Shin Bet can’t stop every 16-year-old from grabbing a kitchen knife and stepping outside to stab a pregnant Israeli mother on her way to the supermarket. But Israeli troops keep the rocket and missile launchers, bomb-making factories, and terrorist headquarters far enough away from greater Jerusalem to make life in this special city reasonable and enjoyable.
IT WORRIES ME that many people seem to have forgotten why a united Jerusalem under exclusive Israeli sovereignty is the key, not an obstacle, to peace and security in the region. Too many Israelis and international observers are buying into the nonsensical presumption that splitting Jerusalem will lead to prosperity for the city and to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
The truth is just the opposite: A partitioned Jerusalem will die. The city will be destroyed in every way – culturally, religiously, economically and more – as violence sucks its lifeblood away.
Remember this too: Israel has, for the most part, managed the complicated city with sophistication and sensitivity.
Overall, the past 49 years have been good times for Jews, Muslims, Christians, scholars, clergymen, craftsmen, architects, artists, archeologists and tourists alike.
Israel has sagaciously developed the city from a backwater town to a truly radiant international capital city sparkling with energy and creativity. The dynamic vision for Jerusalem at 2020 in the transportation, cultural, recreational and business fields being advanced by the city’s mayor, Nir Barkat, is exciting and uplifting.
Let me be even blunter: Israel has developed Jerusalem as a workable, attractive city because it is the centerpiece of the ancient Jewish people and the modern State of Israel. The Arabs and Palestinians, however, don’t really care about Jerusalem; they never did. In fact, they would consider it a triumph if Jerusalem were so wracked by conflict and poverty that it was ruined for 1,000 years – just as long as it would be lost to the Jews.
The sundering of Jerusalem would not only be unfair to Jewish history and to Israel’s fine stewardship of the city, but patently unwise.
Contra-Ramon, it is time to reestablish Zionist momentum in Jerusalem.
The Netanyahu government should act to cement Israel’s hold in the city; to signal the world that it is serious about keeping Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty.
It should wield a big baton against Arab insurgents; energetically exercise jurisdiction in all parts of the city via proactive development budgets and tougher policing, including in the neighborhoods that Ramon would throw to the wolves; and expand the Jerusalem envelope, especially by building in the strategic E-1 quadrant that connects Jerusalem to its eastern security anchor in Ma’aleh Adumim.
These initiatives will engender Palestinian (and American) resistance. Nevertheless, with resoluteness and sensitivity Israel will prevail.www.davidmweinberg.com