Pisgat Ze'ev politicians lobby against Ramon plan

Pisgat Ze'ev politicians on Monday sent a protest letter to the country's leaders against a plan to transfer a number of nearby Arab neighborhoods to the Palestinian Authority as part of a final status agreement on Jerusalem. The plan, which has been floated by Vice Premier Haim Ramon, has not received governmental approval. But that didn't stop the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood council from sending both Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak a letter warning them that such a plan endangered their lives. "It's a harsh blow," said Yehiel Levy, who is the administrative head of the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood council. While Pisgat Ze'ev is within the boundaries of the security fence, the safety of the 50,000 Jerusalem residents who live in the city's largest neighborhood requires more than the barrier, said Levy, adding that their lives are more secure if the Arab neighborhoods both inside and outside of the security fence in the vicinity of Pisgat Ze'ev, such as Shuafat and Anata, are under Israel's jurisdiction then if those neighborhoods are given over to the PA. Top in his mind and that of the council's chairman Eli Ben-Homo is the vision of the southern city of Sderot which has been under missile attack from neighboring Hamas. What would happen if Hamas were to take over the West Bank, asked Ben-Homo, stating that then the residents of Pisgat Ze'ev would face that same threat. Even without Hamas, Palestinians living in Beit Jala under the PA shot at residents of the Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood seven years ago, the politicians noted in their letter to Olmert. "We refuse to accept a situation in which our lives will be threatened on a daily basis," they added. The idea of handing these Arab neighborhoods over to the PA was also brought up in 2000 when Barak, who was then prime minister, tried to negotiate a final status solution in Camp David. At the time, the Pisgat Ze'ev council wrote a similar protest letter, Levy said. It received a response from Ariel Sharon, who was then opposition leader. He sent a letter in response stating that he opposed the transfer of these Arab neighborhoods to the PA, said Levy, adding that Olmert should heed Sharon's words, given that he has committed to following in Sharon's footsteps.