Harsh Debate on Tamir?s Green Line Map

The Knesset Education Committee held a harsh debate Monday on whether to return the pre-1967 Green Line demarcation to maps in school textbooks.

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Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 22:08

Education Minister Yuli Tamir, a former founding member of Peace Now, ordered her staff at the beginning of the month to ensure that textbook maps show the pre-1967 borders that separated Judea, Samaria and Gaza from the rest of Israel.

"We teach, for instance, about United Nations Resolution 242, but we don't show students the Green Line. We cannot deny that there used to be a border that is still being debated today," she said in making the announcement on December 5th.

“How can we demand that the Arab world recognize our borders if we don’t recognize the June 1967 borders,” she asked.

The battle lines were drawn even more sharply at Monday’s committee meeting.

“What does she want – that a student in Ramat Eshkol or N'vei Yaakov or Gilo will feel like he lives outside of the border?” asked National Union/National Religious Party chairman and Knesset Member Zevulun Orlev.

“Ladies and gentlemen, that [Green Line] is not our border!” he declared vehemently.

Ultimately, the committee members were not given the option to debate the matter further. Chairman Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad) squashed a motion to freeze action on her decision until there was more time to discuss the issue in depth, and he refused to bring the matter to a vote.

Decisions Don’t Necessarily Mean Action
It is becoming clear that there is a significant difference between issuing an order to change all the maps in school textbooks, and actually having the wherewithal to do so.

According to the director of the Geological Survey of Israel, the Green Line can only be drawn on maps designated as “historic” - because it no longer exists. In an interview on Israel state radio, Dr. Chaim Srabro said the Green Line is only a historic entity, not a political border, despite Tamir’s assertion that it is in fact still being debated.

Former Meretz Party head Yossi Sarid, a former Education Minister, issued a statement two weeks ago in support of Tamir’s decision. "Israeli students must know that Israel's borders both in the north and the east are not final and will be determined by negotiations," he said.

At the same time, National Union MK Rabbi Yitzchak Levy, who served as Education Minister from 1998 to1999, added his voice to the chorus of dissent. Rabbi Levy said he did not approve of Tamir's stance on placing all of Judea and Samaria up for grabs in keeping with Arab and Palestinian Authority demands to turn the entire area into an independent Arab state.

"Tamir is trying to force her political opinions upon the students of Israel," Levy said. "Previous Education Ministers kept the Ministry free of political decisions of this nature."

The most important political test, however, will ultimately appear in the budget, according to Professor Yoram Ben-Gal of Haifa University’s Geography and Environmental Studies Department. Ben-Gal told Haaretz on Tuesday that most textbooks are published by private firms, who are not likely to pay for the expensive change, leaving the government to debate whether it is willing to foot the bill.

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