Daily Israel Report

Lieberman Under Attack for Statement on Dividing Jerusalem

News Analysis: Right wing spokesmen call Min. Lieberman a "double agent" for changing mind on Jerusalem. Has he really changed his position?
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 10/8/2007, 3:12 AM

Minister for Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman came under heavy fire Sunday from right-wing movements and at least one Knesset member for statements he reportedly made during the weekly cabinet meeting. 

Lieberman was quoted as saying that Israel should transfer some of the neighborhoods and "refugee camps" in the Jerusalem to Arab hands, while adding that "the Old City and Mount Scopus are an inseparable part of Jerusalem."

MK Zevulun Orlev, Chairman of the National Religious Party, said that Lieberman's positions "were reminiscent of Ariel Sharon's U-turn in the Disengagement." Orlev added: "The cat is out of the bag. It is now clear that Lieberman was making 'right-wing noises' just to wink at the nationalist camp and blur the fact that he supported the 'Ramon Plan' for dividing Jerusalem."

The "Jewish Front" movement announced: "We always knew that Lieberman was a Trojan horse within the Right. We will not forget that in the Disengagement, too, he helped Sharon and stayed in the government until the last moment."

"He is just a politician looking for a seat to sit on," the Jewish Front summed up.

'Double agent'
The "Headquarters for Saving Israel" said that Lieberman has been exposed as a" fifth column" within Israel and a double agent, who goes around "making extreme-sounding but irrelevant statements while at the same time helping [ultra-leftist] Peace Now and the Palestinians achieve their aspirations."

The organization went on to call Lieberman "Sharon-compatible" and accuse him of being "operate
MK Zevulun Orlev said that Lieberman's positions "were reminiscent of Ariel Sharon's U-turn in the Disengagement"
d" by others.

Did he really reverse his position?
Has Lieberman really misled and sold out his voters, though? A look at the platform of Yisrael Beiteinu, the party he heads (as it appears on the party's Hebrew language website), would seem to suggest otherwise.

The platform explains that the Arab demographic threat to Israel's Jewish majority is a very real and pressing problem and suggests solving it by carving out of Israel those parts which have an Arab majority in them. On the issue of Jerusalem, the website says that "in order to make regular life possible on the one hand and remove the demographic threat in this complex city on the other, we must understand that the solution is demographic, not geographic."

"Unless there is a partition between the Arab residents of metropolitan Jerusalem and its Jewish residents, Israel will find itself with an additional 200,000 Arab Israelis who will turn Jerusalem into a city with an Arab majority," the platform reads. "Of course, the addition of such a large number of Arabs to Israel has general demographic importance," it adds.

The solution, it says, is "to draw a line in the ground without dividing Jerusalem." All of the Jerusalem neighborhoods with Jewish majorities (like Neve Yaakov, Pisgat Ze’ev, Talpiyot East and Gilo) will stay under “full Israeli sovereignty," according to the platform. "Neighborhoods like Jebel Mukaber, a-Ram and others can go to 'Palestinian sovereignty,'" it adds.

According to the website, sovereignty on the Temple Mount is Israel's, never to be relinquished.