The Fight for Jerusalem Begins
The Tourism Ministry will invest NIS 90 million (US $25 million) in tourism projects around the capital, announced Director General Sha'ul Tzemach on Monday.
“The Ministry of Tourism will continue to work to provide an answer for the shortage of hotel rooms in sought-after tourism and commercial areas,” he said.
The ministry’s Investments Committee approved funding for 11 projects, including support for construction of new hotel rooms. Money also will be earmarked for hotels in Ashdod and in the Galilee.
While the Tourism Ministry is working on beefing up facilities to accommodate the flood of tourists visiting the capital, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has quietly been working on ways to reduce the bottom line.
Livni’s Bottom Line - 'Red Lines' for Jerusalem
In her recent talks with Palestinian Authority negotiators, Livni has reportedly drawn the line only at three major points. The status of Jerusalem itself has not been discussed definitely.
The discussions are apparently focusing on the issue of retaining control over holy sites, maintaining security and refusing to allow immigration to Jerusalem by Arabs who fled during the 1948 War and millions of other foreign Arabs who claim to be their descendants under what the Arab League refers to as the so-called “Right of Return.”
Livni shared with visiting evangelical Pastor John Hagee these “red lines” in her latest negotiating sessions with the Palestinian Authority during a rally held by Hagee’s Christians United for Israel (CUFI) organization celebrating Israel’s 60th birthday.
The Christian pastor, who is vehemently opposed to dividing Jerusalem, said that “turning part or all of Jerusalem over to the Palestinians would be tantamount to turning it over to the Taliban.”
Christian Dollars for Jerusalem
Hagee announced at the event, held in Jerusalem, that his group would donate some $6 million to various causes in Israel this year. He added that Israel must retain control over the city.
The Christian pastor, who leads an 18,000-member church based in San Antonio, Texas, has become an increasingly influential force in Israel, as he has in Christian Zionist politics in the US.
Hagee began with two small television licenses 28 years ago as a means of reaching out due to the state’s wide expanses. From there, the growth never stopped.
Eventually he built a global media ministry that became an evangelical powerhouse telecast on eight major networks, 162 independent television stations and 51 radio stations worldwide, broadcasting in more than 190 countries, according to the CUFI website. He is also the author of 21 books, including one called, “Jerusalem Countdown.”
Likud Party Chairman and Knesset Opposition Leader Binyamin Netanyahu praised the group’s support for Israel during his speech at the event Sunday night, saying that Israel has no better friends than Christian Zionists. The friendship between evangelicals and Israel is “a friendship of the heart,” he said.
Reform Jews: "Beware the Christian Zionists"
American Reform Jewish leader Eric Yoffe told the annual conference of the movement’s leaders last Wednesday night that he personally cannot cooperate with Christian Zionists, however.
“What they mean by support of Israel and we mean by support of Israel are two very different things,” Yoffe said in his speech in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Reform Jewish leader charged that aligning with Hagee and other Christian Zionists is harmful because the movement has a political agenda and does not express “unconditional support for the Jewish State.”
The Reform movement objects to the pro-Israel evangelists’ rejection of the two-state solution, which would divide Israel and create a new Arab state within Israel’s current borders.