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Livni Gives Away Northern Jerusalem

Negotiations for Jerusalem continue apace, with a local Jerusalem paper reporting that Foreign Min. Livni has agreed to give away Atarot Airport.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 4/11/2008, 11:57 AM

Negotiations for Jerusalem continue apace, with a local Jerusalem paper reporting that Foreign Minister Livni has agreed to give away Atarot Airport.  Shas says it's still not leaving the government.

The Kol HaZman (All the Time) paper reports that in ongoing secret talks with top Palestinian Authority negotiator Abu Ala, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has agreed, in the name of Israel, to transfer the Atarot airfield in northern Jerusalem to PA control. The paper states it source as "senior Foreign Ministry elements."

The Goal: Strengthen Fatah
Israel apparently recognizes Hamas control in Gaza as permanent, and therefore wishes to strengthen Fatah - perceived as more moderate - in Judea and Samaria. 

Fatah terrorists, members of the organization's Al Aqsa Brigades, have carried out many murderous attacks against Israeli civilians in recent weeks, months and years.  One of the most active terrorist forces in the area, it has been designated terrorist organization by the U.S., the European Union, Canada, and Japan.

Alternatively, it is not clear that the Hamas-takeover scenario will not repeat itself in Judea and Samaria, thus leaving the Atarot Airport in Hamas hands - if Israel in fact relinquishes it.

Mayor is Against
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski is strongly against the loss of Atarot to the terrorists.  His aides said he was "astonished" to hear of the secret agreement, and feels it will be a grave security failure and a significant concession on Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.

"It is inconceivable," the mayor reportedly said, "that while Israeli flights from Atarot have been stopped because of security fears, the threat will now become even more severe, with control of the entire area being given over to the PA."  He warned of the dangers of "hostile airplanes" in the skies of Jerusalem.

Lupoliansky promises he will work even harder to advance his plan to build 10,000 housing units for Jews in Atarot, hoping to thus thwart the plan to give it to the PA.

Jerusalem Municipality officials said the agreement to give away Atarot represents a de-facto recognition of the division of Jerusalem.

Olmert Takes no Responsibility
Staffers in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said, "These are talks being handled by the Foreign Minister, and therefore answers must be received from her."  Livni's press secretary said that the contents of the talks are not meant to be publicized.

Shas Doesn't Budge
Meanwhile, the Shas Party - whose departure from the government coalition would likely lead to the toppling of the government and new elections - continues to stay put.  Relating to a new American initiative to give the PA partial control of Jerusalem for five years, Shas spokesman Ro'i Lachmanovitch told Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine on Thursday that Shas was going nowhere: "We continue to stand behind the stance set by [the party's spiritual leader] Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, which is that the moment Jerusalem is placed on the agenda of the diplomatic talks, Shas will quit the coalition."

A late-breaking development in another sphere may move Shas, however: The sudden decision by the Cabinet secretariat not to discuss the non-enforced chametz law in this Sunday's agenda.  Shas had hoped for quick government action to legislate a change in the law that would enable its enforcement, in light of a recent court ruling allowing chametz to be sold in stores.  Shas MKs are reportedly angered by the decision, and political analysts estimate that Shas may threaten to quit the coalition over it - though this has not yet happened.