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Daily Israel Report

Papal Official Wants to Divide Jerusalem

The Arab League and a Vatican official separately, but simultaneously, are campaigning for Israel to divide Jerusalem. The PA recently asked to the Pope to help make the capital part of a new state.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 12/25/2005, 11:30 AM / Last Update: 12/24/2005, 11:36 PM

The Arab League has joined Palestinian Authority (PA) officials in exploiting Israel's policy of not allowing Arabs in Jerusalem, who are Israeli citizens, to vote in the PA legislative elections scheduled for January 25.

It told the French news agency AFP that the ban would solidify Israel's claim that the entire capital is part of the country. AFP termed the predominantly Arab neighborhoods of the city "occupied east Jerusalem."

The papal representative in Israel, Nazareth native Michael Sabbah, told reporters, "This [partition] wall must not exist. One day it will not exist. The Palestinian people should regain their liberty and land with a state and a capital and the Israeli people should have security."

His statements are in opposition to previous Vatican statements, which have suggested that Jerusalem be established as an international city.

During a recent visit to the Vatican by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Benedict accepted a document granting him unlimited access to Bethlehem, as well as a passport to the city making him "the first citizen of Bethlehem," according to the PA radio network.

Abbas told the Pope, "If we can't hold democratic elections in Jerusalem it will be difficult to do it in the other zones." The Arab League and the PA have seized the issue to put the blame on Israel if the elections are canceled. If Israel backs down and allows Arab Israelis to vote, it would help support the PA demand that the city become the capital of a new Arab state.