In the opening shot of the battle for Jerusalem, top rabbis of the Hareidi-religious and Jerusalemite communities have joined Rabbi Avraham Shapira’s final statement against dividing Jerusalem.
A large gathering planned for Sunday at the Ramban Synagogue in the Old City is being organized by Chief Rabbi of the Old City, Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl and Rabbi Eliyahu Medina. Joining the protest is Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, considered the head of the Lithuanian Hareidi-religious public.
The assembly is being called under the banner “Over Jerusalem they cast lots” – a verse from Ovadiah (1:11) – and will include “prayers and supplications to G-d.”
The event will begin after the 12:30 PM afternoon prayer at the synagogue, which is located in the Jewish Quarter’s main square.
Earlier this month, Vice-Premier Chaim Ramon outlined his political plan for dividing Jerusalem, saying: “The Jewish neighborhoods will be recognized by both sides as Israeli neighborhoods under Israeli sovereignty. Likewise, Arab neighborhoods such as Shuafat will be recognized as Palestinian neighborhoods. There will be arrangements to ensure, free, safe passages between the various Israeli neighborhoods and likewise between the Palestinian ones.”
With regard to the Old City, Ramon wrote: “On the matter of the "holy basin" – as the area including the Temple Mount and other holy sites is being referred to – there will be a special authority that will include the expression of Israel’s special interests and manage the holy sites…The Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the other Jewish holy sites in the Jerusalem region will stay in the hands of Israel forever.”
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has refused to comment on the Ramon plan, though commentators compare the situation to when Olmert himself introduced the idea of unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza ahead of then-PM Ariel Sharon’s open adoption of the policy. Ramon is a close friend and political ally of Olmert's.
On the eve of the Sukkot festival, just prior to his passing away, former Chief Rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva of the Merkaz HaRav Kook religious-Zionist center Rabbi Avraham Shapira signed a strongly-worded statement against the plan. “The Land of Israel belongs to the Nation of Israel and was granted to us as an inheritance by the Creator of the world. Neither the Prime Minister nor anybody else has the right to give away areas, or even a grain, of the holy Land of Israel. The entire Land of Israel, according to the borders outlined in the Torah – belonged in the past, and belong in the present and future, only to the Nation of Israel, and it is forbidden by severe Torah prohibition to give up any of the territory of our holy land.”
The rabbi, who had issued a call prior to the Disengagement for soldiers and police to disobey orders to take part in the expulsion, continued: “Did we not learn a lesson from the expulsion of our heroic brethren from Gush Katif and northern Samaria who were uprooted from their homes? We call upon the public to protest against these statements, for the Prime Minister to repudiate them, and to show concern for the rights of the Nation of Israel in its land.”