Olmert’s office says plan does not obligate prime minister
“The government does not have a majority (to support) Haim Ramon’s opinions on anything to do with Jerusalem,” Pensioners Party Chairman Rafi Eitan said Tuesday following the exposure of the vice premier’s letter calling for the division of Jerusalem and the establishment of joint sovereignty over the city’s holy sites.
“He does not have a majority in Kadima, not in Labor, not in Shas, and not in Yisrael Beitenu, and certainly not with Rafi Eitan,” the minister of pensioner affairs added.
Deputy Prime Minister and Shas Chairman Eli Yishai responded to Ramon’s plan saying, “I strongly oppose Minister Ramon’s initiative. Jerusalem is the city that has been bringing together the Jewish people for thousands of years, and is not a bargaining chip or piece of real estate. Jerusalem is the Jewish people’s right of existence and there is no one who is able to give up that right.”
Shas sources added following the Ynet report that “anyone willing to give up Jerusalem in order to preserve the government will end up discovering that Jerusalem is stronger than any government”.
Two ministers speaking under condition of anonymity said there was no way that Ramon’s initiative would be approved by the government or Knesset in the present situation with the Palestinians. Other ministers reported great unrest among Kadima members following Ramon’s report.
“It seems to be another experimental balloon the prime minister is flying using Ramon. This will not pass quietly in the Kadima council’s political meeting with Olmert on Thursday. He does not have the status to change Kadima’s official platform,” one source said.
‘Kadima will turn into Meretz’
Ramon’s fellow party members also found his ideas disturbing and MK Ze’ev Elkin said he rejected the vice premier’s proposals.
“These kinds of ideas are as far as east and west from the basic original viewpoint that Kadima was built upon by Arik Sharon, and I will do everything in my power, along with many other Kadima members, to stand guard and take care of the city’s future, according to Kadima’s real political platform, the one that was presented to the voter.”
MK Otniel Schneller, also of Kadima, said, “Anyone who dares to propose that Israel be unable to wave Israel’s flag at the Western Wall â€“ will never be able to say that he did not divide Jerusalem.
“His (Ramon’s) plan is completely identical to Meretz’s platform which is based on the Geneva plan. I did hear of any decision of Kadima to join Meretz,” Schneller said, warning that if Ramon’s plan was approved, the party would lose its identity and turn into Meretz.
Ramon’s fellow coalition members, Labor ministers headed by Ehud Barak, preferred not to comment on his letter.
Senior sources from the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem said, “Ramon is a senior minister and vice premier. It is his right and even his duty to express his opinion. This does not obligate the prime minister in any way.”