Letter: Rights to Jerusalem

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The Independent Online
Sir: Loaded words weigh heavily on Sarah Helms' depiction of Jerusalem ('A holy city, but for whom?', 10 August).

Jerusalem's Old City did not 'remain' Jordanian after 1948; it had never been under Jordan's control. Nor is it appropriate to speak of 'handing back' East Jerusalem to the Palestinians who were never sovereign there. It is not only between 1948 and 1967 that the Palestinians made no attempt to form a capital in Jerusalem. During those 19 years, Jerusalem was terribly neglected, by Jordanians and Palestinians alike, while the Jordanians created their capital in Amman.

But more importantly, no people in history has made Jerusalem their capital ever - even a regional capital - except for the one people for whom it has been their sole political and spiritual centre for 3,000 years, the Jews.

I am first to admit the current situation in Jerusalem is on many counts short of my own hopes and aspirations - which will still be fulfilled - but to label it 'apartheid' is to misunderstand and wilfully obfuscate. Of many refutations, I shall use but one: no law prevents Arabs in Jerusalem from voting.

Many have voted in municipal elections and can vote in national elections if they choose to take Israeli citizenship. If they do not participate fully, it is by their own choice. When words have no meaning, why have newspapers?

What is 'illegal' has been fought in the courts, by myself among others, and is under investigation by Mr Rabin's government. What is 'insidious' is in the eye of the beholder.

Yours truly,





19 August