Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Though the following may sound incredible, readers are asked to brace themselves because it is true: Talk of a unilateral separation from parts of Jerusalem is once again in the air.

There are those who continue to raise this possibility, despite the sorry results of Israel’s last unilateral withdrawal: a Hamas takeover of Gaza, the tremendous build-up of underground tunnels and rockets that continue to threaten Israel, and four mini-wars Israel has had to wage.


Before we discuss the latest Jerusalem proposal, let us note that many on the dovish side of the political spectrum appear to have an acute need to unilaterally relinquish parts of Israel, no matter where. For a recent example, take well-known journalist and analyst Alon Ben-David, writing for the Institute of National Security Studies.

Ben-David states that Israel can do three things to meet the challenge of what he calls the “terrorist climate” that has descended upon Israel: Improve separation and thus reduce friction between Israelis and Arabs; improve deterrence; and yes, Israel should also “allow full Palestinian control” in northern Samaria and Jericho. For some reason that he does not explain, Ben-David believes that rewarding the terrorists will encourage them to assume a peaceful persona. Hard to understand.

Back to Jerusalem: Former Jerusalem Affairs minister Chaim Ramon, of the Labor and Kadima parties, continues to disseminate his withdrawal plan. It essentially says the Jerusalem Basic Law must be changed, and that many of the Arab-populated areas that were made part of the capital back in 1967 must be stripped from the city. In other words: “Divide Jerusalem.”

Ramon says his plan has three advantages: It will improve security, improve Jewish demographics in the capital, and save money currently used for various benefits granted to the city’s Arab residents.

“Lies!” says Gershon HaCohen, former IDF general whose family is well known in religious-Zionist circles. HaCohen was actually responsible for carrying out the disengagement/expulsion from Gush Katif in 2005. “I was against the withdrawal,” he has since said, “because a homeland must be fought for, not negotiated. However, if I would have refused orders and quit, other religious-Zionist officers would have done the same – and many in the army would have been happy to be rid of us.”

What does HaCohen object to in the Ramon plan? Just about everything, it appears. “Demographically, it’s just a game,” he told KeepJerusalem: “If the problem is numbers, then all we have to do is annex Gush Etzion and Maaleh Adumim to Jerusalem and there will be more Jews. In Gush Katif, too, they told us it was a question of demographics – but that was simply a manipulation. Demographics is not just numbers, but a question of the people who live and work in the vicinity – and this will not change just by changing the map. We have to learn to live together with Arabs; it’s those on the left who are the racists.”

“Security-wise, as well: Right now, it’s true that the police hesitate to enter the Arab areas in question – but that has to stop. We must actively assert our sovereignty. The security situation can only get worse if we transfer these areas to the status of Area C [full Israeli control, yet without full sovereignty]. We’re trying to annex Area C, so why should we transfer out areas that are already ours?”

“In my view of Jerusalem as a metropolis,” HaCohen wrote in a recent treatise for the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, “what will determine Jerusalem’s status is not just what happens within its municipal boundaries, but what happens and will happen in its environs, and its bond with the fabric of the communities encircling it, near and far. This is the essence of the strength of a city…. The fate of Jerusalem as a capital will be determined by the comprehensive system of bonds it maintains with the city’s satellite communities, Jewish and Arab.”

HaCohen has a broader-than-conventional view of world geopolitics, and of the Middle East in particular: “There is no such thing as sovereignty without a sword in hand, or at least in its sheath…. Those who promise Peace Now, or even strive for it, are lying.”

“I once accompanied in the Golan a former head of the German BND [akin to the Mossad], who was also a doctor of theology,” he recounts. “We discussed various matters of faith and Zionism, and at the end he told me confidentially, ‘I would like to warn you: You cannot expect a European-style peace here. Right now in Europe there are no conflicts, and so there is a break in hostilities, which we call peace. But make no mistake: as soon as something serious happens, Europe will once again become a battleground. Here in your area you have a multi-dimensional conflict, with growing populations and a shortage of resources – how can you expect a European-style peace here?’ ”

“This world is one big struggle,” HaCohen says. “Jews in America live easily, because they rely on the armies of others. Here, the Jewish people have come to form their state, on the land promised them by Hashem…. The Talmud states that the Land of Israel is acquired through tribulations.”

It should be remembered that when Israel’s government decided to expand the borders of Jerusalem in 1967, it did so based on many considerations, most of which are still relevant today: It wanted the hills overlooking Jerusalem to be included for security reasons; it wanted to include the Atarot airport in the north, as well as area that could be used for an industrial zone; it wished to include Arab villages so as to prevent the growth of the Arab population in the city; it wished control over the entrances to the city; and more.

Therefore, KeepJerusalem agrees in spirit with Gen. (res.) Gershon HaCohen: The plan to reduce and divide Jerusalem is irresponsible from a security standpoint, goes contrary to the tide of history, seeks to render Jerusalem small and insignificant, and paves the way for further separations, withdrawals, and shrinkage of the Jewish state.


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Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel's minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel is the former senior editor of Arutz-7. For bus tours of the capital, to take part in Jerusalem advocacy efforts or to keep abreast of KeepJerusalem's activities, e-mail [email protected].