Ronen Medzini | YNet News
17 August 2009
Dozens of right- and left-wing activists gathered outside the Shepherd Hotel, site of a disputed planned Jewish housing project in east Jerusalem, to demonstrate in favor of their two sides of the issue. The planned building on the site evoked angry responses last month from the American administration.
The left-wing protestors gathered under the auspices of the Peace Now movement. The right-wing protestors were joined by rightist Knesset members. The two camps hurled insults at one another. Each side called the other “provocateurs.”
The right-wing activists held signs calling Obama “racist” and accusing Peace Now of encouraging terrorism. The left-wing activists slammed the rightist camp as “fascists.”
The protestors gathered as US Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee arrived at the hotel for dinner with Knesset members, including Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), Uri Ariel (National Union), Michael Ben Ari (National Union), and David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu).
MK Arie, whol took part in the right-wing protest outside the hotel, said, “No one will stop this tune. We build and will continue to build in Jerusalem. Whoever wants can protest, but Jerusalem is united. All in all, some 300,000 Jews live today in the east of the city. The Americans don’t want to recognize Gilo, the Western Wall, or the Temple Mount either. They can express their opinion, but ultimately this is our capital city.”
MK Michael Ben Ari added, “Jerusalem is Jewish for all eternity. Our message is unequivocal – Zionism continues to be on the up rise. We praise Huckabee for joining support of our return to Jerusalem. Peace Now members can curse as much as they want, but it won’t work. Zionism will grow and will influence all of the Land of Israel.”
From the leftist camp, Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer said, “We came to say loud and clear that settlement in east Jerusalem is not Obama’s or Europe’s problem, but is the Israeli public’s problem. We must be outraged at the attempt to make Jerusalem indivisible and unsolvable. We came to protest against this and the settlers’ provocations. The hotel is only one step along the way towards their larger plan of commandeering other neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. Our demonstration is against the overall policy.”
Members from the center of the political map also showed up to protest. MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) said, “Jerusalem is not left and is not right. It belongs to generations past and the generations to come. What I and Kadima represent is a bid to extend our hand to both sides. A controversy can’t be formed over building in Jerusalem in these places. This is the opinion of Kadima. Such is also written in our platform – Jerusalem is unified. The Israeli public and the Americans need to know that there will be no controversy surrounding Jerusalem.”
Huckabee said earlier Monday that the Obama administration was too harsh with Israel on the settlement issue. During a tour of east Jerusalem, he said, “It concerns me when there are some in the United States who would want to tell Israel that it cannot allow people to live in their own country, wherever they want.”