Israeli Right-Wingers Plan Mass Demonstration to Back Jerusalem Claim
Tens of thousands of Israeli right-wingers were expected to parade in Jerusalem Monday to protest at US proposals for shared sovereignty over the holy city as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians.
Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert of the main right-wing Likud party predicted that 100,000 people would turn up to march by the walls of the Old City shouting: "Jerusalem, I swear to be true."
"It is not a demonstration but a gathering to express our feelings of distress at the dangers which threaten the holy city," Olmert said.
US President Bill Clinton has proposed that Israel and the Palestinians share sovereignty over east Jerusalem, which the Israelis captured in the 1967 Middle East war and promptly annexed.
"The United States have always been in favour of the unity of Jerusalem. Mr. Clinton is the first American president to recommend its division, which is all the more regrettable as he was very sympathetic to Israel during his two terms," Olmert said.
Clinton has also proposed that Israel give up the whole of the Gaza Strip and most of the West Bank, but the Palestinians would have to forego the right of return of refugees who fled what is now the Jewish state on its creation in 1948.
He told a Jewish-American audience here, Clinton said he believed his proposals could pave the way for a comprehensive settlement in the region.
Speaking of his vision of the future of Jerusalem, the president said it must be "an open and undivided city ... with assured freedom of access and worship for all."
The leader of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's Labour Party in parliament, Ophir Pines, meanwhile told public radio that Monday's march was "strictly political and linked to the election campaign."
Barak faces Likud leader Ariel Sharon on February 6 for elections for the office of prime minister which he is tipped to lose heavily.
According to Israeli media reports Olmert is to speak at the march as well as American Jewish leader Ron Lauder, who has close ties with former right-wing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- JERUSALEM (AFP)
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