JERUSALEM (Jun. 29)
Thousands of Jews poured into Old Jerusalem today for the first time in 19 years while an equal number of Old City Arab residents crossed into the new city for the first time after Israeli workmen completed the task of eliminating all physical barriers between the two sections. Under Government edict, all parts of the reunited city were made accessible today to all residents.
At the same time, the Israeli army relinquished control of the Old City section to civilian police as Israel’s laws and ordinances in the new city were widened to cover the entire municipal territory. Interior Minister Moshe Shapiro transmitted to Mayor Theodore Kollek a new Government order, based on the law approved by Parliament on Tuesday, which formally established the reunited Jerusalem. He also transmitted to the Mayor the new law providing protection for the holy sites, stressing their importance for all three major religions.
The curfew imposed on the Old City since its liberation on June 6, was lifted today. The ban on trade by Israelis in the Old City, in effect since the area was taken, also was lifted. A municipality spokesman said that former Old City municipal employees will be retained on a temporary basis and that later, they will have to ask for permanent status. Former Jordanian policemen also have been retained on a supernumerary status. Their permanent status also will be considered later.
The New City was clearly a surprise to the Arabs visiting from the old section. Often dressed in traditional Arab garb and followed by veiled women, they window shopped and roamed around like tourists. Some of them installed portable tables and began selling oriental food delicacies and other products. In the old section, thousands of Jews walked around, many looking for homes they once lived in, many of which had disappeared during the 19 years of Jordanian control.
A new Jerusalem municipal council, on which Old City inhabitants will be represented, is expected to be functioning within a few days and it was also indicated that the Old City area will soon be linked to the national telephone exchange as part of the New City. The Post office also is opening a number of branches in the Old City section. Old City residents were invited this morning to change their Jordanian currency for Israel pounds, which in three days will be the only legal tender, at a rate of 7.5 Israeli pounds for one Jordanian dinar.