NEW YORK (Oct. 21)
Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem proposed here today that before a final agreement on the status of Jerusalem is reached, Israel make a statement that it is not going to use Arab-owned land for Jewish settlers in Jerusalem and its environs.
Addressing a press luncheon sponsored by the American Jewish Committee at its headquarters, Kollek said there is enough land controlled by Israel to settle some 250,000 people in the next 15 years so that the present population ratio in the city is maintained. It is presently 72 percent Jewish, 22 percent Moslem and six percent Christian.
Kollek also suggested that Israel “formalize and legalize” the actions it has taken so far in Jerusalem on such matters as the education of the Arab population and the question of their citizenship. Arab residents of East Jerusalem may opt for either Israeli or Jordanian citizenship. “I believe that we will be able to solve the problem of Jerusalem,” Kollek said, but reaching a final agreement on its status will be a matter of years. “We need a lot of time for it.”
He said that in his opinion, the issue of Jerusalem should be the last item in negotiations toward a peace settlement between Israel and its Arab neighbors. He said the Arab citizens of Jerusalem are afraid to negotiate openly with the Israeli authorities regarding their status and a solution of the city’s problems because of threats by the Palestine Liberation Organization. But there have been contacts on an unofficial level whereby Israel learns about the problems of the Arabs in Jerusalem, Kollek said.
CRITICAL OF UNESCO, VATICAN
The Mayor was sharply critical of a recent UNESCO resolution condemning Israel for its archaeological excavations in Jerusalem. “We are revealing the (ancient) city and restoring it, he said. He stressed that the excavations unearth relics of many cultures and faiths at various periods and all are treated with equal care and respect by the Israeli authorities.
Kollek said that a Vatican statement, issued June 30, warning Israel not to change the status of Jerusalem; was “disturbing.” He said he did not think the Vatican still wants the internationalization of the city but it would like to have a greater role with respect to the Christian community there.
In that connection, Kollek observed that while the Vatican represents the Roman Catholic church, there are 34 different Christian communities in Jerusalem, the strongest being the Greek and Armenian churches.
Asked what he thought were the prospects of a Palestinian state being established on the West Bank, Kollek said that in his opinion the Arabs themselves “will prevent a Palestinian state” because many Arab countries, especially Jordan, view such a state as a grave threat to themselves.