JERUSALEM (Dec. 25)
Mayor Edward Koch of New York, declaring that he was here on “a strictly private visit for pleasure only,” toured East and West Jerusalem in a tourist bus today while Mayor Teddy Kollek, sitting in the front, microphone in hand served as his personal guide. Koch arrived in Israel yesterday after a week’s vocation in Egypt.
He visited child care centers, a fire house –where the two mayors donned fire helmets to pose for television and press photographers –archaeological excavations around the Old City walls and the residence of the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Germanius to convey condolences on the recent death of the Patriarch Benedictus from New York’s 300,000 member Greek community. Last night, Koch attended midnight mass in Bethlehem along with thousands of pilgrims in St. Catherine’s Church. He and Israeli dignitaries were among the 400 guests invited to the service.
Koch wound up his tour today at the City Hall where he drank a toast to united Jerusalem. “Israel should not bow to international pressure, especially pressure from the UN where they would sell their grandmothers,” he told reporters. He said he was sympathetic toward Kollek’s idea of Jewish and Arab boroughs in the Old City so that each ethnic group could run its own affairs. Earlier, Koch planted an olive tree in the Liberty Bell Garden. He asked Kollek to send the olives to New York every year for his cocktails.