The Orthodox Union rejected President Bush’s claim that Jerusalem is a “tough issue.”
In summing up his two days in Israel and the Palestinian areas, Bush on Thursday called on the parties to tackle core issues in peace talks, among them the status of Jerusalem.
“I know Jerusalem is a tough issue,” he said. “Both sides have deeply felt political and religious concerns. I fully understand that finding a solution to this issue will be one of the most difficult challenges on the road to peace, but that is the road we have chosen to walk.”
In a response statement, the Orthodox Union praised Bush’s “record of staunch support for Israel’s security and Israel’s character as a Jewish state,” but added “the fate of Jerusalem is not ‘a tough issue.’
“Jerusalem was established as the capital of Israel and the Jewish people more than 3,000 years ago. It has never served as the capital of any other nation,” the statement said. “Jerusalem is the city toward and for which Jews have prayed throughout the millennia.”
It concluded: “What is necessary at this time – and throughout the coming peace negotiations – is a recognition that there is no equivalence between ‘both sides’ when it comes to Jerusalem. The weight of history and destiny tell us that Jerusalem must remain the eternal and indivisible capital of Israel and the Jewish people.”