The massive Jerusalem rally on Monday night left a big impression on the Israeli public, according to the nation's leading Hebrew newspapers, but Shimon Peres on Wednesday declared that no single religion can have a "monopoly" on the holy city.
The mass rally of around 350,000 people, mostly Jews but also including hundreds of Christians, was called to demonstrate current sentiment against a possible division of the city.
MA'ARIV today wrote that those who organized the rally can pat themselves on the back because, "When it is being claimed that the atmosphere on the street is characterized by public apathy, here was a giant demonstration which proved that there are still issues which touch the heart so much that the masses cannot be prevented from gathering." The editorial suggested, "The Israeli Left, which dubbed the event as a 'right-wing protest' has shot itself in the foot." The paper added, "This was one of the most impressive displays of strength that Jerusalem has ever known."
YEDIOT AHRONOT criticized the participation of prominent American Jewish leader Ron Lauder, but lauded both the "exemplary order" at the rally and its planners' "organizing ability." The paper said, "The demonstration drew the masses because it touched on the Jewish people's most exposed nerve."
And HATZOFEH commended the rally's "unprecedented scale" and concluded that, "Ehud Barak will be eternally remembered for having fallen victim to the failures from Oslo and for having expressed his willingness to concede the Temple Mount and considerable parts of Israel's capital." The editorial noted that many secular Israelis attended the rally.
Responding to the rally's message during a visit to India today, former prime minister and leading dove Shimon Peres said that, "While the modern city of Jerusalem can be divided demographically between Israel and the Palestinians, the holy city of Jerusalem will have to be shared religiously."
"The holy city of Jerusalem represents 3,000 years of the Jewish history, 2,000 years of Christian history and 1,400 years of Islamic history," Peres insisted. "We cannot give monopoly to any religion on the holy city. We have to enable every person to pray to Lord in the language he wishes, in the tradition he cherishes."
In a final note on the rally, Israeli police have confirmed that they did not allow participants to form a human chain around the Old City walls as planned, due to opposition from the PLO's Fatah faction. ARUTZ-7 reported the Palestinians demanded that police forbid the human chain between Damascus Gate and Herod's Gate, along the northern wall. In return, Fatah promised that they would prevent Arab rioting and violence during the rally.
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.