FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UNION OF ORTHODOX JEWISH CONGREGATIONS ON PRES. BUSH’S STATEMENT IN JERUSALEM; “THE FATE OF JERUSALEM IS NOT ‘A TOUGH ISSUE'”
Today, in a brief press availability in Jerusalem, President Bush stated the following with regard to the fate of Jerusalem in the context of a renewed push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement:
“I know Jerusalem is a tough issue. 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.”
Orthodox Union president Stephen Savitsky and public policy director Nathan Diament, issued the following statement in reaction to President Bush’s statement:
The Orthodox Jewish community appreciates President Bush’s record of staunch support for Israel’s security and Israel’s character as a Jewish state. The President’s efforts to facilitate a successful peace process between Israelis and Palestinians is to be commended.
However, we must state that, from our perspective, the fate of Jerusalem is not “a tough issue.” Jerusalem was established as the capital of Israel and the Jewish people more than three thousand years ago. It has never served as the capital of any other nation. Jerusalem is the city toward and for which Jews have prayed throughout the millennia. In modern times, it is only since being unified under Israeli sovereignty that Jerusalem has been a secure and free city in which people of all faiths may visit and worship at their holy sites freely and without fear.
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.