Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Letter to the NYRB

NYRB = New York Review of Books.


Amos Elon's characterization of the Hasmonean Tunnel incident in 1996 and Ehud Olmert's role as "recklessly provoking a riot" in connection with it is unfactual and an example of imbalanced writing on the Israel-Arab conflict ("Olmert & Israel: The Change", Volume 55, Number 2, Feb. 14).

In the months leading up to the opening of an exit within an enclosed building thus permitting visitors to enter the existing tunnel near the Western Wall and exit at its northern end, Shimon Peres had granted the Muslim Waqf administration permission in January 1996 to construct an underground mosque at the southern end of the Temple Mount and in exchange, the tunnel would be opened. As early as September 1995, the imminent opening of the tunnel became a matter of public record when it was included in a report of UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor who was informed that a northern doorway leading to the Via Dolorosa would be built in the near future.

Israel scrupulously kept the terms of the arrangement but the Arabs reneged. If there was provocation, it was in the Arab refusal to keep, yet again, to an agreement reached with Israel.

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