The Walls Of Yerushalayim
By Shai Gefen
of Mr. Gabby Butboul, founder of Shomrei HaChomos
Gabby Butboul is a graduate of Merkaz HaRav. He studied at Hebrew
University and in Strasbourg, where he studied philosophy. Butboul
is one of the founders of Gesher (Bridge) for talks between the
religious and secular. In the past he served as head of the Karnei
Shomron council in Binyanim and served for a few years as shliach
for Aliya in France. In 1977 he settled in the Jewish Quarter of
the Old City of Yerushalayim.
long ago the Israeli public was under that impression that
Yerushalayim was non-negotiable, trusting Barakís proclamations
that Yerushalayim would remain united forever. Today it has become
clear that, as far as the government is concerned, nothing is
sacred. It has only recently become known that Barak explicitly
agreed to allow an outfitted Palestinian army to enter the Old
City of Yerushalayim, giving at least half of the city to our
residents of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City are beginning to
feel like settlers. Following these shocking revelations that
leaked out of Camp David, the residents of the Old City have
formed an organization called Shomrei HaChomos (Guardians of the
Walls), which has begun an all out campaign to protect the future
Gabby Butboul, a long time resident of the old Jewish Quarter,
heads Shomrei HaChomos. He intends to arouse public opinion and
organize demonstrations together with other organizations in order
to guard the walls of Yerushalayim so that they are not breached
again, this time with the consent of Jews, ríl.
Butboul, is Barak really planning to divide Yerushalayim?
is the actual significance of the offer Barak made to the
Palestinians, thereby capitulating to all their demands. They
never believed that Israel would make such incredible concessions.
What theyíre doing is dividing the Old City in two: Rechov Dovid,
the route to walk to the Kosel, will be the border between the
Palestinian capitol and the State of Israel. The Israeli
government decided to set up a joint Palestinian-Israeli police
force in the Old City like the one in Azza. This collaboration has
never worked before, and everybody knows that this isnít a
simple police force, but a Palestinian army in every sense of the
hard to believe that within the Jewish Quarter of Yerushalayim
there will be armed Palestinian soldiers on patrol. Just imagine
what will happen; any little spark can ignite into a giant
conflagration. The Barak government has crossed all red lines and
is acting utterly irresponsibly ≠ ó and itís all in the name
of saving his political career.
Barak returned from Camp David without an agreement, and even
presented this as proof that he showed toughness.
you serious? Iím telling you, I know that as we speak, teams of
senior Israelis are sitting with Palestinians and are working out
the details on an agreement to divide Yerushalayim. Barak didnít
return from Camp David with an agreement because the Palestinians
know that they can get more and more concessions from the
Israelis. Palestinian documents tout that the Israeliís position
is very weak and they can obtain much more from us. The
Palestinians have patience. They know that during the next round
Ė which the media already announced will take place at the end
of the month Ė they will get much more.
you see the effects of the talks in Camp David here in
situation in Yerushalayim and the Har HaBayis is no secret.
Thereís a battle going on in the Jewish Quarter over the mosque,
which is situated near the Churba of Rí Yehuda HaChassid. One
day Palestinians came to renovate it. They understood that Barak
had given up Yerushalayim, and since then their appetite has only
week ago I saw an Arab couple walking around the Jewish Quarter,
pointing at houses and saying: we lived here and here is where our
uncles lived. They feel that they will be returning to live here
soon. This is a result of Camp David, for the Arabs understand
that a divided Yerushalayim is a done deal.
says that the agreements made at Camp David are not binding.
meaningless. Just today, Abu Ellah, the number two man in the
Palestinian Authority, stated that the new talks will continue
where they left off. I believe him more than Barak. Barak has laid
siege to Yerushalayim. It is painful to see this happening as a
result of one of our own. Barak is misleading the public because a
divided Yerushalayim is a done deal.
are you, residents of the Jewish Quarter, able to do under the
a lot that can be done. However, the most serious and frightening
thing is that Barak will be allowing in an armed Palestinian army,
while at the same time there are orders to disarm the Jewish
residents, preventing us from defending ourselves. There are
people who talk of forming armed militias if, chív, this
goes through. Iím against this, but talk such as this testifies
to the pressure we are under. Itís really scary.
you tried to contact the Prime Minister to discuss this?
wrote to the Prime Minister over three weeks ago and asked him to
meet with representatives of residents of the Old City, ďwho are
concerned by recent reports about your agreement to transfer parts
of the Old City to Palestinian authority,Ē as we wrote in the
letter. Aside from a brief reply, we havenít gotten any answer.
He refuses to meet with us.
you anticipate things being this bad?
at all. We were complacent. There are still residents of the
Jewish Quarter who remain oblivious to whatís going on. Whoever
dreamed that the Old City would be up for negotiations?
you have any other indications as to what Barak plans to do?
Margalit held an interview with the Prime Minister, asking him
whether the reports are true that he plans to allow Arafat to
build his office in the Old City. Barak didnít deny it. In other
words, the Israeli government agrees that Arafat should have an
office, with all that implies, within the Old City. That means
there will be soldiers with machine guns in the area. Barak is
leading us to the third churban, ríl.
why we Jews who live in the Old City are organizing for a joint
battle over this. We formed the Shomrei HaChomos for the purpose
of guarding the city. Yerushalayim will exist because of Jews
living in the Old City and not because of those who live in Kiryat
HaYovel or Rechavia. The Arabs are interested in this territory.
This area is the gateway to Yerushalayim, and from here, to the
entire country. Whoever rules here rules the country and whoever,
G-d forbid, loses or abandons the Old City to our enemies,
abandons the entire country.
could Barak do this, considering that he has a reputation as a
is making irrational and irresponsible decisions. He has no clue
when it comes to security, although he tries to present himself as
knowledgeable in this area. He is bringing a tragedy upon us and
all he cares about is his career.
you are familiar with the map of Yerushalayim, then you realize
that all the neighborhoods on the periphery will border on
Palestinian-ruled territory crawling with armed soldiers. As you
know, most of these neighborhoods are religious ones.
did you start organizing?
week ago, when we began hearing reports from Camp David that Barak
was dividing Yerushalayim, at first we didnít believe it and we
said to ourselves: Would Barak, the security expert with a
glorious military past, do such terrible things? We quickly
discovered it was true. And not only that, but they have been
keeping information from us. I know for a fact that there are
talks going on today about Yerushalayim. Arafatís advisor said
he knows that Israel still hasnít been squeezed for all itís
able to give. Itís really serious.
are you doing about the situation?
have set up a protest booth in the center of the Jewish Quarter
and we distribute literature from there. There are also
activities, gatherings, and petitions against Barakís actions.
you think Barak will sign such an agreement in the end?
order to survive politically, he will do something desperate and
abandon all of Yerushalayim. Thatís what we really fear. So I
say the Right has to join forces with the religious, in order to
wisely assess our options and not play into Barakís hands.
the situation be better with a different government?
afraid that even if the Likud takes over they would continue the
same terrible policies. Itís only the believers, the religious,
the ultra-Orthodox, and the Orthodox-nationalists who will protect
Yerushalayim, because they truly care. The Likud and Labor are the
same. We saw members of Likud at the Oslo Accords, Chevron, and
Wye. The believing public will succeed in stopping this terrible
should people do?
Barakís office with faxes and letters and do not stop protesting
for a moment. Iím very concerned about the summer break in the
Knesset, because it gives Barak an opportunity to go for broke. I
am very concerned about how events will unfold.
has the public response been to your activities?
has been a great response. The question remains, however, where
the people will be on the day of reckoning, when Barak and friends
abandon the very heart of the Holy Land. I tell people: The battle
today is not over keeping every inch of Eretz Yisroel, but over
keeping our very homes; over the very survival of the Jewish
people in their homeland! There are people who have given up the
struggle, claiming it is a lost cause, but I say there is
definitely a good chance to stop the process. We can unify the
public on the issue of Yerushalayim.
many Jewish residents are there in the Old City, as of now?
six thousand Jews.
it true that some Arab residents of the Old City object to the
division of Yerushalayim?
and it has been mentioned in the media. We have Arab neighbors who
are emphatic about not wanting to live under Palestinian Authority
rule, due to its being a dictatorship. The Arab residents are
keenly aware that Palestinian rule in the Old City will not be to
their benefit and will only bring chaos. In our main office we
have two Arabs, one from the Moslem quarter and one from the
would like to issue a call to the public and to Chabad Chassidim
in particular, who know and are aware of the warnings of the Rebbe
about the importance of Yerushalayim and the terrible severity of
splitting the city Ė to join the battle that will tip the scale
in the struggle over Eretz Yisroel. I invite everyone to visit our
protest booth in the center of the Jewish quarter and join our