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Report: Chief Rabbi says move Gazans to a Palestine in Sinai

Saul Sadka, Haaretz

250mezger_jtn.jpg

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger (File).

January 28, 2008

London - Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger has been quoted as calling for Gazans to be transferred to the Sinai Peninsula, to a Palestinian state which he said could be constructed for them in the desert.

In an interview in English with the British weekly The Jewish News, the chief rabbi also said that while peaceable Muslims should be allowed to pray in Jerusalem mosques, they should recognize that Jerusalem belongs to the Jews. Muslims have Mecca and Medina, he was quoted as saying, adding that "you don't need a third place."

Metzger called for Britain, the European Union and the United States to assist in the construction of a Palestinian state in Egypt's Sinai Desert.

According to Metzger, the plan would be to "take all the poor people from Gaza to move them to a wonderful new modern country with trains buses cars, like in Arizona - we are now in a generation where you can take a desert and build a city. This will be a solution for the poor people - they will have a nice county, and we shall have our country and we shall live in peace."

Metzger was quoted as telling the paper that the plan was new and he had not presented it to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

"I have thought about it with some wise people only in the last two weeks, and I think it is a great idea - nobody spoke about it before." He expressed his intent to discuss the matter with Olmert and anticipated that the idea would find popularity among Israelis. He prefaced his comments by pointing out that he could not advise on political matters as he is a religious leader in Israel, noting that according to the law he "cannot be involved in political situations."

Muslims 'don't need a third place
Metzger also called for Muslims to have the freedom to return to pray in mosques on condition that they do so peaceably: "We will welcome every Palestinian man who wants to pray in his mosque. Every Friday they can come, but with one condition, without violence. We have the same feeling about prayers, we want to give you respect but let us live and believe our land is the Holy Land and Jerusalem belongs to us. You have another place, Mecca and Medina, you don't need a third place."

In the interview Metzger also described Jerusalem as "the capital city forever to the Jewish nation." He argued that Muslims have no connection to Jerusalem commenting that "behind the Kotel we have a mosque. But when they pray even though they are in our holiest place, they face Mecca. Their back is to Jerusalem. So you can see from only one sign that it does not belong to them. They have nothing - no connection."

The tenure of Metzger, 54, appointed as chief rabbi in 2003 for a ten-year term, has been marked by controversy. In 2006 Attorney General Menachem Mazuz called on him to resign his post in a report which alleged that he had accepted discounted hospitality at a number of Israeli hotels - a call that Metzger rejected.

Metzger has also proposed the establishment of a "religious United Nations" comprised of religious leaders from around the world, and was named one of the 12 most influential international religious figures in a recent CBS documentary entitled In God's Name.

Video of the interview is available by clicking here.


:: Article nr. 40594 sent on 28-jan-2008 20:12 ECT

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Link: www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/948907.html



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