Bahai News - Jews, Arabs meet to heal rifts nationwide Thuesday, October 12, 2000

Jews, Arabs meet to heal rifts nationwide

Ha'aretz Staff

Israeli officials and leaders of various Jewish and Arab communities met last night in an attempt to bring about a reconciliation between Jews and Arabs and an end to the sectarian violence that has raged throughout the country for almost two weeks.

l Jerusalem: Chairs of the local Jewish residents committees met with leaders of Arab villages and the heads of the Beit Safafa administration. Participants at the meeting agreed that a good relationship had prevailed between the various communities and that it had to be preserved. The Arab representatives, however, expressed their dismay at the continued deadlock in the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. It was decided to implement a number of joint programs to calm the tensions.

l Tel Aviv: The commander of the Tel Aviv police district commander and soon-to-be national police commissioner, Major General Shlomo Aharonishky, met yesterday with representatives of the Committee for the Advancement of Jaffa Arabs, as well as members of the Tel Aviv city council and leaders of the Arab community. Aharonishky told those present that the police had tried to exercise restraint when dealing with demonstrators, but could not stand by when the law was being flouted before their eyes.

Tel Aviv police did not allow the city's mayor, Ron Huldai, to go ahead with a planned tour of the southern Hatikva neighborhood together with representatives of the Jaffa Arab community, saying that the area was not safe enough. Huldai instead toured the streets of Jaffa, escorted by representatives of the Islamic Council and members of the city council.

l Haifa: A special meeting of 35 of the city's religious leaders met to discuss the recent clashes, under the banner: "We continue together." Among those in attendance were Rabbi Sha'ar-Yishuv Hacohen and Rabbi Shlomo Chelouche, Bishop Boutros Mualem, Sheikh Hassan Asdi, Haifa Mayor Amram Mitzna, representatives of the Druze community and the head of the Bahai community in the city.

l Be'er Sheva: Mayor Yaakov Terner met with the heads of the Negev settlements as well as Bedouin and Jewish community leaders. During the meeting, the Bedouin representatives called for the day-to-day problems to be put to one side and for people to act with more restraint. "We are deprived, but today, we have put this to one side," they said. The head of the Omer local council, Pini Badash, turned to the head of the Tel Sheva council to say: "Today we are together. You are responsible for Tel Sheva and I for Omer. Today, we are all together."

Representatives from all of the local Bedouin councils attended the conciliatory meeting, though a small number of Jewish local council heads were absent.

l Jezreel Valley: Heads of Jewish and Arab councils met yesterday under the auspices of the Jezreel Valley regional council to debate a renewed, joint effort to bridge the divides between the communities that have appeared of late. Also in attendence were Science, Culture and Sport Minister Matan Vilnai, who heads the emergency committee to coordinate government operations in the Arab sector, and other Arab notaries.

©Copyright 2000, Ha'aretz

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