JERUSALEM, Israel - Despite the 3,000-year-old Jewish connection to Jerusalem, many people -- including some Israelis -- do not fully understand why others, such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, say it should remain the undivided capital of the Jewish state.
On Friday, the Jerusalem chapter of Likud Anglos -- a division of the Likud party geared toward English speakers -- cosponsored the "Greater Jerusalem" tour with Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely. CBN News joined nearly 150 people in a close-up look at some neighborhoods in "east" Jerusalem. The purpose of the outing was to help people understand the dangers of dividing the capital's Jewish and Arab neighborhoods.
For example, the predominantly Arab neighborhood of Shuafat is 90 meters (yards) from the predominately Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev. Issawiya, another Arab neighborhood is 70 meters from Hebrew University on Mount Scopus, and the Arab village of Sur Baher is virtually inside the south Jerusalem -- predominately Jewish neighborhood -- of Talpiot. All these neighborhoods are virtually intertwined. The organizers of the tour said creating artificial borders between them is a recipe for disaster.
Hotovely also spoke of the emotional and historic connection Jews have to Jerusalem.
"How many of you have visited the City of David?" she asked, where so many artifacts dating from Temple times have been found. "The Temple predates Islam, dear people," she said.
Hotovely said Jerusalem is the key issue in negotiations with the Palestinians. "Jerusalem must remain the eternal, undivided capital of the Jewish state," she said.
Rafael Cohen, CEO of Keep Jerusalem, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public on the importance of a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, said his primary task is teach people about the misconceptions and inaccuracies -- often reinforced by the media -- about the nation's capital.
"Jerusalem is our heart, the root of Zionism," Cohen said, "but more and more Israelis think it's an obstacle to peace. Nearly 50 percent have expressed a willingness to divide Jerusalem for peace," he said.
"Division would cause the problem, not alleviate it," Cohen said, noting that the Kotel (Western Wall) is in east Jerusalem. Actually, 50 percent of the city's Jewish residents live in east Jerusalem neighborhoods, Cohen said.
Jerusalem is a city with competing visions. The Palestinian Authority plans to appeal later this year to the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state with "east" Jerusalem as its capital.
But Jerusalem's Mayor Nir Barkat has a far different vision. Nearly a year ago, he said his desire is to restore Jerusalem "to the role it played two and three thousand years ago as a world center -- a destination for pilgrims and believers throughout the world."