Sharon’s Move to Muslim Area Brings Call for Strike, Protests
Israeli Trade Minister Ariel Sharon’s move to a new home in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem prompted Palestinian activists to call today for a commercial strike and Jewish peace activists to announce protests.
The hawkish Sharon, a former defense minister, will celebrate the start of the eight-day Jewish Hanukkah festival with a housewarming party to demonstrate his belief that an increased Jewish presence in Arab areas will prevent Palestinian attacks on Israelis.
But Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, after turning down an invitation to the party, told Sharon his move would only increase tensions between Arabs and Jews.
State radio said 600 police will be on alert tonight in Jerusalem’s Old City during a traditional candle-lighting ceremony at the Wailing Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, and to secure the area near Sharon’s new home.
Leaflets of Palestinian nationalists urged Arab shopkeepers to close their stores in anger over the move by Sharon, who believes Israel should annex the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israel’s Peace Now movement planned to stage a vigil outside the Old City walls against Sharon’s new rented apartment if police refuse their request to protest nearby.
The head of the neighboring Muslim Religious Council, Hashem Asha’er, called Sharon’s action “indecent and immoral . . . a provocation and shows lack of concern for the feelings of Muslims.”