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June 18, 2000

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Subject: [BPR] - Solving the puzzle in the Old City
Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2000 09:17:31 -0400

Sunday, June 18, 2000

Solving the puzzle in the Old City

Unofficial talks between Israelis and Palestinians on the future status of
Jerusalem, particularly the Temple Mount, are providing alternatives to a
status quo that no one respects anymore

                  By Nadav Shragai

Two weeks ago, public figures representing a wide political spectrum
gathered for an extraordinary event. Shimon Peres and Ehud Olmert, Shaul
Mofaz and Ariel Sharon, Meir Shamgar and Chief Rabbi Lau stood each in
turn and read from the poetry of Uri Zvi Greenberg. They spoke about the
poet and his legacy and recalled Greenberg's first speech in the Knesset,
which he dedicated to the divided Jerusalem. Greenberg, who was an MK for
the Herut party - the forerunner of the Likud - stressed the fact that the name
Jerusalem referred to Jerusalem within the walls, "where the Temple Mount
is located," and the part that is beyond the walls is referred to as the area
that is merely adjacent to the city. Other public leaders and scholars also
distinguished between the Old City, in which the Temple Mount and other
holy area are found, and the other parts of Jerusalem.Adnan Abu Ouda, the
chief of staff of the court of Jordan and close associate of the late King
Hussein, proposed as early as April 1992 that Jerusalem within the walls be
removed from all political sovereignty and that it be considered a holy site, to
be administered by a joint council made up of Jews, Muslims and Christians.
"There must be a clear distinction between the Old City within the walls, on
the one hand, and the areas outside the walls, on the other," wrote Ouda. "..
The main holy sites of the three religions are clearly delineated, distinct and
well known: the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the Christians, the Western
Wall for the Jews and the Temple Mount for the Muslims... The genuine and
holy Jerusalem should not belong to any country or any religion. It should
belong to the whole world and to the three religions, so that no country
retains political sovereignty over it..." Abu Ouda went as far as to propose
that the display of any national flag at all within the walls of the Old City be

In the many meetings between Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein, the term
"God's sovereignty" was repeatedly used. Rabbi Menahem Fruman, a fervent
supporter of interreligious dialogue, has for a number of years urged that the
holy sites be defined as devoid of sovereignty and that they be placed under
exclusively religious administration. Fruman is convinced that he has
partners to this idea, even among Hamas. Ruth Lapidot, a professor of
international law, has also suggested that the sovereignty of the Old City be
suspended for an agreed-upon period, for up to 20 or 30 years, and that the
area be considered as one without sovereignty. Lapidot suggests that the
authority over that area be split: according to territory, religion, personnel and

The Old City is not large - only 871 dunam (218 acres) - and in addition to
the holy sites, dozens of other holy places, synagogues, mosques,
churches and monasteries can be found in the city and its environs (the Old
City basin). Even the designation of a site as "holy" is ambiguous and is not
officially anchored in law. About 210 dunams (52.5 acres) belong to the Waqf
(Muslim religious trust), another 250 dunams (62.5 acres) is of Christian
ownership - churches and monasteries, about 170 (42.5 acres) dunams
belong to the state and another 240 (60 acres) is privately owned, mostly by

In late 1998, 32,488 people lived in the Old City, of which about 70 percent
were Muslim, about 20 percent Christians of various denominations and 8.5
percent Jews. The density of housing in the Old City is among the highest in
Jerusalem and the standard of living is among the lowest in the city. Crime,
poverty and drugs are widespread. Like in the other parts of East Jerusalem,
there is a jungle of illegal construction, especially injurious to an area such
as the Old City. Frequently, this construction destroys and changes the
fabric of sites recommended for preservation. Such construction can be
found in cellars, courtyards and in any imaginable place in order to meet the
needs of the constantly growing population, and it is carried out by private
individuals as well as by Christian and Muslim religious institutions. The Old
City is also a major religious center for citizens of the Israel and inhabitants
of the territories, and of course a magnet for tourists from all over the world.

The Israeli contingency plans for the final status settlement, in the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, the prime minister's office and in the IDF general staff
designate most of the Old City as an area enjoying a special status. Some
view the city as having Israeli sovereignty in the future too, while others view
it has having shared sovereignty, especially with the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, no understanding has been reached with the Palestinians
concerning the status of the Old City. The suggested alternatives, which are
elaborated upon in great detail in various papers, are as follows: the
designation of the Old City as a holy area, in which an administration made
up of representatives of all the religions, the residents, the government and
the Arab world would be established; an administration shared by
representatives of all the quarters and religions; a division into a Jewish and
Armenian administration and a Christian and Muslim administration, so that
the Jewish and Armenian quarters would become part of the administration of
the city center and the Christian and Muslim quarters part of the Sheikh
Jarah administration; the establishment of a municipal corporation with
representatives from each quarter; joining up with the administrative districts
outside the walls, which would provide the Old City with community services;
declaring the entire Old City as a national park; a dual level structure -
representatives of the quarter would sit on a general steering committee for
the Old City; another type of dual level structure - separate quarter
administrations with a shared spiritual administration.

Israel is also willing to accept a political compromise on the Temple Mount,
the site with the greatest potential for interreligious and interdenominational
friction in Jerusalem, and perhaps in the entire world. Israel's willingness to
reach a compromise is based on its recognition of the status quo. Israel is
not the only landlord on the Temple Mount. Back in 1967, Moshe Dayan
gave control of the site, the third most important site to Islam, over to the
Waqf, firmly fixing the principle of freedom of access to all religious to the
Temple Mount, but forbidding Jewish prayer or ritual on the site where the
Jewish people's two Holy Temples once stood.

Dayan formulated a status quo on the Temple Mount, based on an aspiration
to shield it from the forces of nationalism. He hoped that the Israeli-Arab
conflict would remain on a national territorial level and that the potential for a
conflict between Judaism and Islam could be eliminated. However, in recent
years, there has been an erosion of the status quo by varied means, to the
detriment of the Jewish side. In many respects, the Temple Mount has
become exterritorial to the Israeli authorities, and Israeli sovereignty at the
sight often appears virtual at best.

In accordance with decisions by the Israeli government (all governments),
Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount is forbidden. But even though the High
Court of Justice does not forbid prayer by individuals on the Temple Mount as
long as their behavior does not involve any provocation, the police prevent
such prayers from taking place. The police do not permit the entry of any
Jewish religious artifacts to the Temple Mount, such as a prayer shawl or
phylacteries, or even a Bible, prayer book, Book of Psalms or Jewish
textbooks even resembling prayer books. The right of free access is not
preserved as it was in the past either. Jews who appear to be religious or
ultra-Orthodox are scrutinized very closely and are automatically suspected
of planning to violate the prohibition against prayer by Jews at the site. While
they may be allowed entry into the site, they are constantly accompanied on
the Temple Mount by a police officer or Waqf representative.

Israeli law concerning the Temple Mount has in recent years become no
more than a dead letter in its law books. While the High Court of Justice in
fact ruled in 1996 that the planning, construction and antiquities laws apply
to the Temple Mount, as do all the other laws of the State of Israel, this
ruling is hardly apparent on the ground. The Waqf has not asked the city of
Jerusalem in the past for building permits as required by law, nor does it do
so in the present. Moreover, in recent years the number of cases in which
the Waqf has exempted itself from unofficially coordinating its actions with
the police are on the rise.

Last Tuesday, the police prevented the director of the supervision department
in the Jerusalem municipality, Yisrael Ben Ari, from entering the Temple
Mount, for procedural reasons, they claim. Ben Ari heard about two new
brick buildings that the Waqf was constructing on the eastern part of the
mount and he wanted to document the violation.

But the most blatant violation of the status quo on the mount so far since
1967 is the preparation the area known as Solomon's Stable for the
construction of a mosque - the third on the Temple Mount and the first for the
last thousand years. In addition, the huge underground area under the Al
Aqsa mosque, known as "Ancient Al Aqsa," has been cleared for prayer.
The fate of these two sites is currently under the influence of the Israeli
Islamic Movement, which played a dominant role in the new construction.
Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Haim Ramon is of the view that everything that
has happened on the Temple Mount during the term of this government is the
result of the shattering of the status quo by the Netanyahu government,
forced as it was to accept the new construction because of the events
surrounding the opening of the Hasmonean Tunnel.

Even the Antiquities Authority, which in the past supervised various works
done on the mount, has kept its distance from it in recent years. Since the
Hasmonean Tunnel riots, the Waqf has not permitted Antiquities Authorities
official to tour the mount. Sometimes, they are forced to masquerade as
Arabs in order to gain entry to the sites to which the Waqf has barred their
entry. Even today, state declarations in court notwithstanding, the
supervision of the Antiquities Authority on the mount is slack. It is dependent
on the cooperation of the Waqf, which Minister Ramon defines as only

Four months ago, the Waqf made a mockery of the laws of the State of
Israel. Waqf officials requested and received a permit to open an emergency
exit in the new mosque in Solomon's Stables. In fact, the Waqf tried to break
through four of the underground arches in the northern part of Solomon's
Stables. To do so, it dug a huge hole 60 meters long and 25 meters wide in
the earth of the Temple Mount. For the first time since 1967, a fleet of
dozens of bulldozers and trucks was put to work on the Temple Mount, and
6,000 tons of earth from the mount was dug up and removed. Some of it was
scattered at dumpsites. Some was dumped in the channel of the Kidron
River. Antiquities dating back to a number of periods were tossed on garbage
heaps. The Antiquities Authority managed to salvage but a small part of all
these treasures.

The director of the Antiquities Authority, Amir Drori, called this an
"archeological crime." Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein termed it
"kicking the history of the Jewish people." The "emergency exit" in fact
proved to be a "monumental entry gate," in the words of Police Commander
Yair Yitzhaki of the Jerusalem district.

The latest news from the Temple Mount shows that the area along the
eastern wall of the Temple Mount, between Mercy (Golden) Gate and the
arches the Waqf built on the northern side again looks like an enormous
construction site, filled with bulldozers, trucks, paving material, scaffolding.
And coins from the Temple Mount are on sale in the black market for

In addition, security officials have recently passed on a detailed report to the
political echelons concerning the plans of the Waqf and Israeli Islamic
Movement for the Temple Mount. Some of these plans are known to the
political echelons because the Waqf has asked for permits to carry them
out, but some are not. The most disturbing information concerns a master
plan, in which the Israeli Islamic Movement is involved, to erect yet a fourth
mosque on the Temple Mount, along the eastern wall, a smaller version of
the Ka'aba mosque in Mecca. The other plans include replacing the door of
the Mugrabi gate with an iron gate and digging in the area nearby; digging in
an extensive area along the eastern wall of the Temple Mount, digging in the
area above the hand-washing facility in the area of Bab Al Houta; digging on
the slope leading to the new gates constructed in Solomon's Stable to
prevent the seepage of rainwater into the mosque and replacement of the old
entrance into Solomon's Stables, from the direction of the Al Aqsa mosque,
turning it into an emergency exit, after the new gate has been turned into the
main entrance. If the Waqf carries out all these plans, the face of the mount
will be completely changed, to say nothing of the irreversible damage to the
antiquities on the site.

Two weeks ago, 200 persons from the full range of Israel's political spectrum
published an open letter to the prime minister, appealing to him to prevent
the destruction of antiquities on the Temple Mount. For one moment, Teddy
Kolleck, Ehud Olmert, MKs from the National Religious Party and Meretz,
writers from the right and the left united on a subject over which it is usually
difficult to garner a consensus in Israeli society - the Temple Mount. "This
archeological crime," the letter concerning the events in recent months on
the mount, "is intolerable to any cultured person, regardless of his or her
political identity or ideological position, and we oppose it, just as this type of
systematic destruction would be unthinkable at any similarly important site
in the world, such as the Acropolis in Athens or the Forum in Rome."

The security on the Temple Mount is no longer the exclusive bailiwick of the
Israeli authorities either. The police maintain a presence located on the site,
and the Shin Bet is active there too, so are the security mechanisms of the
Palestinian Authority. Sometimes, Israel makes an unofficial appeal to the
members of the Palestinian security forces on the mount in order to achieve
peace and quiet and to prevent riots on Palestinian memorial days or on
other sensitive dates.

The Palestinians behave as if the Temple Mount has already been officially
handed over to them. Ministers in the government suggest that the current
status quo on the Temple Mount be formally anchored in the final status
settlement and to allow the Palestinians to fly their flag on their mosques.
The overall security responsibility on the mountain, which in the past was the
target of Israeli right-wing extremists, would remain in Israeli hands. For the
time being, Prime Minister Ehud Barak has rejected these ideas. Israel's two
chief rabbis requested during the term of Yitzhak Rabin's government that all
agreements concerning the Temple Mount be coordinated with them, in view
of the fact that it is the site most holy to Judaism.

Legal expert Dr. Shmuel Berkowitz, in a new book, "Wars on the Holy
Sites," soon to be published, makes an interesting suggestion. Berkowitz
suggests that the area of the mosques on the Temple Mount be granted the
status of a Palestinian diplomatic legation and to designate the Temple
Mount as the domicile of this legation. He notes that the territory of a
diplomatic legation is not subject to the sovereignty of the country of origin,
meaning that it is not extraterritorial. As a result, the Palestinians could be
given a sovereign status on the Temple Mount without any part of it being
transferred to foreign sovereignty.

In addition to questions involving the legal status and the flag issue on the
Temple Mount, the Israeli teams are also looking for ways to officially include
the Palestinians in the security arrangements in the Old City and the Temple
Mount. According to a plan currently being examined in the Prime Minister's
Office, Israel, by means of the IDF, the Border Police and the Police
Department, will be responsible for the protection, security and policing of
the Old City and the Temple Mount. The Palestinians, however, would recruit
Palestinians carrying Israeli-Jerusalem identity cards who would work for
them in the Old City. Additionally, a mechanism for cooperation and
coordination with Palestinian security forces active in the area would be
established. Another proposal: to include the Palestinians in the community
policing efforts and the tourist police.

On the Temple Mount, the plan proposes that after the final status
settlement is signed, Palestinian police officers would act within the Temple
Mount compound alongside and instead of Waqf officials, under the
responsibility of the Israeli Police. The external security circle, i.e. the walls
of the compound, would be under combined Israeli-Palestinian security

The reality in Jerusalem and the possible alternatives for a settlement in the
city enumerated in this article, are being discussed mainly in the unofficial
channels between the Israelis and the Palestinians. There are deep
disagreements between the sides, but not as much as in the past. If no
agreement is reached, there will probably be an interim agreement but not a
final status settlement.

The solutions currently being sketched out by politicians for Jerusalem are
diplomatic ones. That is their advantage, but it is also their handicap,
because Jerusalem is also part of an intense religious conflict. Islam
considers Israeli rule of the city as something that defiles the Muslim nature
of the city. The religious Orthodox Jewish establishment also has halakhic
reservations concerning the Arab presence in the city. The secular Arab
leadership draws the legitimacy for its struggle over Jerusalem from Islam,
and the Israeli leadership bases its arguments for the city on Jewish
tradition. It may, therefore, be a good idea to include moderate religious
figures from both sides, alongside the politicians, in the negotiations on
Jerusalem, in order to establish a stable settlement in the city

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To: (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - Islamic Movement planning 4th mosque for Temple Mount
Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2000 09:20:31 -0400

Sunday, June 18, 2000

Islamic Movement planning 4th mosque for Temple Mount

                  By Nadav Shragai
                  Ha'aretz Correspondent

The Islamic Movement in Israel has a master plan to build a fourth mosque
on the eastern side of the Temple Mount, according to a detailed report
prepared by security officials concerning how the Waqf (Islamic religious
trust) and the Islamic Movement envision the holy site. The construction of
the mosque is a long-term plan which is currently only in the discussion
stage, unlike the other plans outlined in the report.

Raid Salah, one of the heads of the Islamic Movement, told Ha'aretz that the
entire area of the Temple Mount is an inseparable and integral part of the Al
Aqsa Mosque. Salah denied the movement's intentions to build a fourth
mosque on the site.

The plans of the Waqf and the Islamic Movement for the Temple Mount
include replacing the door of the Mugrabi gate with an iron gate and digging
in the area nearby; digging in an extensive area along the eastern wall of the
Temple Mount, digging in the area above the hand-washing facility in the area
of Bab Al Houta; digging on the slope leading to the new gates constructed
in Solomon's Stables to prevent the seepage of rainwater into the mosque;
and replacing the old entrance into Solomon's Stables, from the direction of
the Al Aqsa mosque, turning it into an emergency exit, after the new gate
has been turned into the main entrance.

The Committee for the Prevention of Damage to Antiquities on the Temple
Mount - a non-partisan body comprised of members representing a range of
political views - is calling on the prime minister to order the Waqf and heads
of the Muslim community to declare a freeze on the current situation of the
Temple Mount and define a new status quo.

In a statement published Friday by the group, the organization said that if the
Waqf carries out all its plans for the holy site, the face of the mount will be
completely altered, let alone the damage caused to antiquities at the site.

The body wants a permanent inspector from the Antiquities Authority
stationed at the site and an end to building materials being brought onto the
mount and soil being dug out of it. In addition, the organization demands that
the site be opened and freely available to the Israeli and international media
so as to "prevent the Waqf from hiding information on the going-ons at the

Jerusalem police commander Yair Yitzhaki told the Knesset Education
Committee a few months back that the Waqf has six separate building plans
prepared for the Temple Mount, but refused to go into details.

An appeal to the District Court by Yehuda Etzion of the Hai Vekayam
movement that demanded the Waqf reveal their plans for the site on the
basis of the Freedom of Information Act met with the state's refusal since the
information was considered secret. The court is yet to decide whether to
force the government to publish the Waqf's blueprints.

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To: (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - Pope John Paul II invited to visit two Koreas
Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2000 09:28:59 -0400

Pope John Paul II invited to visit two Koreas

Copyright 2000 by Agence France-Presse

VATICAN CITY, June 17 (AFP) - Pope John Paul II has been formally invited
to visit North and South Korea, which held a landmark summit earlier this
week, the Vatican press office said Saturday.

The invitation was handed over to the top Vatican foreign affairs official, Jean-
Louis Tauran, by South Korean Ambassador Yong Il Bae, the Vatican said,
but gave no immediate reaction from the 80-year-old pontiff.

On Friday, South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung, who is a devout Roman
Catholic, announced that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il had agreed to
invite the pope to his reclusive Stalinist state.

Kim Dae-Jung said he had raised the prospect during the groundbreaking
summit in Pyongyang earlier this week, and quoted Kim Jong-Il as replying:
"OK, then tell the pope to come."

During the June 13-15 Pyongyang summit, Kim Jong-Il asked Kim Dae-Jung,
"How old is the Pope now?" and then gave his assent, a presidential
spokesman in Seoul said on Friday.

Italy's Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said the pope was "available for a visit
to North Korea as well as China" and described the prospect of such a
landmark visit as "high."

However Dini insisted it was impossible to say when such a papal trip could
take place.

On Friday the director of the Vatican's press agency Fides, Father Bernardo
Cervellera, asserted a trip to North Korea could only take place if "certain
preconditions" relating to easing religious restrictions were met.

According to Cervellera, who has spent several years working in Asia and is
considered an expert on the Catholic Church in Asia, preconditions would
include North Korea's recognition of the Catholic church, and the reopening
of the country to Catholic priests.

He said a key first step toward a papal visit would be for the North to invite
Seoul's Archbishop Nicholas Cheong, who is responsible for Pyongyang but
forbidden from visiting.

The pope has twice visited South Korea, in 1984 and 1989, and in March the
South Korean president was received by the pope during a visit to the

Kim Dae-Jung later said during that audience he had sought the pope's
opinion about such a possibility, according to Kim's spokesman.

The pope welcomed the idea, saying "it would be a miracle," the spokesman

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To: (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - Pope John Paul II to visit Turkey next year "if I'm still alive"
Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2000 09:35:21 -0400

Pope John Paul II to visit Turkey next year "if I'm still alive"

Copyright 2000 by Agence France-Presse

VATICAN CITY, June 16 (AFP) - Pope John Paul II will take up an invitation
to visit Turkey next year, if humanly possible, the Turkish ambassador to the
Vatican, Altan Guven, told AFP Friday.

"We will see next year, if I am still alive," the 80-year-old pope told Guven
during an audience at the Vatican, in repsonse to an invitation extended by
the Grand Mufti Nuri Yilmaz, Turkey's religious leader.

The pope had originally been invited to visit Turkey, a predominantly Muslim
country, by former president Suleyman Demiral two years ago.

Guzen said no mention was made during the audience of Mehmet Ali Agca,
the Turk who was given an Italian presidential pardon Tuesday for attempting
to kill the pontiff in 1981.

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To: (BPR Mailing List)
Subject: [BPR] - Border with U.S. 'likely to disappear'
Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2000 11:29:18 -0500

Saturday 17 June 2000

Border with U.S. 'likely to disappear'
North America urged to integrate immigration, customs and security
Jim Bronskill and Mike Blanchfield

WASHINGTON -- An American think-tank is calling on Canada,
the United States and Mexico to combine customs,
immigration and security functions to the point at which
borders become almost irrelevant.

A study released yesterday by the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace urges the three countries to explore
whether a North American "integration project" is worth
pursuing and to develop a strategic plan for rethinking
border relationships.

A decision to proceed would trigger bilateral negotiations
with the aim of agreeing on the border relationship each
pair of neighbouring countries wishes to see in 10 or 15

"For the U.S.-Canada border, this means ever closer and
organic co-operation, an ever more explicit focus on
understanding and addressing differences and ever greater
experimentation," says the study, prepared by the
endowment's International Migration Policy Program.

"It is in fact our contention that, substantively at
least, the U.S.-Canada border is likely to disappear before
any politician finds the political courage to negotiate its

The study's authors, Demetrios Papademetriou and Deborah
Waller Meyers, spent two years researching the issues,
paying special attention to life in border communities.

The study acknowledges the sensitivities around fostering
closer ties between sovereign countries and insists the
proposals would not lead to the creation of a new political
entity, nor a continental capital akin to Brussels in the
European Community.

It also stresses that stronger border co-operation would
not unduly affect areas the partners consider "nearly
sacred" -- such as issues of identity and, in Canada's
case, a tradition of government-sponsored social programs.

Canadian and U.S. leaders see more effective border
management as a pressing issue, insisted Martha Nixon, a
senior Immigration Department official who attended a
Washington conference yesterday to discuss the report's

"They have asked us to make this a much more strategically
focused piece of business, so I think it's clear this is a

The authors say continental integration is based on a
vision that imagines the NAFTA borders gradually "becoming
irrelevant to the point where their abolition could proceed
without any real compromise" in any of the priorities of
each partner.

Meyers said the rapid growth in commerce between the
countries demands a forward-looking approach to ensure
border systems can handle the flow of goods and people.

"Maybe things aren't collapsing yet, but they will if we
don't do anything," she said in an interview.

Among the authors' ideas:

-One partner conduct all inspections and tariff
collections on behalf of the other two countries when cargo
enters NAFTA space, eliminating the need to repeat
procedures at each border. A similar system could be
implemented by immigration services to deal with people
crossing borders.

-Canada and the United States, initially, agree to a
common visa regime for the widest band of countries

-Canada and the United States gradually liberalize the
movement of each other's citizens, building on the
treatment each now offers one another's professionals under
the NAFTA agreement.

The authors believe the proposals could enhance protection
against illegal activities such as terrorism and drug-
smuggling, improve economic prosperity and insulate each
country from "political ups and downs" that affect vital
interests. For instance, some U.S. politicians have been
pushing for stricter border controls that would, in turn,
hurt businesses.

The study says U.S. interest in the integration project is
"likely to be tepid" unless the proposals can help
Washington accomplish its own goals less expensively, more
efficiently and much more effectively.

Nixon, an assistant deputy minister with Canada's
Immigration Department, does not believe the sort of
changes outlined in the report would water down sovereignty
or lead to erasure of the border.

"I think we can do a whole lot without sacrificing or
challenging our identity at all."

She pointed to a pilot project that will allow people
crossing the Bluewater Bridge at the Canada-U.S. border
near Sarnia, Ont., to fill out forms at just one stop
instead of two.

"Why do we have two places to go to?" she asked. "Why
don't we have one pass between two countries?"


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