The Brigham Young University Study Center on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem is safe now from political challenges by fanatic right-wing Hebrew political parties, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir told Rep. Wayne Owens, R-Utah, Wednesday.
The center, which was approved by the Israeli government over heavy opposition from Orthodox Jewish groups, could, however, be jeopardized by Palestinians if they gained authority over the territory where the center is located, Shamir said.Right-wing parties threatened earlier this month to withhold their support from either the Labor or the Likud party if a number of demands were not met, including expulsion of the center being built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the re-definition of who is considered a Jew in a way that could have eliminated most American Jews.
When the Likud and Labor parties, the largest winners of the recent Israeli elections, agreed upon a coalition cabinet, the BYU Center was no longer an issue, an aide to Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, reported after a trip to Israel. Owens confirmed that in his meeting with Shamir. He has been in the Middle East representing the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Shamir told Owens, according to an aide, that negotiations with the Palestinians, being pressed by the U.S. now, could threaten the center if the Palestinians were given sovereignty over the land where the center is located.