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The International Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem, set to be held August 10, was the subject of a stormy meeting Knesset Interior Committee yesterday.

MK Nissim Zeev (Shas) was the most outspoken critic. "The homosexuals' parade in Jerusalem is a parade of swine on the Temple Mount. It is a parade of filth that is nauseating," he said. "What do you want, to set Jerusalem on fire? Do you want to impose your sexual proclivities on us?"

Meretz MKs Zahava Gal-On and Avshalom Vilan accused Zeev of "incitement," and demanded that he speak in a civil manner.

MK Yaakov Margi (Shas) said: "They haven't decided yet whether homosexuality is an illness or a perversion. 'Pride' is a contemptible quality that must be eliminated."

MK Ibrahim Sarsur (United Arab List-Ta'al) joined the Jewish critics. "In Arab society, we have not encountered such a problem. This is a bad phenomenon that must not be bolstered by granting permission for a provocative parade."

MK Eliahu Gabai (National Union-National Religious Party) said "this is a shame parade, not pride." And MK Shmuel Halpert (United Torah Judaism) asked: "Have we become like Sodom? Let go of this ugliness. It will oust the divine presence."

MK Yitzhak Levy (National Union-NRP) presented a poll that found that 63 percent of Jerusalem's secular residents do not want the parade to take place in the capital.

One of the representatives of The Association of Gay Men, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgender in Israel countered that, "Jerusalem is not yours alone. We haven't come to have sex in the streets."

The religious lobby in the Knesset convened yesterday to discuss petitioning the High Court of Justice against the police's intentions to permit the parade, or holding demonstrations throughout the capital on the day of the parade.

Outside the Knesset, ultra-Orthodox circles launched their campaign against the parade yesterday, although plans to hold it this year in Jerusalem have been known for a while. Haredi leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and the Gerer Rebbe, patrons of the United Torah Judaism party, instructed their MKs to prepare a no-confidence motion against the government for not preventing the parade. The motion is likely not to prevent the parade, but the rabbis' public move is politically significant, because it paves the way for waging an institutional campaign against the event. Leading rabbis ad previously had refrained from commenting publicly on the matter.

Given the rabbis' comments, Haredi politicians have begun to step up their efforts. Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, an envoy of Elyashiv, met with the Vatican's representative this week to issue a joint statement against the "abomination event."

However, Degel Hatorah's newspaper Yated Neeman and Agudat Yisrael's Hamodia will continue to ignore the parade and the campaign against it following a decision made last night. Consequently, all related articles have been shelved.