Peres in Acre: We Have Many Religions, but One Set of Laws

Religious leaders, police and politicians meet in Acre in efforts to quell the recent Arab-Jewish violence.

President Shimon Peres arrived in Acre on Monday, after clashes between the city's Arab and Jewish populations raged for several days, to attend a Muslim-Jewish conference, during which he called for an end to violence, saying "though there are several religions in Israel, there is only one law and one police."

Those in attendance discussed the recent events in the mixed Jewish-Arab city, located in northern Israel, and agreed that a joint statement condemning the violence must be issued by both the Jewish and Muslim representatives.

During the meeting Peres encouraged Acre leaders not to use harsh or extreme words but rather to promote appeasement. "We must be careful with every word, for words can be deadly," he said.

The meet was attended by Israel's chief rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yonah Metzger, Acre's chief rabbi Yosef Yashar, Sheikh Samir Aasi, the imam of the Al-Jazr mosque who is considered the most senior Muslim authority in the city, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, Police Commissioner David Cohen and senior northern district police officials, Acre Mayor Shimon Lankri and MKs Abbas Zakour (Ra'am Ta'al) and David Azoulay (Shas).

At the end of the meet, Peres concluded together with the religious figures that a forum will be established to immediately encourage dialogue in the city and calm the spirits in efforts to maintain peace. Peres stressed the need for mutual respect.

"Nobody wants the Muslims to be Jewish and the Jews to be Muslim, but in Israel the law must be respected. There is one law and one police."

Dichter said at the meet that the police intends to continue operating in the city and will prosecute those who instigated violence on both sides.

The police commissioner said that the police force currently deployed in Acre, comprising 500 officers during the day and 700 at night, will continue to patrol the points of friction between the two populations throughout the Sukkot holiday, which was to begin at sundown Monday and end on October 21. At the end of the holiday, the police will reevaluate the situation and make decisions regarding the police presence in the city.

The riots broke out on the eve of Yom Kippur Wednesday when an Arab resident of the Old City drove his car into a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in the eastern part of the city, sparking an altercation with the Jewish residents of the neighborhood, which quickly deteriorated into all-out riots that lasted for five days.

According to reports police arrested 37 Arab residents and 27 Jewish residents suspected for having taking part in the violence.