The violent events of the last weeks in Jerusalem from stabbing, to premeditated targeted killings, to planting of knives next to Palestinians after being shot and killed should tell us a few things.
Israel as an occupying power is unfit and unqualified to rule and manage the city. With the Palestinian leaderships having abandoned Jerusalem and its Arab citizens in Oslo, it too is unfit and unqualified to represent and protect the interests of Palestinians in Jerusalem.
Israel, contrary to its marketed slogan as “the only democracy in the Middle East”, is a racist xenophobic country, and has never been a country for all of its citizens. The PLO leadership is a self-serving, corrupt, inept organization that can not be trusted to represent, let alone protect, the life and rights of those whom it claims to represent. Nothing short of providing international protection for the Palestinian population of Jerusalem and in the entire Occupied Territories will do. The US is a party to the conflict, and can not be trusted to be a fair and honest broker.
The Palestinians under Israeli Occupation are “damned if they do and damned if they don’t.” While all nations and people have an absolute and inalienable right to resist foreign occupation including armed resistance, Palestinians are the only people and nation denied such rights. Any form of resistance is seen as “acts of terrorism”, and this label is sanctioned by the PLO, Oslo and the United States.
All official Israeli armed acts, along with the acts of criminal trespassing settlers, are deemed “self defense” no matter what the circumstances, including targeted assassinations, detentions without charges, house demolitions, acts of arson, cold-blooded murders, uprooting, burning of hundreds of thousands of olive trees, confiscation of property and denial of access to one’s land and farm.
The Palestinians are denied any right to self-defense, let alone any rights of resistance against the Israeli Occupation. Keep in mind the Palestinian Authority and leadership role is a commercial and security partner with the Israeli Occupation.
For over 48 years, since the Six Day War, Palestinians in Jerusalem have been suffering from daily discrimination and ethnic cleansing by Israelis, supported for the most part by wealthy Jewish Americans using tax exempt organizations to confiscate Palestinian properties under the pretense of being “Jewish” properties.
Israeli courts, for the most part, allow falsified and fraudulent deeds in support of such criminal activities, as we have seen most often in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Sheik Jarrah and Bab-Alamoud.
The violent events of the last several weeks, while not rising to a Third Intifada, is an expression of pent-up anger and frustration over the ethnic cleansing that has seen over 80,000 Palestinians losing their residency in Jerusalem, and their property confiscated. Palestinians in Jerusalem are denied the basic right of building or adding rooms on their own properties, while Israeli Jews are allowed to steal the land and build on it.
Since the founding of Israel, and prior to the 1967 War, Jerusalem was divided by barbed wires, with East Jerusalem under Jordanian control and West Jerusalem under Israeli control. There was some minor UN presence.
It was only after the Six Day War that Jerusalem was united under total Israeli control, and formally annexed to Israel shortly after the end the war.
Israel moved quickly and swiftly to consolidate its control over East Jerusalem making dramatic changes in the city demographics, by totally destroying entire Arab neighborhoods. This was the case with “ Maghreb Quarter” near the Dome of the Mosque.
Declaring the unified city as its eternal capital, Israel began to use a series of dubious laws as a legal means to ethnically cleanse the city of its Arab residents. First it denied Palestinians their right of residency under many pretenses, and then used “absentee laws” to officially steal and confiscate their properties.
The violent events of the last few weeks are an expression of anger and frustration over the treatment Palestinians receive at the hands of Israeli soldiers and settlers.
While not denying the fact that some Palestinians, in the absence of any right to use arms to resist, have resorted to “knifing” as a mean of expressing their anger and have caused scores of Israelis to suffer from such attacks, the number of Palestinians killed and murdered far exceeds the few Israeli fatalities.
Israelis, taking full advantage of the “knifing” and the wide coverage in America and international media, began to plant knives next to murdered Palestinians. There are many videos showing the planting of knives to justify the cold-blooded, premeditated murders.
By now, and after 48 years of total control over Jerusalem, Israel proved over and over it is not a fair or honest trustee of a city of both Jews and Arabs (Christians and Muslims); its policies are so discriminatory, it disqualifies it from managing a unified city.
On the other hand, and notwithstanding empty statements by the late Yasser Arafat and his successor Mahmoud Abba, Jerusalem and its Arab residents were never a priority. They never received the necessary material support to help Arabs fight Israel’s onslaught on their very existence in the city.
The Palestinian leadership never translated its words to action to help Arab residents in their struggle to stay. Little, if any, legal support was given to the Palestinians to help them fight expulsion, or fight the confiscation or demolition of their properties. The cost of one international trip by Mahmoud Abbas and his entourage perhaps could have covered all the court costs and fines. The Palestinian PLO leadership, just like Israel, is not qualified to represent and guard the interests of Arabs in the city.
While recognizing the efforts of the Organization of Islamic States to provide material support to Arab residents, it falls short of the massive comprehensive plans needed by a UN Security Council resolution. One also has to admit the difficulties the Organization of Islamic States faces in support of those remaining in the city.
As Chairman of the Organization of Islamic State’s Committee on Jerusalem, King Mohamed VI of Morocco has taken upon himself the difficult task to champion Jerusalem and the rights of the Arab citizens (Christians and Muslims), and with much appreciation, continues to fund several projects to help Arab residents remain in the city.
Last year, His Majesty held an international conference of member states to address the needs of both the people and the city, emphasizing the importance of maintaining the Arab, Muslim and Christian character of the city.
While appreciative of the great efforts by His Majesty King Mohamed VI in supporting the city, the events of the last few weeks necessitate the urgent need for an international conference on Jerusalem. A “Jerusalem for All” would keep the city unified under international agreement, and preserve the unique quality of the city, and its special status as a holy city for Jews, Christians and Muslims.
It will be worthwhile to explore such an international conference, supported by a UN Security Council resolution.
His Majesty King Mohamed VI, with his good standing among the people of all faiths, is well-qualified to take the lead in calling for such a conference, and to invite the leaders and heads of all faiths and denominations, Jews, Christians (including the Pope) and Muslims (Sunnis and Shiites) and world leaders to the conference. The conference should solidify guarantees for respect and preservation of the rights of all citizens in the city, and preserve its unique historical structures and heritage — making it a city open to everyone of all faiths, and united for all of its citizens — a Jerusalem for All.
Sami, a Palestinian-American and a US Army Veteran (66-68), recipient of the “soldier of the month award and leadership award from the 6th Army NCO Academy, is an international legal and business consultant with over 40 years of international experience, in construction, hospitality services, conservation, and defense, in the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. Sami is a holder of BA, MPA in Public and Environmental Affairs, Jurist Doctor from Indiana University. While at IU he was elected class president, student government president and chairman of the Indiana Students Association,
Active in peace movement as a co-author of the pre-amble for the One State for All of its people and voluntary service program SalamNation. A frequent contributor on national and international affairs. He resides in the United States.