Israeli Arabs 'won't sit passively' if US names Jerusalem Israel's capital

"What Trump declares is one thing, but there is a Palestinian people on the ground unwilling to accept it."

December 4, 2017 17:09
3 minute read.

Trump delays moving US embassy to Jerusalem (credit: REUTERS)

Trump delays moving US embassy to Jerusalem (credit: REUTERS)


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If the Trump administration recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the step will be met with wide protests among the Arab citizens of Israel, MK Jamal Zahalka said Monday.

Such a step by Trump would mean “determining that Israel is sovereign in Jerusalem, including al-Aksa,” Zahalka (Joint List) said, referring to Islam’s third-holiest shrine. “This is extremely grave. I hope there will be someone in the US to tell Trump ‘Don’t do this foolish step, which is bad for everyone.’ No one will benefit except for some crazies on the Israeli Right.”

Asked how Arab citizens would react, Zahalka responded: “Of course, there will be a lot of demonstrations, there will be a great amount of protest. We haven’t decided exactly how, but there will be protest.”

“Our struggle is nonviolent,” he added.

Zahalka said recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be “a hostile step against the Palestinian people and the Arabs. I hope there will be a response of the Arab states against the US, so Trump will understand there are limits to the craziness of power, that he cannot do whatever he wants.”

Meanwhile, the foreign minister of Jordan, Ayman Safadi, spoke with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a bid to dissuade the US from taking the step. Safadi tweeted that he spoke of the “dangerous consequences of recognizing Jerusalem. Such a decision would trigger anger across the Arab and Muslim worlds, fuel tension and jeopardize peace efforts.”

An Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman said Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry had stressed the need to avoid rash decisions that could inflame tensions and to exercise “caution when dealing with this sensitive issue,” during a conversation with Tillerson Sunday night.

Sheikh Safwat Farig, deputy head of the moderate Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, told The Jerusalem Post that he fears there will be bloodshed in the West Bank and Jerusalem if such recognition is accorded.

“We inside Israel will protest in the legal ways, in the legitimate ways, but it’s clear it won’t be business as usual, and we won’t sit passively. We will protest opposite the US Embassy and make demonstrations inside Israel. That’s the minimum we must do.”

Asked if there would be violence, Farig said: “I hope there won’t be inside Israel, but I am concerned that in Jerusalem and the West Bank it will spread into unnecessary bloodshed.”

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki called Sunday for an emergency meeting of the Arab League amid reports in the US media that Trump is going to deliver a speech on Wednesday in which he will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“What Trump declares is one thing, but there is a Palestinian people on the ground unwilling to accept it,” Farig said. “We always thought the US was an unfair mediator. Now we think not only this, but that the US is a party in this conflict. And that is dangerous.

“The biggest enemy is despair,” he added. “Some of the Palestinian groups have despaired for a while, but the majority give peace a chance.” But now, Farig warned, even the “level-headed” Palestinians may be driven to despair. “A desperate person with nothing to lose is the most dangerous to be around, and that’s what we don’t want,” he said.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Barakeh, chairman of the main leadership body of Arab citizens, warned against it too.

“It is dangerous,” said Barakeh, head of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab citizens of Israel. “The Americans are playing with fire because it touches on the capital of the Palestinian people. Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state, and this makes it a capital without a heart.”

He said a decision to recognize Jerusalem would be “wrong according to international law and in violation of UN decisions. It will completely eliminate the possibility that the US can serve as a mediator in the peace process, and it will bring confrontation and combustion of which one cannot know where it will end.”

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