Joy over Trump's Jerusalem recognition is misguided, Arab MKs say

"I don't know what all the ecstasy is about," said MK Gouma Azbarga (Joint List). "A peace arrangement is in everyone's interest."

December 10, 2017 08:01
3 minute read.
US President Donald Trump delivers remarks recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

US President Donald Trump delivers remarks recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)

The jubilant reaction of many Israeli Jews to US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and plans to move the American embassy to Tel Aviv has heightened the feelings of alienation of Israeli Arab leaders, who insist that the eastern part of the city should become capital of an independent Palestinian state.

"I don't know what all the ecstasy is about," said MK Gouma Azbarga (Joint List). "A peace arrangement is in everyone's interest. Netanyahu and the right are dancing but the people who live here aren't Trump and the Americans, it's us together. This is bad for everyone. The sane people think of this differently than Netanyahu and are not in ecstasy."

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"This blocks the way to any peaceful settlement and we want a peaceful settlement," Azbarga said. "It has a bad impact on the Muslim and Arab worlds and also on the Palestinian issue, which is in everyone's interest to resolve."

Azbarga spoke to the Jerusalem Post after participating in a protest against Trump's move in Rahat that drew about a hundred people. Small protests were held Saturday in Tira, Tamra, Wadi Ara and other locales. In Wadi Ara, protesters at Arara Junction briefly blocked route 65 south before being vacated by police, including equestrian forces. "It was reopened very quickly by police," said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. "There were no disturbances, no riots."

A larger protest, which organizers said drew several thousand people in Umm al-Fahm Friday, also ended without any incidents. "The main message was rejecting Trump's decision and emphasizing the rights of Palestinians in Jerusalem and solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle for independence," said MK Yousef Jabareen, who spoke at the protest.

"The Trump declaration is comparable to the Balfour declaration," Jabareen told the Jerusalem Post. "A country gives something it doesn't own to a side that doesn't deserve it." He said that his Hadash party's position is that Jerusalem should be the shared capital of Israel and a Palestinian state, whether divided between east and west or through an arrangement that will keep it united.

For Tuesday, Israeli Arab leaders are planning a protest in Tel Aviv opposite the American embassy and, on Friday, the main protest event designed to draw people from throughout the country is planned for Sakhnin.

Meanwhile, MK Zuheir Bahloul (Zionist Union) took strong issue with the response of his party leader Avi Gabbay to Trump's move. Gabbay told a television interviewer that "United Jerusalem is more important than peace because united Jerusalem is the symbol of the people of Israel."

Bahloul said "Peace is the loftiest value that a politician and a human should strive for. I am sorry he made this pronouncement."

"There is nothing like peace. If we solve the issue of Jerusalem [unilaterally] and war breaks out on all the fronts, what have we done? There will be endless casualties and tension. What will we have done to ourselves and future generations? We are adopting a recipe for war instead of for peace."

Bahloul said that Trump "should not have made such a declaration because Jerusalem will always be the capital of two states even if the Palestinian state has not yet arisen."

"With his declaration he takes a one-sided position that harms the chances of the other side to establish its state and harms 'two states for two peoples. He is cutting off hope from the Palestinians."

Of the clashes, rocket attacks and airstrike over the weekend, Bahloul said "I am worried about anarchy and loss of control over matters despite the sincere attempt by the Palestinian Authority, even in this delicate situation, to create order and stability."

Trump's decision, he added, "pushes the Palestinians against the wall. Jordan is pressured and Egypt will also come under pressure. Turkey is making bellicose pronouncements. What do we need all of this for? Instead of convening everyone to the negotiating table, the Americans make provocative declarations."

Bahloul said "Israel has the right to its capital in West Jerusalem but the Palestinians also have the right to a state with its capital in East Jerusalem."

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