'This is not the third intifada yet'

Arabs weigh in on escalation of violence and its aftermath; Nazareth residents fear "we are entering another intifada."

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October 9, 2015 06:55
2 minute read.
jerusalem clashes

Stone-throwing Palestinians clash with Israeli police in Sur Baher, a village in the suburbs of east Jerusalem. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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The current spate of violence has engrossed the Arab sector, just as it has the Jewish one, and worsening conditions could undo progress made in communal relations, figures from the Arab sector told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Nohad Ali, a sociologist from the University of Haifa and Western Galilee College who is an expert on Israeli-Arab affairs, said he does not see the current spate of violence as the beginning of a third intifada. “The eruption of a violent intifada is inevitable – but it will take some time.” At this moment, however, neither party desires this, he said.

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Ali categorizes participants in the current round of violence into three groups: Arabs living under the Palestinian Authority, Arab Israelis, and Palestinians of Jerusalem.

Regarding the first group, he assesses that PA security forces will be able to suppress demonstrations in their areas, since despite everything, PA President Mahmoud Abbas still has control.

In the second group, Israeli Arabs “are frustrated by government policy toward them, but have much to lose. They believe they have power, but are aware of its limits. They are afraid of the police response and the reaction of the Jewish community against them,” said Ali.

In his opinion, Arab MKs do not want to burn the bridges with the Jewish community.

The third group is more worrying.

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The Palestinian residents of eastern Jerusalem “are very frustrated, do not see light at the end of the tunnel and lack leadership.” Israel neutralized this leadership and “left all the power with the crowd on the street.”

“I suggest opening Orient House again, giving the PA a foothold in eastern Jerusalem, and legalizing the Islamic Movement. Doing otherwise is foolish and dangerous.”

Nidal Othman, the director of the Coalition against Racism, which is comprised of NGOs that represent minorities in the country, told the Post that the current situation is a result of the failure of the Israeli and Palestinian leadership in the peace process.

Asked if there will be an escalation of violence, Othman responded that we are in a temporary bout of violence “with attacks here and there, but not a third intifada.”

He blames violent outbursts on fringe elements on both sides who seek to inflame the situation. As a result, everybody else is being drawn into the chaos and – racism is increasing, said Othman. The aftermath of the events is going to “make it difficult to return to normal life, since both sides have casualties. It will bring more hate.”

Marwa Atamna, an Arab journalist based in Nazareth who writes for the local Hadith Al-Nas newspaper, told the Post that there is concern among residents of her city that “we are entering another intifada.”

Small groups have protested with signs on the streets of Nazareth regarding recent events, but Atamna said residents generally are not in favor of an escalation in the situation.

People are a bit confused about the current surge in violence, unsure about what is going on and where things are heading, she added.

The issue of al-Aksa Mosque and tension on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is a subject foremost on people’s minds, she continued.

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