PLO, Hamas urge participation in Land Day protest

Groups urge widespread marches to Israel's borders "to affirm the Arab and Palestinian character of Jerusalem"; say no solution to conflict if J'lem not Palestinian capital.

Palestinian Land Day protest 370 (photo credit: Mohamad Torokman / Reuters)
Palestinian Land Day protest 370
(photo credit: Mohamad Torokman / Reuters)
The PLO and Hamas urged Palestinians Thursday to participate in mass protests marking Land Day on Friday.
Pro-Palestinian supporters are also planning marches Friday from neighboring Arab countries to the borders with Israel as part of a solidarity event called “Global March to Jerusalem.” The PLO Executive Committee said the protests were necessary “to affirm the Arab and Palestinian character of Jerusalem.”
The committee said there would be no solution to the Israeli-Arab crisis unless Jerusalem became the eternal capital of an independent Palestinian state.
It added that the demonstrations were also directed against Israel’s efforts to “Judaize” Jerusalem and build settlements.
“The land was and remains the essence of the conflict [with Israel],” the committee said. “Our people’s main battle is over the land.”
The PLO committee warned that Israel’s policies were destroying the two-state solution and would have “catastrophic consequences.”
Palestinian activists in the West Bank expressed hope that thousands of Palestinians would heed calls to participate in the protests, which are expected to begin immediately after Friday prayers.
Representatives of various Palestinian political groups said that the demonstrations in the Palestinian territories and along the borders with Israel were part of the Palestinian strategy to launch “popular resistance against Israel.”
Mahmoud Aloul, a senior Fatah official, said that most of the protests in the West Bank would take place at the main entrances to Jerusalem. He voiced hope that tens of thousands of Palestinians would participate.
The mass demonstrations are intended to reflect the Palestinians’ objection to Israeli occupation, Aloul explained.
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas officials also urged Palestinians to participate. Hamas, too, is hoping that thousands of Palestinians will march toward the Erez border crossing.
The pro-Palestinian Popular Struggle Coordination Committee said that Palestinians would march to Jerusalem through the Kalandiya and Bethlehem checkpoints.
“The Global March to Jerusalem is an international action comprised of a diverse coalition of Palestinian, Arab and international activists,” the group announced Thursday.
“The protesters will march under the slogan of demanding freedom for Jerusalem and its people,” it continued. “The aim is to end the Zionist policies of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and Judaization, which all harm the people, land and sanctity of Jerusalem.”