PLO invites Israelis to Ramallah on Partition Plan anniversary

Fatah General Jibril Rajoub praised the Israelis; a Neturei Karta rabbi was booed by the crowd.

Senior Fatah leader Jibril Rajoub (photo credit: LEON SVERDLOV)
Senior Fatah leader Jibril Rajoub
(photo credit: LEON SVERDLOV)
Close to 300 Israelis came to the Mukata presidential headquarters in Ramallah on Thursday to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the 1947 Partition Plan.
“I hope that my family, my people and the Palestinian leadership – which I myself am part of – will realize what the presence of hundreds of Israelis [in Ramallah] on the anniversary of November 29 means,” said Fatah Central Committee Secretary-General Jibril Rajoub. “This is a notable message that there is an Israeli partner [for peace]. I [call upon] the Israelis [to] understand us well. Many Palestinians see [former Kahane Chai head] Baruch Marzel and [Transportation Minister Bezalel] Smotrich, [as Israel’s representatives] and these faces do not represent you.”
November 29 is commemorated in the Palestinian Authority as well as the Palestinian diaspora and the UN as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted in favor of Resolution 181, commonly known as the Partition Plan.
The Israelis who came to the Mukata were mostly left-wing activists, with some also being religious leaders, former MKs, bereaved parents and residents of Gaza Border communities. One of the speakers was Standing Together member Rula Dawoud, an Arab-Israeli from the Galilee and an LGBTQ+ rights activist. Dawoud has organized the Lod Pride Parade – the first such event in a mixed Jewish-Arab city.
Another speaker was Iris Segev, a member of the Parents Circle Families Forum, a movement that brings together Israeli and Palestinian families who had lost their loved ones to the conflict. Segev’s son, Nimrod, was killed in the Second Lebanon War.
“I wish that Allah will bless the Palestinian people, that you will gain your long-awaited independence as soon as possible and that peace will come,” she said. Her words received a standing ovation from the guests.
A speaker who did not receive such a warm reaction though was Rabbi Meir Hirsh, a haredi leader of Neturei Karta, a radical anti-Zionist branch of ultra-Orthodox Judaism.
“We despise the Zionist entity,” Hirsh said, referring to Israel. He argued that Zionists “have no right to represent the Jewish people or speak in its name.” He said that “the name ‘Israel’ that [the Zionists] are using is a falsification like no other. The Zionists and their leaders do not belong to the Jewish people.”
Hirsh’s words aggravated the audience, which booed him. Another representative of the branch stood up to defend the rabbi, shouting, “Who do you think you are, filthy leftists? Liars! You did the massacre, you!”
The event’s organizer, Dr. Ziad Darwish of the PLO’s Committee for Interaction with the Israeli Society, tried to calm the crowd. “Excuse me, gentlemen, we have heard you, please have respect for the [speakers],” he said. “We are the hosts here and we decide who speaks.”
Rajoub told the crowd that “Many claim that the Palestinians did not accept the partition plan. We did – in 1988,” referring to former PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian declaration of independence. Rajoub insisted that there is no other way to solve the conflict than a two-state solution.
“An independent Palestinian state in the 1967 borders – west Jerusalem being the political capital of the state of Israel, east Jerusalem being the political capital of Palestine, and a Jerusalem that would be open to all religions,” Rajoub said. “Let’s join forces – join hands – and fight together against the occupation.”
The speakers criticized US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement concerning the West Bank settlements. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later urged the EU to recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with east Jerusalem as its capital.
Earlier this month, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn urged the European Union to recognize Palestine, arguing that a recognition “by the whole EU would be a signal that the Palestinians have a need for a homeland, a state, just like the Israelis.”
The 1947 Partition Plan was the fifth initiative after the Peel Plan of 1937, the Woodhead Plans of 1939, the Anglo-American Plan of 1945 and the Morrison-Grady Plan of 1946. Resolution 181 was rejected by the Palestinian leadership and accepted by the Yishuv, while the previous plans were rejected by both sides.
The announcement of the 1947 plan caused a wave of intercommunal violence in Palestine, which later turned into a full-scale civil war. Israel declared independence in 1948, and was attacked by five Arab countries. In 1977, the UN declared November 29 the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people to commemorate the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians during the war.