Police arrest 3 activists in protest over PA UN bid

MKs Ben Ari, Eldad try to burn Palestinian flag in protest; in Tel Aviv, hundreds rally in favor of bid.

Police snatch flag from protester who tried to burn it 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Police snatch flag from protester who tried to burn it 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Police arrested three right-wing activists on Thursday at a protest outside the UN headquarters in east Jerusalem, after two MKs attempted to burn the Palestinian flag.
MKs Michael Ben-Ari and Arieh Eldad, who were elected as part of the National Union list but have started the breakaway Strong Israel party, wanted to burn the flag as a symbol of their opposition to the Palestinian bid at the UN for non-member observer status.
“We will prevent any attempts to create a Palestinian state west of the Jordan river,” Eldad said outside the UN headquarters located between the neighborhoods of Armon Hanatziv and Jebl Mukaber.
“The minute that Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] will begin his speech, the Oslo Accords are canceled,” he said, since no state can take unilateral actions. “We will never agree to any foreign statehood other than the State of Israel in our homeland.”
Moriah Precinct Dep.-Cmdr Yaakov Cohen asked the MKs not to burn the flag.
“This will disrupt public order and I ask you not to do this,” he said, to which Ben-Ari retorted, “I ask that you take care of the terrorists before you take care of us.”
When the MKs took out the Palestinian flag in order to burn it, police forcibly tore the flag out of their hands, initiating a short scuffle between the 20 protesters and authorities.
Chanting “Strong Israel!” and “No more Palestinians!” the protesters screamed at police that they had no right to stop them.
“There never was a Palestinian state and there never will be a Palestinian state!” shouted an agitated Ben-Ari as the protest began to disband.
“Instead of taking care of our enemies, they are attacking members of Knesset. The UN is giving a tailwind to people who are trying to destroy the State of Israel! Sixty five years ago, they gave us a little tiny piece of land. But this was ours and it will always be ours – we don’t need them and we will never need them. This is our land because it is our land, not because the UN gave it to us!” he yelled.
Eldad slammed the police’s use of force. “This was not an act to protect the order and the peace of Israeli society; it was a violent act of the police against members of Knesset abusing their force and preventing us as members of Knesset to express our objection to any creation of a Palestinian state,” he said.
A significantly more relaxed scene was on display in Tel Aviv on Thursday evening, where 300-400 protesters held a rally to call on Israel to support the Palestinian statehood bid.
The crowd was thick with banners and T-shirts for the left-wing Meretz and Hadash parties, and over the course of a little over an hour, a string of well-known left-wing activists took to the stage while the crowd chanted “Two states for two people” and “Jerusalem: Two capitals for two peoples.”
“We are on the path to an agreement between free Israel and free Palestine, a peace agreement between two peoples with two capitals in Jerusalem. There is a chance for a future free of the [West Bank] occupation and the fear of missiles, an end to the killing and a future living together,” said former Meretz MK Mosi Raz.
Dr. Nabila Espanioli, a feminist activist and fifth on the Hadash party list, gave a speech in which she said, “Congratulations to Israel and to Palestine, that after 60 years, the call for two states for two people is increasing.”
She added that the two-state solution used to be called “a vision of apocalypse, but this is a vision that is becoming reality. And the people who aspire to peace are saying yes!” After a short acoustic guitar song by flotilla participant and refusenik Yonatan Shapira, veteran far-left activist Uri Avnery took the stage and said that “what is happening today is obvious; it’s a historical event, both for us and the Palestinians, but the work only begins here. The UN won’t give them a state; they need to found their state and if we are choosing to have a future in peace, we must help them build their state.
Avnery then said that he wanted to thank two people who led to this day, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, before calling on people to make sure that in the upcoming elections they vote for parties that put the cause of peace at the top of their agenda.