Fatah Calls General Strike!

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Fatah’s top leadership called for a general strike throughout the nation for yesterday, in protest against the ‘fierce and planned Israeli attacks’ that have been launched on Jerusalem holy sites.

The decision follows a week of high tension in Jerusalem after Israeli settlers backed by police were seen entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque, setting off demonstrations.

A statement from the Fatah Central Committee, the movement’s highest governing body said the strike was called in order to demonstrate Palestinians’ ‘steadfastness and determination to keep hold of our Christian and Islamic holy sites’.

The committee also called for peaceful demonstrations that would show that Jerusalem is Palestinians’ ‘eternal capital’ and the future seat of government in an independent state.

The statement further denounced Israel’s expansion of settlements in the city as ‘an attempt by the Israeli right-wing government to return to a cycle of violence in order to shirk its commitments to the peace process’.

Fatah also urged Arab and Muslim states, the United Nations, and the Quartet to intervene and support Palestinians in Jerusalem.

• Israelis must know that the status quo will lead to a ‘sliding back into the darkness’, Jordan’s King Abdullah II asked the Israeli newspaper Haaretz to tell its readers.

‘Is Israel going to be fortress Israel or is it going to be part of the neighbourhood? Because if there is no two-state solution, what future do we all have together?’ the monarch told a reporter from the newspaper in Amman.

‘Show me the future of Israel 10 years from now.

‘Where do you want Israel to be vis-a-vis its relationship with Jordan and other Arab countries?

‘I understand that you tend to live in the here and now.

‘You are worried about the next threat.

‘It is difficult for an Israeli to look into the future because of the security aspect.

‘But if there is peace and stability, then people can look into the future,’ he said.

The publication of the wake-up call comes as Israel is being forced back to the peace talk table while it simultaneously pursues the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, steps up repressive procedures against Palestinians living in Jerusalem, denies the allegations of war crimes made public in the UN-mandated Goldstone report and war mongers over the spectre of a nuclear Iran.

Jerusalem is ‘a tinderbox that will have a major flashpoint throughout the Islamic world’, the King told the Israeli newspaper.

And he cautioned Israeli police who have recently sparked clashes in the Old City over restrictions on movement and access to its holy sites.

On Wednesday, police presence was so tight that Palestinian schoolchildren had difficulty accessing their places of study.

It ‘is important to understand the need of ending all settlement activities and other unilateral actions that threaten the identity of the holy city’, King Abdullah II cautioned.

The Jordanian monarch gave the interview to Haaretz on the same day as thousands of Israeli settlers and members of the Knesset celebrated the laying of a foundation stone for the latest settlement project on Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem.

Flanked by a heavy police presence, Israeli right-wing leaders laid the foundation for an expansion of a settlement in East Jerusalem’s Jabal Mukaber neighbourhood.

Fearing renewed protests following a week of unrest in reaction to perceived Israeli infringement on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israeli police blocked streets to allow a procession of settler leaders and activists to the settlement of Nof Zion.

‘We weren’t going to cancel a serious ceremony regarding the construction of another Jewish residency in East Jerusalem just because a few Hooligans make some noise,’ organiser Avichai Buaran told Israel’s Army Radio, according to the newspaper Haaretz.

‘Nof Zion is in the Arab town of Jabel Mukaber, but it remains a Jewish neighbourhood of Jerusalem,’ he was also quoted as saying.

The ceremony marked the beginning of construction of 105 housing units, an addition to an existing 95 units.

Israelis aspiring to become settlers in the new houses brought a Torah scroll to Nof Zion’s synagogue.

The international community deems illegal all Israeli settlements across the Green Line border, including those in East Jerusalem.

The expansion of settlements has been a driving factor behind renewed Palestinian protests in the city.

Meanwhile, Israeli police announced that restrictions on access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, would continue for a fifth straight day on Thursday.

Muslim men over age fifty will be allowed to enter the shrine, provided they possess an Israeli ID card.

Women of all ages are permitted.

Reported intrusions by settlers into the Al-Aqsa compound caused several days of demonstrations by unarmed Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Police armed with clubs and tear gas have forcibly dispersed the protesters.