‘Jerusalem–the eternal capital of Palestine & nothing else’ says Mahmoud Abbas


IN A speech on Saturday evening, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas called Jerusalem ‘the eternal capital of the state of Palestine and nothing else.’

Addressing hundreds of Jerusalemite Palestinians in the presidential headquarters in Ramallah, official Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted Abbas as saying that the ‘Palestinian leadership listened to Jerusalemites’ appeals and would continue to do so.’

Abbas applauded Palestinian residents of Jerusalem for their courage and strength during 13 days of protests in July denouncing new Israeli security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the wake of a deadly shooting at the compound on July 14.

Despite Israeli forces’ violent repression of demonstrations across the occupied Palestinian territory, during which six Palestinians were killed, Israel eventually backtracked and removed all new security apparatus at the compound, in what was celebrated as a victory of popular Palestinian mobilisation.

‘We should preserve the victory achieved in Jerusalem to achieve another victory or to take another step forward,’ Abbas said. ‘We will all remain as murabitun (recruits) in Jerusalem, in Al-Aqsa, and in the land of ribat,’ he added, using an Islamic term referring to the defence of Islam.

While Israel officially annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, according to Palestinians and the international community the city has remained an intricate part of the occupied Palestinian territory and would be considered the capital of any future Palestinian state.

The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the ‘Judaization’ of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.

Abbas added that the mistakes of 1948 – when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly displaced during the creation of the state of Israel, in what came to be known as the Nakba, or catastrophe – would not be repeated.

Speaking about intra-Palestinian issues, Abbas confirmed that the PA would continue to reduce financial support to the Gaza Strip as long as the Hamas movement did not stick to the PA-mandated terms of reconciliation.

Abbas’ comments on the issue came as Hamas announced on Thursday its readiness to do away with its administrative committee in Gaza, should the Fatah-led PA retract all punitive measures imposed on the besieged coastal enclave in recent months.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned on Sunday Israel’s decision to evict the Shamasneh family from their home in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem.

Earlier on this day, Israeli police handed members of the Shamasneh family a final order issued by the supreme Israeli court asking them to leave their home, claiming it is Jewish property.

The Shamasneh family said it rented the home in 1964, and has been paying the monthly rent regularly since then. The ministry described the decision as racial and said it was not the first of its kind, but rather part of a series of similar decisions under which Israel has displaced many indigenous Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah and other areas in Jerusalem.

It cited examples of the Kurd, Hannoun and Ghawi families who in the past few years have been displaced by similar Israeli decisions. Meanwhile President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech concerning Jerusalem dominated the headlines on the front pages of the three Palestinian Arabic dailies on Sunday. Al-Ayyam, al-Quds and al-Hayat al-Jadida quoted from Abbas’ speech as saying ‘the Palestinian leadership listened to your appeal and will continue to do so.’

Abbas also said that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Palestine. The three newspapers said thousands participated in the funerals of four Palestinians who were shot dead by Israeli forces in the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.

Al-Quds and al-Ayyam said that Palestinian in Jerusalem offered support to Shamasneh family after Israeli authorities ordered them to evict their house under the pretext that it belonged to a Jewish family before the year 1948. The Palestinian family has been living in the house since 1964.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida reported that Israel is still trying to take hold of a seat in the UN’s Security Council, while Arab efforts are attempting to block that from happening. Thousands of Israelis marched to demand progress in the investigation process with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu under corruption charges, according to al-Quds and al-Ayyam.

• King of Jordan Abdullah II was scheduled to visit Palestine yesterday for talks with President Mahmoud Abbas, in the aftermath of the recent Israeli measures in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.

Speaking to Voice of Palestine radio, Minister of Civil Affairs, Hussein Sheikh, said King Abdullah would arrive in the presidential headquarters in Ramallah to discuss with President Abbas the latest developments in Palestine, including Israel’s recent escalation in al-Aqsa Mosque.

Both leaders would discuss the relations with Israel and other regional issues, including joint Palestinian-Jordanian coordination to address the political challenges facing the two countries.

• Doing everything within their means to cover events in Palestine in a professional and independent manner, Ma’an News’s journalists work day and night under exceptionally difficult circumstances to provide comprehensive coverage of Palestinian and Israeli affairs.

Special efforts have been made to cover the events surrounding the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in July. These efforts included translating reports from Hebrew and including reactions from both Palestinian and Israeli sides at official and popular levels.

Quotes from press releases issued by Palestinian factions in response to the situation around Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque were also published. So were threats by Israeli extremists who called for the expulsion of Palestinians and the demolition of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Ma’an did so as part of its mission to provide its readers and audience with a comprehensive a coverage as possible – as it has done every day in the past 13 years, regardless of local and international reactions.

Ma’an considers itself a ‘popular’ media outlet – meaning that it is the property of the Palestinian people, and won’t be phased by Zionist lobbies’ attempts to intimidate or bully by exerting pressures on donors.

On Tuesday Ma’an wrote an article in Arabic about a Hebrew-language song advocating violence against Israelis. The network did so as part of its duty to cover all events and reactions to the situation in Palestine in general, and in Jerusalem in particular.

As a result of this report, Ma’an has come under attack by right-wing Israeli entities. Such a campaign against Ma’an is similar to what other Palestinian media outlets have gone through. Attacking Palestinian media won’t help stop the uprising, nor will it end violence. It is yet another example that extremist Israelis want to intimidate Palestinian journalists and distract from the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is a political conflict, not a religious one.

When asked to comment on the case during a televised report by Israel’s Channel 2 criticising Ma’an, Editor-in-Chief Nasser Lahham pointed out that Channel 2 and other Hebrew-language news outlets had also recirculated the song, exactly as Ma’an has done.

‘To involve the European Union and other donors who fund free journalism in this fabricated crisis is just an attempt to punish Ma”an and Palestinian media,’ he said. We don’t incite because we don”t believe in incitement, and we don”t practice violence because we aren”t combatants but rather journalists,’ Lahham added.

‘We welcome any non partisan party to be the judge between us and the occupation, but it is unacceptable that the occupation play the role of both the prosecution and the judge at the same time.’