The current Palestinian uprising in Jerusalem is not a passing event, but rather a new stage in the history of the struggle against Israel’s military occupation. This stage must bring about a tangible change in the current Palestinian political scene. It makes no sense for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to be preoccupied with elections in which they compete to control an authority under occupation, while Jerusalemites are rising up on a daily basis in defence of the city that illegal Israeli settlers want to seize.
What is happening in Jerusalem is clear. There is an Arab-Palestinian uprising that aims to defend Al-Aqsa Mosque and the remaining Arab neighbourhoods surrounding it.
Late opposition leader Ariel Sharon of the right-wing Likud on 24 July 2000 on the Mount of Olives [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images]
Historically, Jerusalem has been the compass and the engine driving the Palestinian people. This new uprising brings back memories of the Aqsa Intifada of 2000, which was sparked when extremist war criminal Ariel Sharon stormed into the Noble Sanctuary protected by Israeli occupation forces.
The current uprising is an important response to the controversy over holding Palestinian elections in the city, and whether the colonial-occupation state will allow Jerusalemites to participate. The spontaneous response from the city’s residents, however, is not a demand to participate in the elections, nor for Israel to allow them to take place in the city.
Instead, the people are chanting in support of legitimate resistance to Israel’s brutal occupation, using whatever means possible. Elections, of course, are certainly not among such means.
The popular uprising taking place in occupied Jerusalem, the likes of which the city has not seen for years, represents an important historical opportunity for the Palestinians to get out of their political crisis, provided that they make good use of it. It can be the common denominator that ends the internal division, leads to reconciliation and brings the factions back close to the people, who are their main asset.
Jerusalem is currently at the forefront of the Palestinian scene. Israel refuses to allow its residents to participate in the elections because it does not want to acknowledge that any part of the city is actually the capital of the future Palestinian state. Hence, the natural and logical Palestinian response should be nothing less than to cancel the elections and provide immediate support to the Jerusalemites.
After that, there should be a return to reconciliation talks. They must be based on bypassing the Palestinian Authority and its institutions, and going directly to the rebuilding and reform of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, and activating its role as the legitimate representative of all Palestinians.
Whatever happens, it is neither reasonable nor acceptable for the Palestinians in the West Bank and those in the Gaza Strip to be satisfied with statements of solidarity and praise for the steadfastness of the Jerusalemites, and then continue their preoccupation with the elections, which will lead to more fragmentation and division. If elections do take place, everyone will surely end up as losers.
What is required from the Palestinians is to unite around the popular uprising in Jerusalem, and to provide the necessary support for the steadfast Jerusalemites, including immediate action at the International Criminal Court to prevent the expulsion of residents from their homes, and to stop settlers’ brutality in the Arab neighbourhoods. Moreover, the elections must be cancelled immediately, as there is no meaning for Palestine without Jerusalem. In any case, elections are meaningless without reconciliation, and ending the division must precede any electoral process so that the division is not deepened through the ballot box and we do not end up losing hope in any reconciliation process.
Jerusalem has always been the compass and it alone is able to restore the Palestinian cause to its rightful course. It is the only thing capable of bringing the factions to their senses. The blessed city and Al-Aqsa Mosque moved all Palestinians and united them in 2000, and we stand today on the verge of a new opportunity to unite the people of occupied Palestine, once again, behind Jerusalem.
Translated from Al Quds Al Arabi 26 April 2021 and edited for MEMO.
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