Jerusalem first, second and last

Mustafa Barghouti
Friday 15 Dec 2017

America's so-called 'Deal of the Century' apparently seeks to exclude Jerusalem from a future Palestinian state. However, any such efforts are based on illusions and will ultimately fail

One of the most dangerous points to have been leaked from the so-called “Deal of the Century”, which the American negotiating team has been preparing, is the exclusion of Jerusalem from the suggested solution. Through this exclusion, they are circumventing the Palestinian, Arab and international consensus regarding the city being the long-sought capital of the Palestinian state.

These leaks coincide with the hysterical escalation of Judaising settlement activities in Jerusalem and the decisions to ethnically cleanse Palestinian communities in what’s called the (E1) Area, including the Jabal Al-Baba and the Bedouin communities in the Jordan Valley. These activities aim at totally encircling Jerusalem and separating it from its West Bank surroundings.

In parallel with this, the ministerial committee in the Netanyahu occupation government announced its approval for the separation from Jerusalem of Palestinian communities around Kafr ’Aqab and the Camp of She’fat. Thus, they are paving the way for usurping the identity and the right of residence of tens of thousands of Jerusalemite Palestinians.

This was accompanied by reckless statements from American Vice President Pence about the approaching transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem and American President Trump's acknowledgment of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Western supporters of these statements to erase the Jerusalem issue from the concept of the Palestinian state have been encouraged by illusions arising from the location of the Palestinian Authority's institutions in Ramallah. The PA has been based in Ramallah due to being prevented from locating in Jerusalem, as well as excessive urban and consumer expansion there.

However, the advocates of these illusions don’t realise what Jerusalem means, not only to 13 million Palestinians, but to more than 300 million Arabs, to 1.6 billion Muslims, and to 2.2 billion Christians – nor what it means as a historically holy city for the whole of humanity, with its 7 billion people.

I don’t think that they realise that there has never been, nor will there ever be, a Palestinian leader or official who dares to give up Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

Whoever dares to even suggest the possibility of such a relinquishement within any upcoming political agreement or project will be tainted with treason from the point of view of all Palestinians and Muslim Arabs. There is nothing more horrendous, despicable, dangerous and harsh than the accusation of treason.

Whoever dares to even suggest dangerous ideas about separating Jerusalem from its Palestinian inhabitants in response to Zionist projects propagated by the Israeli government doesn’t realise the historical significance of what Jerusalem has undergone throughout its long history. He also doesn’t realise its capacity to rise again after every occupation and every invasion, no matter how mighty or long the periods of invasion and occupation were.

History is full of lessons for anyone attempting to possess or monopolise control over Jerusalem. Such people ended up in its streets or on its walls with burnt hands – condemned to oblivion.

Jerusalem has endured, along with its inhabitants and those who remain, steadfastly defending it and its borders and environs.

Whoever isn’t satisfied with the lessons of history should learn a lesson from what the valiant Jerusalemites did last July, when they rose up in their tens of thousands against Netanyahu’s measures and restraints, entering Al-Aqsa Mosque and forcing him to retreat dispiritedly. Through their popular struggle, they accomplished what governments, states and international organisations could not.

Jerusalemites and Palestinians won’t cause or allow the liquidation of the Jerusalem issue. Nor will they accept any solution that doesn’t include Jerusalem as a capital for their people.

All the peoples of the region who were too forgiving regarding the injustice to which Jerusalem has been subjected, won’t forgive, in any case, the encroachment on their religious and historical holy sites and what the city represents to them.

The advocates of those allusions may go and play in other spheres, but they must keep away from Jerusalem, because it is capable of destroying their plots in a way that they won’t and can’t imagine.

According to Palestine, Jerusalem has been and will be the first and last word, regardless of who accepts or who rejects this.

The writer is Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative.

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