Exile-threatened Jerusalem officials mark one year in asylum

[ 25/06/2011 – 05:56 PM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– A year has passed since Jerusalem’s Palestinian officials first sat down at the Red Cross headquarters seeking asylum after Israeli occupation authorities threatened to exile them from their native city.

They marked the anniversary of their refusal to depart the holy city by sending an open message to the world. In it they proposed a new initiative prioritizing Jerusalem and condemned the international silence against their dilemma of being banished.

“Because Jerusalem is the pearl of the Arab and Muslim lands, and is a part of their honor and dignity, and they have no future without its liberation, it is a duty – in the midst of a renewed search for identity and freedom – to turn to Jerusalem and its people and its holy sites, as a compass for progress and struggle,” said the letter, which was signed by Jerusalem legislators Mohammed Toutah and Ahmed Attoun and former Palestinian minister Khalid Abu Arafeh and Mohammed Abu Teir, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council who has already been banished to Ramallah.

“The challenges of today are immeasurably grave. The Zionist plan [to change the city] has neared its end. [The Israeli occupier] has raced time to fill the city with spiteful Israeli settlements, jostling its people for their sacred places, neighborhoods, and lives, and competing with them in numbers, while taking donations from European and American organizations and with the support of political regimes, with the intent to Judaize the holy city and erase its landmarks and history and eject its citizens and ethnically cleanse the city. [This comes at a time] when the world community theoretically claims to have reverence for rights and covenants and democracies while it should initiate immediate action to activate international decisions providing the rights of Jerusalem and the Jerusalemites, even though ambassadors from these states in 2010 called on governments to treat the occupied city as a capital for the Palestinians.”

“The people and men of the ‘stricken city’, those who have lingered since the occupation in 1967 defending it and sacrificing and facing various challenges in that path, such as detention and home demolitions and the confiscation of lands and being exposed to heavy taxes and fines, are still fighting this brutal war in order to subsist and survive in the holy city, in spite of the horror and cruelty of the occupation, and also in order to maintain the pure Arab and Islamic identity of the city and the existence of the Muslims and Christians there, in light of absence of political will that materializes a desired national strategy aimed at liberating the city and the entire Palestinian land.”

“Since our arrest on June 29, 2006 after we went into Palestinian legislative elections and formed the tenth government, among a constellation of sixty-four detainees including legislators, ministers, and municipality heads in a historic precedent, under the sight and hearing of the entire world, and since we, the Jerusalemites, entered a confrontation with Israel once again after we were released, after its decision to banish us and isolate us from our people and society, on the premise of our non-alliance with Israeli authorities and our sitting in for 355 days at the Red Cross in the city, since July 1, 2010…we have come to realize the importance and sensitivity of our affair, the news of which has reached all levels.”

The men also expressed disappointment in the lack of action taken by the Palestinian Authority to support them.

“With regard to the Israeli courts assessing our cases, specifically the one known as the Supreme Court, we have never counted on their findings. Israel’s decisions against Palestinians are political and racist and stem from occupation agencies in general.”

“As we would like to draw your attention to what Israel’s plans have in store for Jerusalem and its people, we assure you that events, decisions, and practices on the ground, in light of international inability and complicity, have made the holy city one of the most important ideological trenches for the Zionist society … which means that Jerusalem and the Jerusalemites will continue to pay the bills of the Israeli occupation for many years to come; and Al-Aqsa Mosque as well as all of the Islamic and Christian holy sites will continue to suffer in the city, unless the Palestinians initiate the announcement of a strategic vision, entitled ‘Jerusalem first’ and translate it genuinely and practically, and unless the Arabs and Muslims support their Palestinian brothers in liberating the city and saving its people.”

The men concluded: “With the anniversary of our sit-in, we recall the 450 Palestinians who were exiled from their land in 1992 to Marj al-Zuhur in southern Lebanon. All of them returned to their homes once those exiled had the will to stand firm and Arab and Muslim leaders had the will to pass decisions for their return. There is no doubt that the Jerusalemites have demonstrated their will to stand firm in their holy city, but will the Palestinian and Arab leaders demonstrate their true will to protect Jerusalem?”

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