A two-day conference of the international committee for the “Global March to Jerusalem” in Amman concluded last week – with member committees, representing more than 60 countries present. The head of the Jordanian committee taking part in the meeting, Abdullah Obeidat, said that “trade unions and opposition parties decided to support the march and participate in defence of the holy city and Palestinian families in the occupied territories.”1
On March 30th, Land Day, in the spirit of the amazing people’s movements worldwide, Palestinian refugees will march with freedom lovers and justice seekers from all over the world, to Jerusalem. The aim of participants is to draw attention to the systematic discrimination of Palestinians in Jerusalem, and make a concrete effort to end the occupation, through peaceful means.
Recent, ongoing clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians at Al-Aqsa mosque have left dozens of Palestinians injured and detained, for throwing stones at police on the plaza; with no end in sight. The latest spark was caused by calls of right wing groups to ‘Occupy Al-Aqsa’2 who (in typical fashion, appropriated the name from activists from the Northern American movement to restore social and economic justice!) stormed the compound, containing the Al-Aqsa mosque – the third holiest site in Islam. Adding fuel to the fire, was an Israeli supreme court order earlier this month to allow the right of non-Muslims to pray in Al Aqsa Mosque. Finally, in a move reminiscent of Arial Sharon’s provocative visit to Al Aqsa mosque in 2000 which ignited the second intifada, far-right Israeli politician Moshe Feiglin distributed leaflets calling to remove “Israel’s enemies”, from Islam’s third holiest site.3
Meanwhile, despite criticisms by Palestinians, the US, UN and several Arab States- Israel preliminarily approved a plan to build 600 new settlements, deep inside the West Bank. Yariv Oppenheimer, director of Peace Now, an Israeli group that opposes settlement construction, called it the biggest settlement construction plan in the West Bank since Netanyahu took office three years ago.4 Yet again, the government’s unilateral policies and display of complete contempt, directly undermine ‘peace talks’ – which have been stalled for the past three years, over the issue of Jewish settlements. Unless a massive and just intervention is taken immediately, the results will be devastating, and are likely to trigger catastrophic, wide-spread violence.
‘Master Plan’, or ‘Final Solution’
To understand these ongoing policies, one can look directly to the Israeli government, which routinely publishes its plans involving the further judaization of Jerusalem. The most recent document is titled: “Demography, Geopolitics, and the Future of Israel’s Capital: Jerusalem’s Proposed Master Plan for Jerusalem-2020″ 5 . Within these pages, the Jerusalem Municipality’s District Planning and Building Committee has drawn up the blue print to completely transform the holy city for the three religions – into a Jewish city – by isolating it with a wall of settlements. In order to carry out their goals, official Israeli policies involve home demolitions, dispossession and settlement construction to solidify “the capital and spiritual center of Israel and the Jewish people”.
Since 1967, thousands of Palestinian homes have been demolished, many multiple times over and 20,000 Palestinian housing units face demolition to accommodate new settlements, Old City excavation projects and other Jewish only developments. If successfully implemented, Palestinians will be dispossessed, displaced and excluded from what remains of their city, and future capital. Palestinians comprise about one-third of the city’s population, confined to 7% of its land in mostly inadequate housing. Already, discriminatory measures exist, including encircling densely populated Palestinian neighborhoods by “green space” or “unzoned land” where building is prohibited. Applications to rezone, increase density, or build in small areas designated for residential construction are routinely denied. As a result, new housing can’t accommodate Palestinian population increases.
“Settlements built on the (city’s) outskirts also dissect the continuity between the northern and southern West Bank, jeopardizing the feasibility of a future Palestinian State. As second class residents, the right of East Jerusalem Palestinians to their increasingly occupied city keep eroding, including to their own homes.” While Israel’s Master Plan 2020 declares its goal to plan for the long term fate of East Jerusalem, “it has been prepared with no consultation of any kind with the Palestinian community.” As Stephen Lendman, in one of the few articles which discusses the plan put it, “Why? Because exclusion is eventually planned, though not explicitly stated in 2020′s language.” http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/12/israels-jerusalem-master-plan-2020.html
International Accountability in the Face of Israeli Aggression?
The US officially takes a position against Israeli settlement expansion and future construction projects in East Jerusalem. However, with strong ties to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the influential Jewish lobby in the U.S Barack Obama, has also said that Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel during his campaign in the Democratic primaries for the presidency and has since reiterated that there would be no limits on Jewish construction activity in a “united Jerusalem”. It is well known that right-wing Jewish groups in the US, directly finance the construction of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. Attempts by Israeli right-wing extremists to storm the mosque, are growing by the number and frequency each week. Awqaf officials also blame Arab states’ for the emerging crisis by failing to bring the case to the international community’s attention.”
People of the world taking action, where governments have failed.
For over 64 years, the state of Israel has been obsessed with one racist goal; demographics and keeping a Jewish majority. Some call it apartheid, others ethnic cleansing, the official terms are ethnocracy or ethnocide. Yet one thing is clear, every Israeli government has created policies with one goal in mind – to get, and keep Palestinians out of their homeland – and make way for a purely Jewish state. Meanwhile Europe and the UN, who created this problem, stand idly by and watch as Palestinians endure systematic dispossession and displacement–tantamount to ethnic cleansing.
Today, humanity is at a crossroads–people of the world are beginning to understand that we are the 99% and have far more in common, then our so-called leaders. We have an unprecedented opportunity to choose a new path, and join the millions world wide who have decided to take their destiny into their own hands. In the absence of governmental officials to do what’s legal and moral, Palestinians are calling on global citizen’s of conscious, to take a stand – before it’s too late.
The GMJ has heeded this call, and “inspired firstly by our convictions, secondly by the justice of our cause and thirdly by the spirit of the Arab spring revolution will peacefully march from surrounding countries, to the borders” – to fulfill a dream that lies in the center of every refugees heart, to return home. What makes this journey especially meaningful is not only do Palestinians have the oldest and longest running refugee population in the world, their home is at the center of the deeply contentious struggle to liberate Jerusalem, the capital of the world’s three religions – and quite literally the conscious and soul of humanity.
1. Preparations continue for the Global March to Jerusalem, February, 27, 2012 – http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/news/middle-east/3462-preparations-continue-for-the-global-march-to-jerusalem
2. Amidst Jewish calls to ‘storm Al Aqsa’, Arabs ‘largely silent’ Jordan Times; Rafiq A. Tschannen, February 25th, 2012 – http://www.themuslimtimes.org/2012/02/countries/israel/amidst-jewish-calls-to-storm-al-aqsa-arabs-largely-silent
3. Israeli forces clash with worshipers at Al-Aqsa, Maan News, February 24, 2012 – http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=462853
4. West Bank settlement housing gets initial approval Daniel Estrin, Associated Press, February 22, 2012: http://www.chron.com/news/article/West-Bank-settlement-housing-gets-initial-approval-3349564.php
5. Demography, Geopolitics, and the Future of Israel’s Capital: Jerusalem’s Proposed Master PlanJerusalem Center for Public Affairs – 2010, http://jcpa.org/text/Jerusalem-Master-Plan.pdf
6. Jordan warns Israel over Al Aqsa as tensions reach boiling point: Jordan Times, February 20th – http://www.menafn.com/qn_news_story_s.asp?StoryId=1093485000
7. Israel’s Jerusalem Master Plan 2020 – by Stephen Lendman – Thursday, December 16, 2010 http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/12/israels-jerusalem-master-plan-2020.html
8. From the Global March to Jerusalem, int’l campaign website: http://gm2j.com/main/about/