Jerusalem Caught in the Middle of Arab Multinational Politics
Various Arab countries throughout the world have political disagreements with one another. More specifically, they have brewing arguments with the “palestinian authority.” And, in turn, these issues manifest themselves in ways that directly affect Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. This article explains more…
Illustrative Photo By: Randall Niles [License]
How Fault Lines in the PA and the Arab World Affect Jerusalem
Article Courtesy: JCPA.org
In a general sense, east Jerusalem is disengaging from Ramallah and the West Bank and connecting with Israel. However, tensions over the Temple Mount are hard to control and may change this situation completely. The process of connecting to Israel shapes the city, but undermining the order on the Temple Mount may affect the whole of Jerusalem.
The process of connecting east Jerusalem to Israel runs parallel to the crumbling of the Palestinian Authority. Divided Hebron has close connections with Jordan, there is tension between Jenin and Ramallah, and Ramallah, which represents the “Palestinian concept” more than anywhere else, vigilantly watches over a headstrong Nablus, following the appointment of prime ministers from Nablus.
It will not be surprising if east Jerusalem residents decide to participate in the next Jerusalem municipality elections, an act that some Palestinians toyed with in the past but were discouraged by Palestinian Authority threats.
At the same time, the West Bank is also drawing away from east Jerusalem. It is hard to find any Facebook posts by West Bank residents identifying themselves with Jerusalem. Whatever goes on in the city does not interest residents of the other cities in the West Bank. During the crisis over the security magnetometers on the Temple Mount in July 2017, for example, the conflict was waged by east Jerusalem residents only. No other city cared.
Sources in Nablus have reported that the Palestinian Authority tried to recruit public figures in Nablus to join the conflict over Khan al-Ahmar, a squatter camp on the road to Jericho, but they refused.
Public institutions in east Jerusalem report that the Palestinian Authority has stopped financing them. This includes hospitals such as Makassed, which receives patients from the Palestinian Authority, and the Augusta Victoria hospital.
Al-Quds University has requested to join Israel’s Council for Higher Education, and as a result, the Palestinian Authority fired lecturers from east Jerusalem, supplanting them with lecturers from the West Bank who support Fatah.
Former university president Sari Nusseibeh is a top lecturer known for advocating the integration of east Jerusalem with Israel. The schism between Nusseibeh and Ramallah is seen in his appointment by Abu Dhabi as the head of an economic fund for east Jerusalem that has no connection with Ramallah. Since Mahmoud Abbas’ main rival in Fatah, Muhammad Dahlan, has his powerbase in the Gulf, it is assumed in east Jerusalem that Nusseibeh has also become part of Dahlan’s network in east Jerusalem.
At present, the economic fund concerns small sums, but it should be noted that in the fund’s mission statement there is no mention of any national disputes, such as saving the Al-Aqsa Mosque and opposing Jewish “settlements”– only financial objectives for supporting the residents of the city.
The youth of east Jerusalem are still connected to Ramallah by the Arab cultural events that Ramallah offers and its good restaurants, which are cheaper than those in Jerusalem. Israeli Arabs are also attracted to this aspect of Ramallah, which offers them the Arab culture that is hard for them to find in Israel.
This connection to Ramallah on the part of the youth of east Jerusalem and Israel is not seen in a positive light by the Palestinian Authority. From their point of view, the Israeli Arabs and residents of east Jerusalem are “corrupting” the spirit of the struggle that the Palestinian Authority wants to nurture among the younger generation of Palestinians.
This was expressed sharply at two large festivals in the new West Bank town of Rawabi that were held at the same time as other significant national events. One of them took place on the day the U.S. embassy was transferred to Jerusalem in May 2018, and the other was held on the day of a general strike protesting the new Israeli Basic Law declaring Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People.
The Muqata (the PA headquarters) was particularly incensed by the fact that on the “global day of rage” marking the transfer of the embassy, east Jerusalem and Israeli Arab youths partied with drinking and dancing in Rawabi instead of attacking IDF checkpoints. Moreover, it was Gaza with its “Return Marches” that filled the world’s screens. “The [Rawabi] scene is disgusting and shameful and disgusts the souls of the honorable people,” was one Facebook posting.9
As a result of failing to react to the embassy opening, the Palestinian Authority dismissed all Fatah activists from their positions in Jerusalem and appointed a disreputable governor, Adnan Ghaith. This caused further distancing between east Jerusalem and Ramallah.
Senior officials sacked by Ramallah, such as Khatam Abdel Khader and Adnan al-Husayni, were later appointed by Jordan as members of the Waqf council to oversee the Temple Mount.
The events in Rawabi shocked the Muqata, and the whole issue was passed on to its security branches. As a result, then-Prime Minister Hamdallah’s government circulated an order requiring Israeli Arabs and east Jerusalem residents to report to the police if they want to rent an apartment in Ramallah or the West Bank in general. In other words, for the first time, the Palestinian Authority has recognized that residents of east Jerusalem are part of the Israeli Arab community and could be potentially recruited by Israeli intelligence against the Palestinian Authority.
These processes erasing the West Bank Palestinian identity require Ramallah to leverage the tension on the Temple Mount to put a stop to them. From the PA’s point of view, it is essential that the youth preserve the spirit of resistance for the next generations, with the knowledge that the present generation of leaders has failed in their mission of liberation.
In the face of Hamas’ success in leveraging the tensions on the Gaza border, the Palestinian Authority is pushing to the forefront the protection of the Temple Mount, as well as other issues related to Jerusalem, such as the potential demolition of the Khan al-Ahmar Bedouin shanty town on the Jerusalem-Jericho road.
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