Anees Sweidan, director of external relations for the PLO, told Arab News that Arab and Muslim leaders must stand up for their historic and religious responsibilities toward the occupied city of Jerusalem. “We are not looking for a statement but a strong and clear position that makes it clear that moving the embassy to Jerusalem will have strong and impactful results.”
Sweidan, who was born in Nablus and lives in Ramallah, says that he, like so many other Palestinians, can not go to Jerusalem to pray or to visit. “For years we have been barred from entering Jerusalem, but despite Trump’s position, which violated international law and goes against world opinion, we will not be stopped from saying that Jerusalem is the capital of our future Palestinian state.”
The Jordan Evangelical Council sent a letter to President Trump asking him to refrain from moving the embassy.
Retired Gen. Imad Mayyah, who heads the Jordan Evangelical Council, told Arab News that for a Jordanian Christian the issue of Jerusalem had the same effect as on any other Arab or on Muslims. “We feel anger about the irresponsible decision by President Trump, which provides rights to those who are undeserving while leaving Palestinian, whether Muslim or Christian, out in the cold.”
Mayyah said that he sees no affiliation with American Christian Zionist evangelicals who are said to be supporting the Trump decision.
“This issue is a national political issue and has nothing to do with our faith.” Mayyah said that he is certain that there are many who misinterpret the Bible and its meaning. “American Evangelicals are making distorted interpretations from a far land without any knowledge of the situation on the ground,” Mayyah told Arab News.
Najwa Najjar, an award-winning Palestinian filmmaker, told Arab News that there was a need to work on two parallel fronts.
“It is true we need to have a strong strategy for supporting the steadfastness of our people in Jerusalem, but at the same time we need to return to the Arab fold.”
Najjar said that since the Arab Spring erupted, Arabs have been so busy with other issues that they have lost interest in Palestine. “We need to revive the Arab spirit supporting the rights of Palestinians. Jerusalem is a unifying issue and we need to find ways to leverage that in a stronger way than we have.”
Najeeb Qadoumi, also a member of the PNC, wrote on his Facebook page that the best way to respond to the Trump speech is by canceling the term negotiations from the lexicon.
“We need to work together in a united way to agree on a strategy that should include different forms of boycotts and efforts to get more countries to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.”
Usually moderate voices in Jerusalem also spoke out against the Trump decision.
Mahdi Abdul Hadi, director of the Palestinian Academic Society for International Affairs (PASSIA), told Arab news that to be steadfast Palestinians needed to respond in kind: “No negotiations, no mediations and no security coordination.”
Abdul Hadi said that the international law and order that Trump violated and Netanyahu challenged forced Palestinians to think in a different way. “We need to find new ways of being steadfast on our land with dignity and at the same time unmask the ethnic cleansing by the apartheid Israeli regime and those who support them.”