JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities appear set to re-route the traditional Jerusalem Unity Day parade which has been known to be provocative and anti-Arab.
Israeli media reported that security officials on Sunday urged the government to rethink the annual event, a flag-waving display of Israeli claims to all of the contested city set to take place Monday, following days of unrest and Israeli-Palestinian clashes in the capital.
Ynet reported that Israeli security officials “called for the government to reconsider the route, the number of marchers, and even the event itself.”
Persistent and widespread protests in Jerusalem have brought worldwide condemnation of Israel, and the security establishment appears to have won the day in pressing right-wing politicians to lower tensions.
Protests continued in the Old City and in the streets of East Jerusalem, with Red Crescent officials reporting injuries and saying that Israeli police were obstructing their work.
Parades are also scheduled to coincide with an Israeli court decision about an appeal request against eviction orders for Palestinian families living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Tens of thousands of people, including many Palestinian citizens of Israel, flooded Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque to commemorate the holy night of Laylat Al-Qadar, the first revelation of the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad.
Most people have vowed to stay in Al-Aqsa to protect it from public calls from Jewish extremist groups.
The mosque’s preacher Ekrima Sabri said that what happened on Monday would depend on the occupiers.
“For our part, we are holding onto our mosque and our faith and will defend it until the last breath,” he told Arab News.
Prof. Sari Nusseibeh, the former president of Al-Quds University, said what was happening in the city was a wake-up call.
“Events in Jerusalem have reminded Israel and the rest of the world that peace with the continued occupation is impossible, as is Israeli sovereignty over Arab Jerusalem,” he told Arab News. “Palestinians will not disappear with the passing of time, nor will justice. Israel will not have a future if it continues to trample on Palestinian rights and their national and religious sites and symbols.”
Ahmad Budeiri, Al-Ghad TV reporter in Jerusalem, summarized the situation as favoring the Palestinians in the short-term as long as the protests on the ground kept the pressure on.
“There is no doubt that the protests in Jerusalem and the persistence of Jerusalemites to defended their homes in Sheikh Jarrah and their holy places is what moved the international community as well as the Israeli security forces and to react,” said Ahmad Budeiri.
But it might be a temporary victory because the overall strategy of the Israelis would not be easily changed, he added.
In Amman, there were protests calling on the government to close down the Israeli embassy in Jordan and to recall the Jordanian ambassador from Tel Aviv.
The Arab League has agreed to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the issues around Jerusalem, including the Israeli attacks against worshippers in Al-Aqsa and Israeli plans to evict Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah.
In Kuwait, football players wore the Palestinian keffiyeh as a sign of support for the people of Jerusalem.
Luis Miguel Bueno, an EU diplomat who is the bloc’s official Arabic spokesman, condemned the attacks and the incitement against the faithful.
“The occupation forces must respect its obligations according to international law,” he tweeted in Arabic. “We call for the immediate de-escalation. East Jerusalem is part of the occupied territories for which international humanitarian law applies.”
The Jerusalem Waqf Council called on people to stay overnight at Al-Aqsa as a precaution to ensure that radical Jewish groups would be deterred from entering the mosque.
It promised to provide iftar and suhoor to all free of charge.