AMMAN: Palestinian protests sparked by unrest in Jerusalem have spread throughout the occupied territories, forcing Israeli security services and politicians to pay attention.
Security officials said the escalation in the south, including rockets fired from Gaza, was a direct result of the events in Jerusalem, where clashes broke out between Palestinians and far-right Israeli groups, with authorities calling for a resolution of the conflict before the escalation spreads to other locations.
Former Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member, Hanan Ashrawi, told Arab News that Palestinians would continue their protests.
“Neither Jerusalem nor the rest of Palestine will surrender to the violent hate culture of the Kahanists or to the oppression and brutality of the Israeli occupation. Palestinians will not be bashed into submission. A century of sumoud (steadfastness) and resistance should drive this message home,” he said.
Barak Ravid, reporter for Axios, told Arab News that senior Israeli officials believe problems began after Israeli police unilaterally closed the main entrance of the old city of Jerusalem to Palestinians.
“The tensions started at a time when there is no functioning government and when all of Israel’s political leaders are focused on forming a new one. Inside this vacuum came the Jerusalem police, (who) took (the) tactical decision of putting limitations at one of the entrances to the old city. This decision led to a new crisis that could … escalate further,” he said.
Regarding the upcoming elections and the right of Jerusalem’s Palestinians to participate in them, Ravid added that “Israel is still waiting to see what (Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud) Abbas decides on the election.”
Former Palestinian Minister Ziad Abu Zayyad wrote in the widest circulating Palestinian daily, Al Quds, that Palestinian protests are the response to Israeli intransigence and the international community’s apathy to calls to allow Jerusalem’s Palestinians to participate in the upcoming elections.
“We should not allow the continuation of an authority without the legitimacy of elections, and East Jerusalem should be treated like any other part of the occupied territories that the Israeli occupier might prevent from participating in elections,” he said.
Abu Zayyad argued that the election week should be “a week of protests, and this will be the best referendum about the city’s status.”
Hijazi Risheq, head of the Jerusalem Merchants Committee, said: “The fact that Jerusalemites stood up to the extremists who are supported by the occupation authorities is a pre-election statement that Jerusalem is Arab and Palestinian, and that the people of Jerusalem don’t wait to be directed by anyone.”
Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint Arab List in the Israeli Knesset, tweeted that he had sent a message to the Minister of Interior Security Amir Ohana, to stop right-wing Israeli incitement in Jerusalem.
“But Ohana is a puppet in the hands of (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu, who is in big trouble and is on his last days in power,” he added.