Settlement Projects Designed to Strangle Jerusalem

2 October 2009

Last month saw several attempts by illegal Israeli settlers to storm the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. They were protected and helped by the Israeli police under orders from the extremist right-wing Israeli Government who wish to test the level of Arab/Islamic resistance should they attempt to demolish the mosque and build the alleged temple of Solomon on its rubble or near it. As if this were not enough, the Israeli Government was simultaneously preparing the ground to build about 4,000 housing units in the large settlement communities surrounding the holy city in order to tighten the Israeli grip on it and completely isolate it from the rest of the occupied Arab lands.

The result of this test was extremely positive for the Israelis because the Arab/Islamic response was lukewarm. Some well-worn standard statements were made, but nothing of any significance was done by the Arabs to oppose Israel's actions, and Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa publicly admitted this shameful fact, as if by doing so he were exonerating himself and his conscience of any responsibility or blame in the matter.

There was an Arab/Islamic silence about the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard just as there had been earlier when the mosque's foundations were being weakened by excavation activities undertaken by the Israeli Antiquities Authority, the right-wing group Elad and Israeli settlers who are building a network of tunnels under it. It is this silence that encourages the Netanyahu government not only to reject Arab and international calls to freeze settlement activity, but to expand it, building the largest possible number of housing units in the settlements that currently exist on various pretexts, including natural growth.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA), which is supposed to be the standard-bearer in defence of the holy places, is instead preparing to send a delegation to Washington in response to a US invitation to resume negotiations with Israeli officials, as if what is happening in and around the holy city does not concern it all.

Some influential Arab governments are pressing PNA President Mahmud Abbas not to boycott the negotiations because they do not wish to anger the current US Administration, which they describe as a friend of the Arabs. These governments do so not because they are concerned for the Palestinian issue, but to justify their own inaction over the Al-Aqsa Mosque; they do not want to confront Israel at a time when they aspire to a secret alliance with it to face off increasing Iranian military and strategic power in the region.

In order to justify their failure to make any move to protect the Islamic holy places in occupied Jerusalem against the stepped up Judaization acts, some Arab officials say that they cannot be Palestinian more than the Palestinians themselves. They also say that, so long as the upholders of the cause negotiate and meet with the Israelis who build the settlements, they can do nothing.

The Palestinian people who live inside the so-called Green Line are boiling with increasing fury. They were the only ones who rose up to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque and are now engaged in a campaign of civil disobedience, involving all their communities, which also marks the 9th anniversary of the October 2000 uprising. During that uprising, 13 Palestinian youths were martyred when they protested against Sharon's storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It was Sharon's action that triggered the second intifadah.

We wonder why the sons of the areas seized in 1948 rise up with the force that we currently see, while their brothers in the PNA areas stand by. The answer is simple. It is the Dayton security forces(1), which protect the Israeli settlements and repress the people in the name of Palestine.


(1) PNA security forces which have been trained by Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, US Security Coordinator.