Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
The Story behind the Jerusalem Attack:
How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed
Palestinians to A Corner
By Ramzy Baroud
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, July
Trump and Netanyahu 2017: No two-state solution anymore
Israeli occupation soldiers abducting a Palestinian young man in
Bethlehem, July 24, 2017
Early October 2016, Misbah
Abu Sbeih left his wife and five children at home and then drove to
an Israeli police station in Occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem.
The 39-year-old Jerusalemite was scheduled to hand himself over to serve
a term of 4 months in jail for, allegedly, trumped up charges of 'trying
to hit an Israeli soldier'.
Misbah is familiar with Israeli
prisons, having been held there before on political charges, including
an attempt to sneak into and pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Mosque is part of a large compound known as Haram
al-Sharif, which includes - aside from Al-Aqsa - the famed Dome of
the Rock and other Palestinian Muslim sites, revered by Muslims
Al-Aqsa is believed to be the second
mosque ever to be built, the first being Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.
The Holy Quran mentions it as the place from which Prophet Mohammed
ascended to heaven, journeying from Mecca to Jerusalem.
Palestinians, Muslims and Christians alike, the Mosque took on a new
meaning following the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian city of
al-Quds (East Jerusalem) in 1967.
Scenes of Israeli soldiers raising the Israeli flag over Muslim and
Christian shrines in the city fifty years ago, is burnt into the
collective memory of several generations.
therefore, that the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound has been the focal
point of clashes between Palestinian worshipers and the Israeli
Daily visitors to the Muslim holy shrines in Jerusalem
include non-Muslims tourists. They are often welcomed by the Al-Waqf administration,
which is the Islamic religious trust that manages the holy shrines, a
practice dating back 500 years.
Even after the Israeli
occupation of the Arab city, al-Waqf has continued to be the caretaker
of the Muslim site, as arranged between the Jordanian government and
Israeli design in the occupied city, however, is far
greater than the Mosque itself. Last April, the Israeli government announced
plans to build 15,000 new housing units in Occupied Jerusalem,
contrary to international law.
The international community
recognizes East Jerusalem as a Palestinian city. The United States, too,
accepts international consensus on Jerusalem, and attempts by the US
Congress to challenge the White House on this understanding have all
failed. That is, until Donald Trump came to power.
Prior to his
inauguration in January, Trump had promised to relocate the American
embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The announcement was welcomed by
Israeli rightwing politicians and extremists alike. Many of Israel's
supporters in the US saw this as a good sign of the Trump presidency.
While the US embassy is yet to officially move to Jerusalem, the
new administration is sending a message that it is no longer bound by
international law with regard to the Occupied Territories.
only is the US abandoning its self-tailored role as a 'peace broker'
between Israel and the Palestinian leadership, but it is sending a clear
signal to Israel that there can be no pressure on Israel regarding the
status of Jerusalem.
In response, the United Nations and its
various institutions have moved quickly to reassure Palestinians.
The UN cultural agency, UNESCO, has been the most active in this regard.
Despite US-Israeli pressure, several resolutions have been passed by
UNESCO and the UN General Assembly in recent months, which have
reaffirmed Palestinian rights in the city.
Israel and the US
moved to punish Palestinians for UNESCO’s decisions.
when the Israeli Knesset began pushing laws that make life even more
difficult for Palestinian Jerusalemites, including a law that limits
the Muslim call for prayer. The law, which passed its second reading
last March, was championed by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin
Israeli police expanded the ever-growing list of
Palestinians who are not allowed to reach their houses of worship. The
list included Misbah Abu Sbeih, who was repeatedly arrested, beaten and
incarcerated by the Israeli police.
The Israeli government then
opened up the flood gates of settlement expansion in the occupied city,
after being partially limited during the presidency of Barack Obama. In
part, that was Netanyahu’s response to UN
Resolution 2334, which demanded an immediate halt to Israeli
settlement construction in Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories.
Concurrently, the new US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, took on the
task of silencing any international criticism of the Israeli occupation,
calling international attempts to end the occupation a form of 'bullying.'
Assured by the unconditional US support, Netanyahu moved to new
extremes. He severed his country's ties
with UNESCO and called for the dismantlement of UN headquarters in
the occupied Palestinian city.
East Jerusalem was already
illegally annexed by Israeli in 1981, but without international
acceptance of such a measure, the Israeli move seemed pointless.
Now, Israel feels that times are changing, as the Trump administration
offers Israel a window of opportunity to normalize its illegal
occupation and annexation of the city.
In recent months,
Palestinians have responded in myriad ways. They have worked with
various countries across the globe to challenge the Israeli-US plans.
Most Palestinian efforts, although successful to some extent, have
failed to sway Israel in any way.
The political upheaval has
translated on the ground to more violence, as thousands of Israeli
occupation soldiers and police were rushed to the city to restrict
Palestinian movement and to block thousands of worshipers from reaching
Al-Aqsa. Hundreds were detained in a massive security campaign.
In the absence of a strong leadership, Palestinians are growingly
increasingly desperate and angry. The Palestinian Authority is largely
busy in its own pitiful power struggles and appears to have no time for
Palestinians, who are left with little hope for a political horizon and
no clear sense of direction.
While thousands of Palestinians
have resisted through constantly attempting to reach Al-Aqsa or
demonstrated in protest, others are “reaching the breaking point”. One
is Misbah Abu Sbeih.
Once he arrived at the Israeli military
police station, Mishbah did not give himself up. Instead, he opened
fire, killing an Israeli army office from the 'Yassam' unit and another
Israeli. He was killed instantly.
Other attacks followed. On
Friday, July 14, the holiest day of the week in the Muslim calendar,
three Palestinian men attacked Israeli soldiers and police officers
stationed near one of the Haram's gates.
two Israeli officers, and were killed by occupation soldiers, soon
after. This is the first time that an attack of this nature has been
recorded inside the Al-Aqsa compound. Since 1967, only Israelis have
used arms in violent clashes with Palestinians. Hundreds of Palestinians
have been killed in or around this holy shrine throughout the years.
Last June in Jerusalem, speaking to a crowd celebrating the 50th
anniversary of the Israeli military occupation of the city, Israeli
Prime Minister, Netanyahu
declared that the al-Aqsa Mosque compound would "forever remain
under Israeli sovereignty."
Empowered by the Trump
administration and assured by Haley's tactics at the UN, Netanyahu feels
that his dream of subduing East Jerusalem is being realized. The price
of Netanyahu’s dream, however, is likely to be costly.
day of the attack, several
Palestinians were killed in various parts of the West Bank and a
from Gaza died while awaiting a permit to cross from the besieged
region to the West Bank for treatment. None of this registered in
international media. The armed Palestinian attack on Israeli soldiers,
however, made headlines around the world.
More violence is
likely to follow. Palestinians, who are dying without much media
coverage, are desperate and angry as their holy city is crumbling under
the heavy boots of soldiers, amid international silence and
unconditional US support for the Israeli government.
- Dr. Ramzy
Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is
an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author
of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His books
include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second Palestinian Intifada” and his
latest “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story”. His
website is www.ramzybaroud.net.
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