Occupied East Jerusalem — Only a Question of Demographics?!?

Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz said on Wednesday, June 8, that if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were really serious about the establishment of a Palestinian state, he should have announced a construction freeze on Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. “I don’t believe Netanyahu’s slogans and don’t think he is proceeding toward a two-state process,” Peretz told a campus forum sponsored by Haaretz at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Remarking that now with the addition of the Yisrael Beiteinu party to Netanyahu’s coalition, it is even more extremist right-wing, Peretz rhetorically addressed the coalition government saying: “You have your chance. Let’s see you annex all of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. Let’s see all those talkers.”

Far-right Jerusalem Day marchers heading towards the Old City’s Damascus Gate into the Muslim Quarter, June 5, 2016

Far-right Jerusalem Day marchers heading towards the Old City’s Damascus Gate into the Muslim Quarter, June 5, 2016 (Photo: Activestills)

Then, apparently addressing Netanyahu himself, he added: “But if you are incapable of annexation, then get out of the way; the more we advance the process, the smaller the cost will be. Anyone who says that we’ve gone beyond the point of no return on a two-state solution is mistaken and is being deceptive.” Peretz devoted a major portion of his remarks to demographics. He noted that, in the last municipal elections, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was elected to office with 106,000 votes, while 210,000 Palestinian residents on the voting rolls in the city chose not to turn out to vote because the Israel occupation. “They could have decided the election and chosen their mayor.”

Hadash Knesset member Aida Touma-Sliman of the Joint List parliamentary faction responded to Peretz’s remarks saying: “I had to listen to an entire lecture in which I was related to as a demographic problem.” The Joint List’s Touma-Sliman responded: “This is discourse of the white man providing salvation to the barbarians, and unfortunately, it’s a discourse that is being made legitimate. Peoples don’t enjoy living under occupation. The Palestinian people are not beggars. The Israeli government aims to bring about a situation in which a Palestinian’s only concern is how he can provide a scrap of bread for his children, and with that he’ll make do; but there isn’t a people that will make do with just that.”

The Jerusalem Day march on Sunday of last week, June 5, passed through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, as planned, after the Supreme Court rejected an urgent petition asking that the march be rerouted to avoid friction with the Old City’s Palestinian population. Jerusalem Day is an Israeli national holiday commemorating the establishment of Israeli occupation over the Old City in the 1967 Six-Day War. The annual march, which is traditionally held in the late afternoon, is typically attended by tens of thousands of far-right and racist religious Zionist youth, and is usually a source of friction and flare-ups in the Old City. This year, as usual, racist insults were hurled by marchers at Arabs and instances of vandalism were reported.

Before the march a week ago, Hadash MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) severely criticized the court’s decision to permit the marchers to enter the Muslim Quarter on the eve of Ramadan. “This is a provocative, racist and violent march the sole purpose of which is to terrorize the Palestinian merchants of the Muslim Quarter,” he said. “On the evening in which Palestinians celebrate Ramadan, a month of tolerance and brotherhood, the police chose, and the Supreme Court approved, to allow marchers to provoke Palestinians, insult them and sow hatred an fear. “Can anyone imagine that the police would allow a similar march of Palestinians to pass through the Jewish Quarter on the eve of Passover?” Jabareen asked. “East Jerusalem is part of the Palestinian lands occupied in 1967, and no march, no matter how racist, will change this.”


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