Arab Parliament says Jerusalem crisis not a ‘real-estate dispute’

Speakers condemn eviction threats against East Jerusalem families and attacks on Al Aqsa worshippers

The pan-Arab body held a virtual session hosted by the UAE and led by the Head of the Arab Parliament and Speaker of the Federal National Council, Saqr Ghobash. Victor Besa / The National
The pan-Arab body held a virtual session hosted by the UAE and led by the Head of the Arab Parliament and Speaker of the Federal National Council, Saqr Ghobash. Victor Besa / The National

The Arab Parliament on Wednesday condemned Israeli attempts to undermine the Islamic and Christian character of Jerusalem and paint the crisis in the city as a property dispute.

The pan-Arab body held an online session hosted by the UAE and led by the head of the Arab Parliament and Speaker of the UAE Federal National Council, Saqr Ghobash.

Speakers from member states strongly condemned Israeli attacks on Palestinian worshippers in Al Aqsa Mosque and the attempts by Jewish settler groups to confiscate Palestinian land in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

“We are condemning Israel for its human rights violations in Jerusalem and forced evictions of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah,” Mr Ghobash said.

“We will stand up with the Palestinians against Israel’s relentless efforts to implement its Judaisation of Jerusalem scheme, which directly obliterates the sanctity of both Muslim and Christian holy sites in Al Quds.”

The speaker of the Jordanian parliament said that what Israel calls a "real-estate dispute" is a microcosm of the disproportionate use of force and the unbalanced Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Tension rose in Jerusalem over the threatened evictions of Palestinian families living in Sheikh Jarrah and clashes erupted inside Al Aqsa Mosque when Israeli security forces entered the compound during Friday prayers.

Action not words

The Arab League created the Arab Parliament in 2001. Its headquarters was in Damascus until 2012, when many countries cut ties with Syria at the start of the civil war.

The parliament’s statements are non-binding.

The heads of Arab parliaments said that, since Israel illegally annexed East Jerusalem after the 1967 war, the country has enacted policies and plans to create an “Israeli-Jewish Jerusalem”.

Several speakers used strong language in fiery speeches, labelling Israel an enemy as tension in the region continues to boil.

The Lebanese representative used part of his speech to recite an Arab poem that speaks of love for Jerusalem.

But the Palestinian delegate, the secretary general of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mohamed Sobeih, told the session they wanted actions not words.

“Israelis’ racist fires have been raging in Al Quds while the people of Gaza are coming under a new aggression from a pariah state.”

The head of the Qatari Consultative Assembly, Ahmed Al Mahmoud, said: “We want to restore the trust of the Arab peoples. It’s high time we acted now and there should be no compromise about the Palestinian cause.”

Speaker of the Kuwaiti Parliament, Marzouk Al Ghanim, said any symbolic act in the Arab world helps to support the Palestinian cause.

“You are not alone in this struggle,” he said, addressing the Palestinians.

The latest violence and hostilities in Jerusalem and the Gaza strip are the most intense in years.

Militant groups, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, launched more than 1,000 rockets, including hundreds aimed at Tel Aviv, according to the Israeli Army.

Israel responded with devastating air strikes on Gaza, killing dozens of Palestinians, including children and at least two senior Hamas leaders.

The wave of clashes in mixed Jewish-Arab towns fuelled fears that the violence could spiral into a third intifada.

Updated: May 12, 2021 10:35 PM

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