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October 7, 2009

O Jerusalem

The Canadian Charger

Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, a Palestinian Muslim leader and an Israeli citizen was arrested yesterday.

He called on all Muslims to come to Al-Aqsa Mosque and remain inside for as long as it takes "to protect Al-Aqsa."

"As long as there is occupation, there is danger [to the mosque]. We must be in a state of constant readiness because of the potential damage to 1 billion Muslims. Al-Quds is ours and was, and is, sacred ground for Muslims. That is our position. We will not concede even if we die for this position. We will continue with these measures for as long as Al-Aqsa is under threat."

Last week, Zionist Jewish settlers entered Muslim holy sites in occupied Arab East Jerusalem and performed acts of worship.

“What is being planned for Jerusalem is very dangerous,” declared Archbishop Atallah Hanna, one of the highest-ranking Christian clergymen in Jerusalem.

“We, as Christian Palestinians and Jerusalemites, cannot keep watching with our hands folded in the face of what happened today. Today it is Al-Aqsa; tomorrow it will be the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.” The [Israeli] occupation and its racism do not exclude anyone.”

In 2005, Hanna was ordained Archbishop of Sebastia for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which Orthodox Christians consider the mother church of all of Christendom.

He reaffirmed the solidarity of Palestinian Christians with their Muslim comrades throughout the Holy Land: “Targeting them is the same as us; attacking them is attacking us.”

Palestinian Dr. Saeb Erekat accused the Israeli authorities of escorting them from the Israeli-occupied West Bank, an act deliberately designed to provoke a reaction.

He added in a statement before meetings later this week with U.S. President Barack Obama's envoy, "Israel is lighting matches in the hope of sparking a fire, deliberately escalating  tensions in occupied East Jerusalem rather than taking steps to placate the situation."

For more than 20 years, half of the Ibrahimi mosque, which houses the Tomb of Abraham in the occupied West Bank city of Al-Khalil, was taken by force to allow Zionist Jews to worship. (Western media did not report this fact).

Arab East Jerusalem, including the Walled Old City, has been under Israeli occupation for 42 years.

During that time, Israeli authorities managed to manipulate most Western media into dropping the more accurate name of “Arab East Jerusalem.”

But this does not change the legal, moral, or historical fact that it is part of the West Bank, which has been illegally occupied by Israel since June 1967.

Since then, in defiance of international laws governing the behaviour of occupying powers toward their occupied peoples, Israel has demolished more than 5,000 Palestinian homes in AEJ alone, using the pretext that they were constructed without a licence.

Jewish settlers have also seized and occupied Palestinian properties within the historic Old City precincts, most of which are located adjacent to Muslim holy places.

In all, Israel has confiscated more than half of AEJ for the construction of Jewish settlements, and the Israeli Construction and Housing Ministry earmarks millions for arming Jewish settlers.

Israel's “Greater Jerusalem” plan is aimed at strengthening the Zionist vision of a metropolitan Jerusalem that covers 30 per cent of the West Bank.

As a result of this continual destruction, dislocation and incursion, Palestinian residents of Arab East Jerusalem live a miserable life.

Although they were born in the city, have no other home, and are classified as permanent residents, Israel nevertheless treats them as immigrants.

Any Palestinian living in AEJ (whether Muslim or Christian) who marries a Palestinian from outside the city boundaries, is forbidden to return once he or she leaves. This insidious policy of “quiet deportation” has resulted in the revocation of identity cards of former Palestinian residents of the city.

Naif Abu Mayaleh, 51, who owns two little shops in the Muslim Quarter of the Walled Old City, reported that a Jewish settler organization offered him a blank cheque, plane tickets, and U.S. visas in exchange for his properties.

“My people have paid for this city with their blood. I cannot, I will not, sell to these people,” he said.

Having refused to sell his properties, Abu Mayaleh has been victimized by a campaign of terror waged by the settlers. He spoke of how they physically abused him and vandalized his shops on countless occasions throughout the past 26 years.

Policies aimed at creating new de facto realities on the ground are designed to affect the outcome of final status peace negotiations in Israel’s favour, but here is a brutal irony.

Despite the Crusaders’ massacre of Jerusalem’s Muslim and Jewish inhabitants, it was Salaheddin (or Saladin) the Muslim leader, who restored the city’s Jewish presence and admitted Jews who were fleeing persecution in Christian Europe.

Unfortunately, it does not matter one iota that numerous Palestinians—some still living in Jerusalem, and others in Diaspora communities, including Canada—can retrace in their minds the steps they took years ago from their front doors to their olive groves.

What matters is that they can no longer walk those paths, because the houses and olive groves of their heritage have been bulldozed into oblivion.

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