Israeli-Palestinian MKs cower to Netanyahu’s calls to end the protests

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A protestor holds a portrait of Mohammed Abu Khudair, a 16-year-old Palestinian from east Jerusalem who was kidnapped and killed in a suspected revenge attack, during a protest in the northern Israeli Arab city of Acre on July 7, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Ahmed Gharabli)

By: Jamal Sweid

Published Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The sight of protests and burning garbage containers bothered some Israeli-Palestinian MKs in the Israeli Knesset, who made a call to "stop the violence and put an end to the protests." Along with several party leaders and municipality officials, they responded to Netanyahu's calls to pacify the street despite popular demands.

Haifa – The charred body of Mohammed Abu Khudair from Jerusalem, which was left outside of Deir Yassin, brings back memories of the massacre in the same village which took place in 1948. The slaughter symbolized Israel's brutality in the Palestinian psyche, causing popular unrest from Jerusalem to the occupied territories.

Clashes erupted in the occupied capital's neighborhoods before Abu Khudair's body was recovered and continued after his funeral. They quickly spread to the cities of 1948 occupied Palestine, but remained subject to a relative media blackout in an effort to contain them.

However, with the continued and escalating clashes in Jerusalem, the demonstrations in the cities and towns near Haifa turned into real clashes. They spread north to Umm al-Fahm and Wadi Ara, whose main road – considered a main artery linking central occupied Palestine with its north – was blocked.

On Saturday, confrontations between Palestinian youths and the occupation police extended to Nazareth in northern occupied Palestine. The streets of Nazareth seemed to be witnessing a war. By Sunday night, Israeli police were deployed in the remaining villages and cities of Galilee, such as Shafa Amr, Tamra, Arraba, Kfar Manda, and others.

This brought back memories of al-Aqsa [second] intifada in the minds of Israelis, who fell into a state of confusion following the end of the 48-hour ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. This forced them to extend the deadline as they looked for a solution in what they call [in reference to Gaza] the "soft spot," which threatened to evolve into a full-blown intifada and spread to the West Bank.

As a result of this pressure, the conflict between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman became public. "Throwing rocks at soldiers and the police in the state of Israel will not be allowed," Netanyahu warned in a strongly worded statement addressed to Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. He requested from "leaders of the Arab community in Israel" to "restore the calm to its previous state."

Netanyahu's orders were implemented immediately. Successive statements were issued by Arab parties and movements calling for calm in the streets. They denounced what they termed "violence and destruction of public property."

While there was no evidence of a single assault by demonstrators against public utilities, some Israeli-Palestinian Knesset members strongly denounced setting garbage containers on fire. Similarly, Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam described the confrontations as "rioting carried out by thugs," calling for "calm and an end to the vandalism."

On the other hand, head of the national committee of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, Mazen Ghanayem, called on Netanyahu to take measures against "members of the mini-cabinet who incite against the Arab public in Israel." He was referring to ministers such as Lieberman during a meeting with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who promised to inform the cabinet of financial troubles faced by Arab local authorities.

Commenting on the situation, secretary of the Popular Committee for Solidarity with the Leadership and People of the Interior, Wasfi Abdul-Ghani, described such calls as "attempts to silence the streets." However, he was confident about "the awareness of our youth and our people and their ability to separate the wheat from the chaff."

The Palestinian reaction "was in condemnation of the heinous crime and to prevent the occupation authorities from covering up the scene as usual when it comes to crimes by settler gangs," Abdul-Ghani explained to Al-Akhbar. "The reaction was spontaneous and not supported by the [Palestinian National] Authority or the leaders of the interior of all backgrounds."

The anger in the streets seemed to embarrass Arab officials in the national committee and the various parties. Their statements seemed shy and awkward, squeezed between public fury and Netanyahu's threats.

The recent events over the weekend led to hundreds detained and large numbers of people injured. No martyrs have fallen yet, due to fears by Israeli police that this would ignite an intifada. However, the Israeli government as a whole is demanding that Arab leadership stifle any popular mobilization, preventing from spreading and continuing.

In an attempt to calm the situation, Israeli radio mentioned that Netanyahu had called Hussein Abu Khudair, Mohammed's father, and expressed "his shock and the shock of Israeli citizens for the abominable killing of his son." Netanyahu promised to prosecute the killers and "rejects their brutal behavior."

Abu Khudair commented on the news, telling the media the he "received dozens of calls from foreigners and Israelis," but was not aware that the Israeli prime minister was one of them. He was surprised to see the story in the news. However, he rejected Netanyahu's condolences since "he is the one giving the orders to kill Palestinians."

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


Ali Salam, the Mayor of Nazereth was supported by both factions of the Islamic Movement (the Muslim Brotherhood in the 48 territories) at the last election against the candidate of the Communist Party, in Acre an ex parliament member of the Islamic Movement Sheikh Abbas Zakhur stood together with the imam of the biggest mosque in the city, the chairman of the local Waqf and a bunch of thugs to stop a demonstration. If anyone wondered the interests of whom serve the Islamists in the region.

Thanks for reporting on developments and reactions among Palestinians in areas colonized by Israel in 1948, and their reactions to recent Israeli attacks against Palestinians in areas colonized by Israel in 1967. Still the story is not complete, and can contribute to misunderstanding of the politics among the so called '48 Palestinians, which you call "Israeli Arabs," a term that was given to them by the Zionist Israeli settler colonial state.
I am glad you mention that their demonstrations, arrests, beating, was blocked in the news. But why?
While you mention for example that the mayor of Nazareth--Ali Sallam-kind of went along Israeli officials' calls for "calm", you did not mention that the vice mayor resigned in response to the position of the mayor. Nor you mention that despite Israeli officials threats, the Communist/Progressive Alliance (Al-Jabha), the "nationalist" Party (Al-Tajammu') and other groups including Islamist ones, called for and have been demonstrating and clashing with Israeli police special units for days, and over hundred already arrested, and that people's homes are being being attacked by Israeli "security" forces. These are also the people who are totally dependent on the Israeli state economically and for all services they need. These are the same people who cannot travel to Lebanon because they are considered "Israelis." These are the same people who were left alone in 1948. These are the same people who Mahmoud Darwish grew among them, so also Samih Al-Qasim and others. These are the same people who remain absent from Arab politics (not sure why), and absent from Israeli settler colonial racist politics (clearly understood why). They are present in Israeli/Zionist politics only as a sign of absence, and they are absent in Arab politics only as a sign of claimed presence.



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