The fight over Jerusalem

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Fanatic Jewish settlers holding Israeli flags take part in an annual flag day march passing through the Damascus Gate to Old City of Jerusalem on May 18, 2023. [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

The issue of the Flag March imposes itself on Palestinian decision-makers, becoming a symbol of the Judaisation of Jerusalem and part of the battle for sovereignty over it, through which successive Israeli governments are trying to establish that Jerusalem is united under Israeli sovereignty.

The march, whose tradition began in the 1970s, passes through western Jerusalem, Hebron Gate in the Old City and Al-Buraq Wall. However, gatherings did not take place at the gates of Al-Aqsa, nor were Talmudic dances performed.

The Flag March’s path developed while maintaining the old route. Religious Zionist groups began taking a new path from the western part of Jerusalem, through Damascus Gate, Al-Wad Street, the Islamic Quarter and then Al-Buraq Wall. Settlers gathered at Damascus Gate and provocatively performed Talmudic dances in addition to insulting Arabs.

The march is considered one of the national marches, and the settler ministers participated this year. They did not consider their relations with the international community that classifies East Jerusalem as a Palestinian city, and the groups have become bolder in talking about a united Jerusalem after former US President Donald Trump signed an agreement recognising Jerusalem as the unified capital of the occupation state.

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There has been more focus on the Flag March since the Sword of Jerusalem battle that broke out as a result of several factors, such as attempts to displace the residents of Sheikh Jarrah, attacks on those in seclusion in Al-Aqsa Mosque and an attempt to prevent Palestinians from gathering at Damascus Gate.

There is no doubt that the conflict in Jerusalem and the process of Judaising it will not end with a single military battle at the present time. This is especially since the march is a media and moral manifestation related to the Judaisation strategy that includes demolishing homes, preventing new Palestinian construction in Jerusalem, dismantling the demographic structure of Palestinians, making the Palestinian neighbourhoods mixed, Israelising Palestinian education and preventing Palestinian institutions from being present in Jerusalem.

The Sword of Jerusalem battle was built on the state of confrontation that Sheikh Jarrah witnessed, and it reached a stage of daily clashes, which provided the resistance supporters with conviction that the battle was necessary. This eased the weight of the leadership’s decision-making crisis and encouraged it to take initiative, especially since Gaza will pay the price of the war, despite not being closely connected to the conflict in Jerusalem. However, it is willing to bear the consequences of national battles if objective conditions are available in all areas of conflict and it is ready for confrontation, support and backing.

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All of this falls within the framework of creating objective conditions that must be worked on in the West Bank and Jerusalem and the escalation of the confrontation therein. The other decision regarding the circumstances of the confrontation remains subject to the discretion of the resistance leadership regarding the availability of conditions, cracks in international or regional politics or a decline in the enemy’s political environment, facilitating the achievement of political results and gains on the battlefield.

The resistance effort is currently focused on preventing any fundamental shift in the main conflict issues of the Palestinian cause and preventing any moral or material defeat for the Palestinian people that affects their existence on their land. It is also focused on continuing support for other conflict arenas, by all means, especially the West Bank, in order to confront the settlement project and prevent its expansion, as well as the occupation’s control over the land.

It is important for the issue of Jerusalem to remain the focus of the struggle by attracting national, Arab and Islamic attention and to remain the compass of the national struggle. The identity of the conflict in Jerusalem, with its Islamic nature, calls for the nation to continue to rally behind its cause worldwide.

This article first appeared in Arabic in the Palestinian Information Centre on 17 May 2023

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