CMEP Bulletin: Jerusalem Day and Nakba Day
Israelis celebrated Jerusalem Day on May 17, just two days after Palestinians marked Nakba Day. While Nakba Day, “Day of Catastrophe,” remembers the displacement of Palestinians during the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and is marked with rallies and marches calling for the right of return of all Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem Day is a religious holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem and Israeli control over East Jerusalem following the June 1967 war. Israelis celebrate Jerusalem Day with an annual march through the Old City. Each year Israeli Border Police are deployed in an attempt to prevent clashes between marchers, some of whom chant racist slurs such as “Death to Arabs” and throw trash at Palestinians, and Palestinian demonstrators chanting “Free Palestine.”
Jerusalem will never be divided says Netanyahu
Sunday evening Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a Jerusalem Day State Ceremony speech that began, “Forty-eight years, ago the rift in our capital, Jerusalem, was healed and it became a unified city again. The division led to its atrophy; the reunification led to its flourishing. That is why Jerusalem will never again be a wounded and bisected city. We will forever keep Jerusalem united under Israel’s sovereignty,” and ended, “The future belongs to the undivided and never to be divided Jerusalem.”
During other Jerusalem Day speeches Netanyahu said, “We keep building in Jerusalem all the time, developing it and paving new roads to it,” and that he had given specific instructions to build in East Jerusalem Jewish settlements such as Har Homa.
A few days later Netanyahu met with Federica Mogherini, the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and said, “I don’t support a one state solution – I don’t believe that’s a solution at all. I support the vision of two states for two peoples – a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.”
The PLO Responds to Netanyahu
In response to Netanyahu’s speeches Dr. Saeb Erakat, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) executive committee said, “It is not about Mr. Netanyahu’s public relations skills claiming that he supports a two-state solution, but about his actions. The new Israeli cabinet has shown its commitment to consolidate an Apartheid regime in occupied Palestine as well as to continue its incitement campaign against Palestinians, sending the message that Palestinian lives, history and culture don’t matter. The international community has allowed Israel to stall the prospects of a just and lasting peace for too long and has a responsibility to face Netanyahu’s hypocrisy head on, and not at the expense of the Palestinian people. We call on the international community to do nothing more than demand Israel fulfill its obligations under international law.”