The flares of violence that have set Jerusalem ablaze in recent days serve as a haunting reminder of the deep flaws that run through ground zero of the Middle East conflict amid the international community’s neglect. More than a hundred Palestinians protesting a march by the Israeli extreme right towards the Muslim quarter of the Old City have been injured and another 50 have been arrested in clashes with the police, who intervened unevenly between the two sides. The severity of the incidents and the deployment of security forces are unprecedented since the unrest following the 2014 killings of four teenagers, three Israelis and one Palestinian.
The more than 300,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem, a third of the population, lack citizenship and only have the right of residence in a city where their families have been present for generations. After 44 years of Israeli occupation of the eastern part, the political and social discrimination they suffer – despite working and paying taxes like Israeli neighbors – is the breeding ground for the unrest from which the protest has emerged in the middle of the Muslim holy month of fast and prayer.
The stagnation of the Palestinian political leadership, which has taken 15 years to call elections, coincides with Israel’s ban on holding them in East Jerusalem, a territory it considers under its sovereignty after unilaterally annexing it four decades ago. Spain has just demanded that the Israeli government facilitate the voting of the Palestinians in Jerusalem to “strengthen the legitimacy of its institutions.” And to avoid incidentally that the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, falls into the temptation of postponing them under the pretext of Israel’s veto.
Added to the discontent of the Palestinians by social exclusion and the political blockade is the provocation of supremacist groups of the Jewish extreme right, who have stormed the Israeli Parliament after last month’s elections. The heirs of a movement outlawed three decades ago for appealing to violence against the Palestinians have returned from the hand of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who needed to regroup all the right-wing seats to remain in power. Clinging to the official seat after four elections without conclusive results in just two years and sitting on the bench in a corruption trial, the head of the Government has not hesitated to invoke the most racist extreme right, the same one that has now marched towards the walls of the Old City shouting “Death to the Arabs!” The flashes of hatred in Jerusalem underscore that the dire status quo that has sustained Netanyahu for 12 years in office is exhausted and needs to change course.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.