Thursday, May 19, 2022

‘Provocative’ Jerusalem march through Muslim Quarter to go ahead

The annual parade marks Israel's capture of East Jerusalem – home to the Old City and its holy sites – in the 1967 war.

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Israel’s outgoing government has said a controversial march by nationalists and pro-settler groups through occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City will go ahead next week.

This comes a day after the event was scrapped due to security concerns, reports Al Jazeera.

Several right-wing Israeli groups had planned a “March of the Flags” through the walled Old City’s Damascus Gate and into its Muslim quarter on Thursday, drawing warnings from Hamas – the group that governs the Gaza Strip – of renewed hostilities should it proceed.

The far-right groups cancelled the march after police denied them a permit. But following a meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet on Tuesday, ministers approved the march for next week.

“The parade will take place this coming Tuesday June 15 in a format to be agreed between the police and the parade’s organisers,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said.

The Jerusalem Day event normally takes place on May 10 and marks Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem – home to the Old City and its holy sites – in the 1967 Middle East War.

Hundreds of flag-waving Israeli youths usually make their way through the Muslim Quarter via Damascus Gate, chanting and singing patriotic songs.

It is regarded by many Palestinians as a deliberate provocation.

A top Hamas official, Khalil al-Hayya, had warned Israel on Monday “against letting the march approach East Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound”.

Netanyahu faces an end to his long hold on power on Sunday when the country’s legislature is scheduled to vote on approving a coalition government of diverse parties that came together to unseat him.

If that vote is successful, it will be up to prime minister-hopeful Naftali Bennett and his partner opposition leader Yair Lapid to decide whether to proceed with the march.

Labor politician Gilad Kariv, a supporter of the coalition challenging Netanyahu, called the move to allow the march “another chapter in the outgoing government’s attempt to leave a scorched earth”.

Tensions are likely to remain high in Jerusalem whether or not the march goes ahead.

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