George Zeidan – I remember more normal days in Jerusalem. Before the pandemic, beefore Israel’s escalation of violence on the Al Aqsa compound and in the neighbourhoods of Jerusalem. Before the state’s devastating military siege causing untold death and destruction in Gaza.
I remember happily walking with friends and taking visitors to explore the Old City.We passed hidden allies with steps off to the left and right. We looked through doorways open to patios full of plants and flowers. And stopped at the markets to purchase a souvenir or a shawarma. Along the way, we visited some of the most holy places for the three Abrahamic faiths. Typical of residents of any city, we tend to take our own for granted.
I am always overwhelmed by the uniqueness of my city, its beauty and its history. A diverse mix of people living in close proximity, allsharing a reverence for God. Each praying in their own way His love, support and, yes, peace. That peace for which we pray seems a distant hope to many now.
Claiming to be missionaries from the Patrilineal Patriarch Abraham, Trump and Israel have signed peace deals with three Arab countries—the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan. According to the White House, the Abraham Accords “pursue a vision of peace, security, and prosperity in the Middle East and around the world.” Political chatter indicates that many more Arab nations are on the edge of signing similar agreements.
The three governments have been in an “at war” status with Israel since 1948 without engaging in actual combat. Over the last ten years, we have constantly heard of secret meetings between leaders from the Arab world and Israel.With the Trump administration, the geopolitical spectrum pushed these governments towards normalizing relationships with Israel rapidly and publicly. It appears as if Israel accomplished the impossible, reaching three almost simultaneous peace deals with three Arab countries at zero cost.
It is true that these are not the first Arab countries to sign peace treaties with Israel. Both Egypt and Jordan brokered peace agreements in 1979 and 1994 respectively, but among Arab public opinion the widely accepted consensus is that these settlements came after deadly wars with Israel that lead to loss of territory. The agreements led to regaining these lands. Additionally, both Egypt and Jordan share direct borders with Israel, making their position unique.
For any government to declare significant changes to an “at war” status with another country, it requires the overwhelming support of its peopleThis is clearly absent here. As the deals were announced, rage swept the Arab world including Palestine. However, it appears that he governments of the three Arab countries may have other reasons for these deals. The agreements come in response to Trump’s administration; . They care less aboutpublic opinion in their country. They see Israel as a strategic ally against Iran. One thing remains true, the old and new treaties are not supported by the public. The people and their governments are not on the same page.
We,Palestinians and our brothers and sisters throughout the Arab world, understand that when true and lasting peace of reconciliation comes, it will have to begin here in my city, the holy city of Jerusalem.
Just look at the events of the past few weeks in the Arab world. A wave of online support crushed the virtual world in most of Arab countries. . Supportive hashtags in solidarity with Palestine were trending and continue to trend worldwide. Arab celebrities and influencers spoke out against Israeli apartheid and its war crimes in Gaza. Marches and rallies continue to take place in cities around the Arab world, – protesting the impending ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and inside Israel as well as violations of the status quo on the Al-Aqsa compound. We saw demonstrations in Iraq, Syria, Qatar, Tunisia, Egypt, Kuwait and many other countries. We saw some incredibly inspiring videos of Lebanese and Jordanians attempting to cross the borders by foot to stand in solidarity with Palestinians.
Our brothers and sisters in the Arab world understand that any peace process must start here in Jerusalem, then take off freely. Arab governments that are distant from their own people would not bring sustainable peace to the region. Trump, Netanyahu, and some Arab leaders may have claimed the opposite. They can get as creative as they want in their “peace deals” and apply innovative methods. They mayuse science, art, and sports to secure the endorsement of the Arab populations. But we know better.
Peace between Israelis, and the rest of the Arab people first requires reconciliation in the small well-travelled corners of the old city of Jerusalem. Without ending the apartheid, the ethnic cleansing, and the oppression of the Palestinian people we will not be on the right path for peace.
George Zeidan is co-founder of Right to Movement Palestine, an initiative to illustrate the reality of Palestinian life through sports. A Fulbright awardee with a master’s degree from the Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California, he is a program manager for an international humanitarian organization. He grew up in Jerusalem’s Old City
*The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Jerusalem24.