Jerusalem at dusk, view from the Olive Mountain

Jerusalem at dusk, view from the Olive Mountain

Some Muslims living in East Jerusalem say they want to vote in the coming Jerusalem municipal elections to have a voice in bettering their own communities and situations.

And officials in Jerusalem, under Israeli jurisdiction, say there’s no reason they shouldn’t.

Except that Muslim officials have ordered the residents not to vote through a
“fatwa,” a nonbinding but authoritative legal opinion.

It’s because Muslim leaders want their people to continue to be at odds with Israel, according to Bassam Tawil, a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East who writes for the Gatestone Institute.

“Palestinian leaders and their religious clerics do not want to see Arabs live a comfortable life under Israel,” he wrote.

“They are afraid that the world would see that Arabs can have a good life under Israeli sovereignty. They are also afraid that Palestinians living under the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip will start envying the Arabs living in Israel – and then demand from their leaders similar conditions,” he writes.

He cites the plight of Ramadan Dabash, a 52-year-old businessman and social activist who wants to help residents of Sur Baher and east Jerusalem improve their living conditions by getting better services from the municipality.

Dabash “has been facing a campaign of threats by several Palestinian leaders and administrative bodies over his decision to run in the municipal election, slated for October 2018.”

His plan to run in the coming election at the head of an Arab list called Jerusalem for Jerusalemites has put him at odds with Palestinian leadership.

“The Palestinian campaign of incitement against participation in the municipal election reached its peak recently with the publication of a fatwa (Islamic religious decree) that bans Muslims from talking part in the vote,” Tawil explained.

The fatwa, which was issued by the east Jerusalem-based Palestinian Supreme Council of Fatwa, said: “Participation in the municipal election, either by voting of presenting candidacy, is religiously forbidden. The disadvantages of participating in the election are bigger and greater than any other gained interests.”

Because of the threats, most Arab residents in Jerusalem have been boycotting municipal election activities.

But Tawil said the boycott “has hurt the Arab residents themselves, who were left without representatives in the municipal council, someone who would fight for their rights.”

“The Jerusalem Municipality has, despite the absence of Arab representatives, continued to provide various and basic services to the Arab residents of the city.”

Dabash told Tawil his hope to improve the lives of his family and friends has nothing to do with politics.

“It is only about improving our living conditions and obtaining services that we are entitled to as residents of the city. Israel hasn’t invested enough in the Arab neighborhoods, and the Palestinian Authority doesn’t really care about us. This is why we have decided to take matters into our own hands and try to help our people by getting elected to the municipal council,” he said.

The article explaine: “Improving the living conditions of the Arab residents of Jerusalem is not on the list of priorities of Palestinian leaders and groups. Palestinian leaders living in fancy villas in Ramallah and Bethlehem do not seem to care about the well-being of the Arabs in Jerusalem.”

So what is happening and why?

“These leaders do not want to see any improvement in the lives of the Arabs in Jerusalem so that they could continue to incite against Israel and accuse it of discriminating against its Arab population,” Tawil wrote.

He said one of the Palestinians’ “biggest lies is that Israel is conducting a policy of ‘ethnic cleansing’ against the Arabs in Jerusalem.”

Tawil concluded: “Palestinian leaders have once again shown that they do not hesitate to act against the interests of their own people. The call for boycotting the municipal election in Jerusalem should be seen in the context of continued Palestinian incitement against Israel.”

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