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Interview with Palestinian woman politician in Al Quds

 Friday 16 November 2007, 01:35 PM


Jıhad Abu Zneid ıs a woman member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Jerusalem Governance. She speaks of the conditions under which Palestinian Jerusalemites live inside the city.
Q:  Would you please tell us more about the conditions of Palestinian Jerusalemites in Al Quds?
A:  Al Quds is the heart of Palestine. As Palestinian Jerusalemites, we are forced to live a genuine isolation from all that is Palestinian culturally , socially , and politically. This Israeli policy aims at the Judaization of Al Quds.
Palestinian Jerusalemites face being shunned out of their own homes, land confiscations, and settlement expansion. Although this has been going on for a long time things have been more intense for the past three years.  The goal is to force the Jerusalemites into voluntary departure and immigration   by making their lives unbearably difficult.
Q:  What do you mean by the “cultural isolation” of Palestinian Jerusalemites?
A:  Israel bans cultural or social activities, even those for children, women, and the elderly. They ban theatrical performances, and cultural events. Israel restricts gatherings to no more than 50 people.  Frequently Israel will close down any building that hosts a cultural gathering and detain the owner of the building.
On the other hand, they spread the Israeli-Hebrew culture.
They also work on the spread of drugs among the Palestinian youth of Jerusalem. More than 8000 young Palestinian Jerusalemites are addicted to drugs. The goal is to occupy the hearts of Jerusalemites – remove Jerusalem from their hearts.  They want to alienate Jerusalem’s youth from their societies, their cause, and their nation.
Also, there is a high percentage of school drop-outs, 37% among male students in Al Quds.  This is a result of the Separation Wall.  There are not enough Palestinian schools in Al Quds and the salaries of Palestinian teachers are very low. We are suffering from bad economic conditions.
Additionally, there are restrictions on praying in Al Aqsa, and general restrictions on visiting sacred places, be them Islamic or Christian. 
Their policy is to expand settlements in the Old City. There is an attempt to change the Old City to a touristic place and depot its Palestinian inhabitants and change its character.
Q:  What results do you expect from the International Forum of Al Quds?
A:  This Forum is very important for Al Quds to stay in the Arab and Islamic minds, and to always be a priority for Arabs and Muslims. Through the Istanbul Declaration, I look forward to going beyond objections and condemnations to practical mechanisms, such as the formation of interest groups all over the Arab world. Those groups will pressurize their governments and force them to take strong and clear stances regarding the Palestinian Cause and Al Quds. We want the Palestinian Cause to be more than just a slogan. We need consistent and hard work.
Q: What is the role of Jerusalemite women in Al Quds?
A: Palestinian women, in general, have always been known for their great roles in social, economic, and political struggle for the Palestinian Cause. They are the martyrs, the mothers of the martyrs, and the mothers and wives of detainees. They work hard at home and outside their homes. They also take part in all organizations that resist the occupation. They are present on the street, in rallies and strikes against the occupation. One of the most difficult tasks they accomplish is raising their sons and daughters Palestinian cultural orientation, with Palestinian minds.
Q: In your opinion, what should be done for the Al Quds’ cause?
A: I suggest the reiteration of the global character of the Al Quds Cause. I am speaking about the entire Al Quds [Western and Eastern]. I want it to be open for every Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and Christian. I want it to be open for all peoples and religions. Also, I suggest that this cause shouldn’t be restricted to negotiations between Palestinians only. Al Quds is an Arab, Islamic, and Christian cause. All powers should unite against Israel and its plots.

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