Why did so few Palestinians march for statehood on Friday?

Palestinian belief in the two-state solution is dropping rapidly, and Israelis who aren’t yet willing to come out should be warned: It is now, or never.

 

 

 

 

Leaving Jaffa Gate to march toward Sheikh Jarrah in support of Palestinian independence, 14 July, 2011 (Photo: Dahlia Scheindlin)
Leaving Jaffa Gate to march toward Sheikh Jarrah in support of Palestinian independence, 14 July, 2011 (Photo: Dahlia Scheindlin)

 

In an effort to save the two states solution, thousands of Israelis and Palestinians marched from Jaffa gate to the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The march was organized in cooperation with residents of East Jerusalem from Silwan, Issawiyah and Sheikh Jarrah. The three neighborhoods are facing growing settler activities.

The march was a success in today’s standards. This kind of march has not happened for decades in Jerusalem. The size of the crowd was impressive. However 2,000-5,000 participants are not impressive if we remember the “good old days” of Rabin era when tens of thousands came out to support the peace process.

Nevertheless, this march for the freedom of Palestinians is very important. It shows a slow awakening in the Israeli public. There are more Israeli Jews who are willing to go out of their comfortable homes to show dissatisfaction toward the status quo. They are starting to understand the danger of the indifference toward the failed peace process.

It is ironic, however, that the same cause that prompted many Israelis to march kept some Palestinians away from Friday’s event. For Israelis, part of the recent talk about resuming negotiations is a result of the realization that the two state solution is quickly becoming irrelevant. On one hand, the larger the settlements get, the more a one-state solution becomes likely. At the same time, the Obama administration has made it clear that Palestinians should not expect any help for a two-state solution from the Americans.

As a result, the best hope the Israelis have for a two-state solution is the success of President Abbas’ bid at the United Nations in September. In reality, Israelis that want to save the state of Israel must support Abbas’s bid for the Palestinian state with all their might.

As I marched on Friday, I heard a few Israelis voice frustration that not many Palestinians showed up. It was clear that more Jews came to the march. As I explained, Palestinians have been experiencing a major change on the ground. Many are loosing their hope in the two state solution. It is becoming more appealing for many Palestinians to struggle for equality in a one state. Jalal  Abukhater, a young Palestinian who published an article on +972 is an example of this sentiment. This movement calling for one-man one vote is likely to grow unless a breakthrough is going to happen soon in the peace process.

However, despite my cynicism regarding the current reality, I think these marches and protests are important. The success of this march should not be measured by it size but rather by its ability to build a momentum. More Palestinians are likely to join these efforts if it becomes a movement. This should not be the last march for ending the occupation.

It must be clear that if our efforts for two states solution fail nowdays, the Israelis calling for two states solution tomorrow, will find no partner on the Palestinian side. Israelis who aren’t willing to come out yet, should be warned. It is now, or never