Palestinians torn as Israel seeks Gulf vacationers in Jerusalem

By: AP | Jerusalem |

November 15, 2020 3:46:08 pm

Muslims collect for Friday prayer, subsequent to the Dome of the Rock Mosque within the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s outdated metropolis. (AP)

When the United Arab Emirates agreed to normalise relations with Israel, the Palestinians decried the transfer as a “betrayal” of each Jerusalem, the place they hope to ascertain the capital of their future state, and the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the town’s holiest Muslim web site.

However with Israel now courting rich Gulf vacationers and establishing new air hyperlinks to the foremost journey hubs of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Palestinians in east Jerusalem may quickly see a tourism boon after months wherein the coronavirus reworked the Holy Metropolis right into a ghost city.

“There will probably be some advantages for the Palestinian sector of tourism, and that is what I’m hoping for,” stated Sami Abu-Dayyeh, a Palestinian businessman in east Jerusalem who owns 4 motels and a tourism company.

“Overlook about politics, we’ve got to outlive.” Palestinian leaders have sharply rejected the latest selections by the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan to ascertain ties with Israel as a result of they severely weakened a longstanding Arab consensus that recognition solely be prolonged in return for Palestinian statehood.

‘The Palestinians hope to ascertain a state together with east Jerusalem and the West Financial institution, territories occupied by Israel within the 1967 warfare. Arab help, seen as a key type of leverage in a long time of on-again, off-again peace negotiations, now seems to be evaporating, leaving the Palestinians arguably weaker and extra remoted than at any level in latest historical past.

In a putting growth final week, a delegation of Israeli settlers visited the Emirates to debate enterprise alternatives. The Palestinians view settlements within the West Financial institution and east Jerusalem as the principle impediment to peace, and many of the worldwide group considers them to be unlawful. However the prospect of expanded non secular tourism may find yourself benefiting Israelis and Palestinians alike, as rich Gulf vacationers and Muslim pilgrims from additional afield make the most of new air hyperlinks and improved relations to go to Al-Aqsa and different holy websites.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital, and its Jerusalem Municipality is organizing conferences and seminars to assist tourism operators market the town to Gulf travellers. “I’m very excited as a result of I feel it opens us as much as a brand new period of Muslim tourism that we by no means actually had,” stated Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, the deputy mayor of Jerusalem. “Although we’ve got peace with Jordan and Egypt, I’ve by no means actually seen any Egyptian vacationers or Jordanian vacationers as a result of the peace wasn’t a heat peace.” Hassan-Nahoum, who lately visited the Emirates and is a co-founder of the UAE-Israel Enterprise Council, stated the municipality is reaching out to native Arab tour operators to make sure the advantages lengthen to all.

“You will have combined emotions,” she stated. A few of them are a bit of bit suspicious, (however) most of them perceive that that is going to be extremely affluent for them, as a result of finally they’re Arab talking and they also have, I feel, a singular benefit. Abu-Dayyeh expects as much as 28 flights a day arriving in Tel Aviv from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, international journey hubs for long-haul carriers Emirates and Etihad, making it simpler for vacationers from the Far East and South America to achieve the Holy Land.

He’s assured Palestinian operators will be capable to compete. We’re on the bottom right here and we’ve been giving this service for a few years, for a whole bunch of years, he stated. Different Palestinians look like extra skeptical. Greater than a dozen Palestinian store homeowners in Jerusalem’s Previous Metropolis, which is essentially shut down due to the coronavirus, declined to touch upon the push for Gulf tourism, saying it was too politically delicate.

There are additionally issues that an Israeli push to advertise tourism to Al-Aqsa may heighten tensions. The hilltop esplanade within the Previous Metropolis, residence to the Al-Aqsa mosque and the enduring Dome of the Rock shrine, is the third holiest web site in Islam. It is usually the holiest web site for Jews, who seek advice from it because the Temple Mount as a result of it was the placement of the 2 biblical temples in historical instances.

The positioning is a uncooked nerve within the Israeli-Palestinian battle, and tensions have soared in recent times as non secular and nationalist Jews have visited in ever-larger numbers, escorted by the Israeli police. Final month a delegation of Emirati officers visited the location, coming into by a gate usually utilized by Israelis and underneath an Israeli safety escort. A small group of Palestinians heckled them. In August, Palestinian demonstrators burned a portrait of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan close to the Dome of the Rock.

Officers from the Waqf, the Jordanian non secular physique that oversees the mosque compound, declined to touch upon Israel’s efforts to advertise Gulf tourism to the location, underscoring the political sensitivities.

Ikrema Sabri, the imam who leads Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa, stated any visits have to be coordinated with the Waqf in order that they don’t advance any Israeli declare to sovereignty over the location. The Palestinians have lengthy feared that Israel intends to take over the location or partition it. The Israeli authorities says it’s dedicated to the established order.

“Any customer from outdoors Palestine should coordinate with the Waqf,” Sabri stated. However any customer from the facet of the occupation, we don’t welcome or settle for them. He acknowledged that the visiting Emiratis might have been unaware of the advanced association and stated the heckling was a response by people to them coming into with Israeli safety.

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