Israelis and Arabs march in Jerusalem for Palestinian statehood

July 15, 2011

A crowd of about 2,000 left-wing Israelis and Palestinian activists marched through East Jerusalem on Friday in a show of support for Palestinian statehood, a rare Jewish-Arab demonstration in this contested city.

Demonstrators carrying Palestinian flags and signs that read “Marching to Independence” gathered outside the walled Old City and walked along the pre-1967 boundary dividing Jerusalem, ending in Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood where Jewish settlers have established several enclaves.

A handful of protesters waving Israeli flags gathered near the marchers at one street corner, but the demonstration proceeded without incident, controlled by Israeli and Palestinian organizers who had received clearance for the event from the police.

“We stand together, hand in hand,” Murad Shafea, an activist from the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, told the mostly Israeli crowd in Hebrew at a concluding rally. “We . . . will live in tranquility and peace.”

Daniel Argo, from the Israeli group Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity, the main organizer of the march, asserted that Palestinian statehood would free Israel from the burden of occupation. “The struggle for Palestinian independence is also a struggle for freedom for Israelis,” he said.

The route of the march was the reverse of the path taken by thousands of nationalist Israelis last month when they celebrated Jerusalem Day, the anniversary of Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem in 1967, with a flag-waving procession through the Old City punctuated by anti-Arab chants.

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