By Munir K. Nasser
American Muslim groups in Washington are calling on Arab and Muslim Americans to demonstrate near Camp David summit on Friday July 14th to protest any concessions on Jerusalem in the current negotiations between Israeli and the Palestinians leaders.
Representatives of major American Muslim organizations urged President Clinton to refrain from pressuring Arafat to give concessions on Jerusalem. They said in a statement issued in Washington this week “it is fundamentally inappropriate for President Clinton to pressure the Palestinians into any further compromise on Jerusalem. We call on President Clinton and on leaders of Muslim majority countries to refrain from pressuring Yasser Arafat to act against the will of his own people. Arafat should not be induced to surrender the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes or to sign away Muslim rights in Jerusalem,” the statement said.
The coalition of Muslim American organizations warned Arafat that the sanctity of Jerusalem and its Al-Aqsa Mosque is not open to negotiation at the Camp David summit. “No individual or group has the right to sign away Islamic rights in that city. Any agreement that diminishes Muslim rights in Jerusalem or prevents refugees from returning to their homes in Palestine would not only be unworkable but also null and void from an Islamic perspective.”
The statement stressed that Muslim and Christian religious rights are not safe under an Israeli occupation. “Since the start of the peace process in 1993 Israel has maintained a closure of Jerusalem, stifling free movement, economic development and the freedom of worship of Palestinian Christians and Muslims from the West Bank,” the statement said. “In addition, municipal policies designed by the Israeli occupation forces create conditions of such psychological and economic pressure that non-Jews are obliged to move away from the city.”
The Muslim American groups said these were not isolated incidents, but are the result of an “Apartheid-like ideology that seeks to erase all traces of Islam and Christianity in Jerusalem. As a result of this grave situation, the Muslim and Christian presence in Jerusalem is being systematically eroded,” said the group.
“No diplomatic sleight of hand will be sufficient to convince Muslims worldwide that they should give up one of their holiest sites to perpetual occupation and gradual elimination,” the group said.
The statement was endorsed by: American Muslim Council (AMC); American Muslim
Foundation (AMF); American Muslims for Jerusalem (AMJ), Council on
American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA);
Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and Muslim Public Affairs Council
Meanwhile, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) announced that is launching a campaign on behalf of the Palestinian Right of Return, in coordination with the many other efforts in the United States and around the world. ADC said it is establishing a Task Force on the Right of Return and is urging its chapters, members and supporters to become as active as possible on the issue.
The objective of ADC’s Task Force for promoting and defending the Right of Return is to raise public awareness of this right and its centrality to a peaceful future in the Middle East and to help unite and coordinate the many existing efforts on advocating the Right of Return. It is also intended to serve as a source of information on the Palestinian refugees and their rights, including the right of return.
ADC said in a statement that the right of refugees to return to their original homes, have their property restored to them and receive compensation for any losses incurred as a result of displacement or dispossession is guaranteed by the most basic international human rights documents. These rights have also been specifically recognized as applying to the Palestinian refugees by countless UN resolutions. Most notably, UN Resolution 194 stipulates “that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date – Albawaba.com
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