AMMAN: The year 2017 can best be described by Palestinians as one of protest and rejection of Israeli occupation, especially in Jerusalem.
Protests included prisoners going on hunger strike, diplomats succeeding in listing Hebron’s Old City as a UNESCO world heritage site, and defending the right to pray unhindered in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. This year also saw Palestinian reconciliation efforts that made important headway in the Gaza Strip.
As Donald Trump was sworn in as US president, some hoped his campaign promise of an “ultimate deal” would be implemented, but that hope was quickly dashed.
In one of his most infamous statements, he told visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he does not have any position on how the conflict should be resolved. “One state, two states, I don’t care. I’ll accept whatever the parties accept,” Trump said.
While US envoys — mostly Jewish Zionists supportive of Israel’s settlement enterprise — made the rounds with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, it became clear they would not be honest brokers. Having lost hope in a US-led political process, Palestinians continued their resistance.
Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti led a hunger strike campaign from inside his jail cell, in the hope of improving prison conditions. After a 41-day hunger strike that was supported throughout Palestine and beyond, Palestinians declared victory on May 26. Second monthly visits were allowed, and family members were allowed at certain times to physically touch their loved ones. Throughout the second half of 2017, photos of prisoners hugging their loved ones appeared on social media.
Palestinian resistance was also able to make accomplishments internationally. In July, UNESCO declared Hebron’s Old City and Ibrahimi Mosque a world heritage site, angering Israel’s government and Jewish settlers living illegally in the city center.
During the summer, Israeli police restricted entry to Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, by placing metal detectors at the entrance of its gates. Palestinian worshippers reacted by praying outside the mosque; the detectors were removed 11 days later.
After a decade-long feud, a reconciliation deal was signed by Hamas and Fatah in September. Under the Egypt-sponsored plan, Hamas would dissolve its administrative committee and allow the Palestinian Authority (PA) to govern Gaza, and presidential and parliamentary elections are to take place.
On Dec. 6, Trump announced US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and his intention to move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This has caused an international crisis and protests worldwide, and led to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas saying he no longer accepts the US as a mediator and refusing to meet American officials.
On Dec. 21, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution against the US move by 128 to nine, with 35 abstentions.
On Dec. 18, the US vetoed a similar resolution in the UN Security Council that was supported by the other 14 members.
Top five Palestinian events in 2017
Thousands of Palestinians go on hunger strike in Israeli jails (April and May)
UNESCO declares Hebron’s Old City a world heritage site (July)
Protests in Jerusalem against metal detectors placed outside Al-Aqsa Mosque (August)
Hamas accepts Fatah conditions for reconciliation (September)
UN General Assembly rejects US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (December)