Arabs criticize the PA and lays out a vision of successful Arab life under Israeli sovereignty.
PHOTO: Ashraf Jabari of Hebron (middle) speaks at the Sovereignty Conference in Jerusalem with Anett Haskia (left) and Shalom Yerushalmi (right).
Arab residents of Hebron came out in support of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria at a recent conference. The 4th annual Sovereignty Conference hosted by Women for Israel’s Tomorrow (Women in Green) was held in Jerusalem last month featuring Members of Knesset, elected officials, journalists and several thousand interested participants.
The final panel discussion of the evening was perhaps the most heated. Moderated by Noam Arnon, the long time spokesperson for the Jewish Community of Hebron, it featured several Arab representatives, including Ashraf Jabari, a prominent businessman and community leader in Hebron.
”Nobody can prevent the State of Israel from annexing the territories,” Jabari proclaimed in Arabic to the primarily Hebrew speaking Israeli audience. Simultaneous Hebrew and English translations were provided. He went to criticism the Palestinian Authority for corruption, something many PA residents have quietly reported for years.
”Where’s all the money that was given to the Palestinian Authority? All those dollars that came from Europe, from America, even from the State of Israel,” Jabari questioned. He alluded to PA officials lining their pockets rather than building hospitals and schools.
Rather then calling to ”end the occupation” or promote a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, Jabari said ”we are not against sovereignty. We accept what the Israeli government accepts regarding sovereignty in the territories.”
He concluded with a call to hear from the residents as opposed to politicians. ”Visit Hebron and hear from both sides, both the Palestinian and Jewish side,” he said.
Jabari also praised Noam Arnon, his contact in the Jewish Community whom he has known for years. ”Noam comes to my home on foot, no one blocks his way, sometimes he is even accompanied to my house.”
Noam Arnon added a personal story to highlight his opposition to the Oslo Accords of 1993 that created the Palestinian Authority and the Hebron Accords of 1997 that brought the PA into power in 80% of the city.
”In 1996 I was approached by many delegations from Hebron,” Arnon said, remembering the months leading up to the division of the city. ”I met the trade union, the industrialists and a delegation of sheikhs, and they begged for one thing — they said, please don’t bring upon us this calamity. Please don’t bring the Palestinian Authority. They knew exactly who they were dealing with… the PA promotes and entices terrorism.”
Arnon went on to describe the normal Arab population as allies that were abandoned to Yasser Arafat’s PLO. He compared it to the withdrawal from the southern Lebanon buffer zone in 2000 which adversely affected Israeli’s Christian Maronite Lebanese supporters. The Lebanese civil war was discussed later in the panel by Jonathan Elkhoury, a Christian Arab Lebanese refugee living in Israel.
Arnon concluded, ”these are authentic leaders, not imported ones, or corrupt politicians. We cannot divide this small land and we will not betray our friends.”
The panel also featured a video of Arnon in one of his many conversations with Sheikh Farad al-Jabari, a tribal elder from the greater Hebron area originally scheduled to appear on the panel. Shiekh Jabari has also expressed concern over PA corruption and lamented the loss of Israeli law and order. In other conversations, he has decried anarchist agitators who arrive in Hebron to protest ”Israeli occupation” but in reality just create conflict for the locals.
Other participants in the panel were Sheikh Abu Khalil Al-Tamimi of Hebron, Abu Naim al Tarifi from Ramallah, Anett Haskia, an Israeli-Arab from Akko who ran for Knesset with the Jewish Home party, Dr. Aryeh Eldad, a former Member of Knesset from the National Union party, and Shalom Yerushalmi, a journalist from Ma’ariv news who was recently a personal guest of Noam Arnon in Hebron.