Days Of Palestine
Israel’s apparently endless efforts to silence Sheikh Raed Salah have all been meant to pave the way for the controversial peace plan known as the “deal of the century” to go through with no opposition within Israel, the iconic Palestinian community leader’s lawyer has claimed.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Khaled Zabarqa said that Israel has been planning for the past two years to ban any appearance by Sheikh Salah due to his ability to mobilise the Palestinians to reject any Israeli plan intending to terminate Palestinian rights in Jerusalem.
Last week, US President Donald Trump announced his “peace plan” to end the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The so-called “deal of the century” refers to Jerusalem as “Israel’s undivided capital” and recognises Israeli sovereignty over large parts of the occupied West Bank.
The plan drew widespread criticism from Palestinians and the Arab world. It was also rejected by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). “All member states [should] not engage with this plan or cooperate with the US administration in implementing it in any form,” the OIC declared.
“Israel put Sheikh Salah under house arrest as he represents a symbol for the Palestinian people, mostly those living in Jerusalem,” explained Zabarqa. “We, Sheikh Salah’s defence team, did not understand at the beginning why the Israelis were giving meaningless and politically motivated verdicts against him. There was a secret agenda behind it, we told ourselves. Lately, we came to understand that banning Sheikh Salah from the media through his house arrest was aimed at silencing the man, to hinder him so that he cannot mobilise people against the US deal.”
Salah’s lawyer attributed this to the “big political weight, influence and popularity” that his client has among Palestinian citizens of Israel and, indeed, among all of the people of Palestine. “He is a symbol known throughout the Islamic Ummah as a role model for steadfastness and also a figure defending the sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque.”