The Biden administration is pressing Israel to re-route the controversial Jerusalem March that celebrates the anniversary of the Six-day War victory, which led to the liberation of Jerusalem and Judea-Samaria. The State Department wants the annual march to divert its path from the Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City; an Israeli official told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.
The victory march is set to take place on Sunday. Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev approved the traditional route that originates in Safra Square to the Western Wall via the Old City’s Muslim Quarter.
Local Arab store owners along the route feel compelled to close their shops early on the day of the march as they feel intimidated by the nationalist marchers. Rally supporters view the event as an integral part of their celebration of the anniversary of the 1967 reunification and liberation of Jerusalem.
Washington’s attempts to lobby Israeli lawmakers have yet to succeed, despite the fact that Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz agree that the event has “combustible” aspects to it, the Israeli official said. Terror groups Threats were issued by terror organizations Islamic Jihad (Gaza) and Hamas against Israel, warning the allowance of the march to take place.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, along with Bar-Lev, have stood their ground, noting that the route is nothing new. They also reference a decision made last month to prevent an identically routed march of Israeli nationalists and right-wing MK Itamar Ben Gvir. They added that green-lighting the Jerusalem Day march on Sunday was “somewhat of a tradeoff” for preventing the April march – a decision that was also made due to US pressure, the Israeli official said. He added that more security assessments would take place in the days leading up to the Jerusalem March.
A State Department spokesman told the Times: “The US has repeatedly expressed its concern regarding the recent violence in Jerusalem and across Israel and the West Bank. We continue to call on all sides to do their utmost to exercise restraint and avoid provocative actions and rhetoric.”