Anyone who believes a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hinges on the actions of Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, might as well turn their attention elsewhere — The moral bankruptcy of both men was on full display at the White House yesterday.
If before engaging in their vacuous performance, they had cared to study what meaningful engagement actually looks like, they could have done nothing better than to witness a recent meeting between two very different men: Haim Bajayo, 75-year old Jew and Hebron’s Palestinian Mayor Khalid Al-Useili.
An elderly Jewish man from Hebron has asked the city’s mayor to permit his burial in a Muslim cemetery when he dies, insisting that his body not be placed in one of the sites now controlled by Israeli settlers.
Haim Bajayo, 75, visited Mayor Khalid Al-Useili at his office in the southern West Bank city and described in detail how Jews and Arabs had generally enjoyed amiable relations until the arrival of tens of thousands of foreign immigrants from the 1920s until 1948, the year Israel was established and most of Hebron’s Jews fled to the new state established in their name.
Bajayo was born in Hebron in 1935 and grew up in its Daboya neighborhood with his family, which owned a home there and held official property documents until 1977. A decade after Israel seized control of the Palestinian city and began permitting its citizens to settle there, Bajayo ceremoniously ceded his home for the benefit of the Palestinian municipality. The mayor at that time was Fahd Al-Qawasmi.
“As long as [the settlers] are in Hebron, there is no chance of reaching an agreement” to end the six-decade conflict, he told the mayor. “I don’t want any of my property or my house back as long as Palestinian homes and lands are not returned. The same day the Palestinians regain what was taken from them in 1948, I’ll come to you and say, ‘I have a house … registered in the real estate department.'”