(MENAFN - Arab News) The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement on Sunday rejected the setting up of a memorial for the Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi in Jerusalem.
Dimitri Diliani, a Jerusalem-based member of Fatah's Revolutionary Council, said that setting up the memorial "aims at confiscating lands from Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem." "Our objection is not against the great Indian national leader but against the Israeli intentions behind the move," Diliani said. "The Palestinian people respect the late Indian leader for leading his people to independence by nonviolent resistance," the Fatah official said.
Diliani said that Israel will confiscate Palestinian-owned lands in the Jabal Al-Mukaber neighborhood to set up the memorial.
Jerusalem Municipality councilman Meir Margalit, the initiator of the idea and fundraiser, said that the municipality will set up a statue and a mediation center in an area between Jabal Al-Mukaber and Jewish neighborhood of Armon HaNetsiv "to illustrate how to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict through peaceful means, as Gandhi would have wished."
The Hebrew daily Ma'ariv said the statue will be placed in a garden with a balcony for meditation that is being designed by Argentine architect Roberto Kahanov. The report said that the statue is being contributed by the municipality of Geneva and it will be identical to the one put up by it to honor the symbol of nonviolence.
Margalit, of leftist Israeli Meretz party, told Ma'ariv that "this gesture has come too late by 64 years." "We should have had long cherished a global scale personality that broke boundaries not only in India but worldwide."
Israel captured East Jerusalem in the June 1967 War, annexed it, and has since built settlements there that are home to more than 200,000 Israelis.
Control over the city has been seen as the most sensitive and thorniest issue of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians hope to make East Jerusalem the capital of their future state but Israel says the city is its eternal capital.