Can you imagine Israelis banned from European countries because they criticize European policies? At the invitation of Palestinians International visitors will again challenge the siege of the occupied Palestinian territories this Sunday.
Israel illegally prevents millions of Palestinians from returning to their country. But it also prevents normal visitation to those Palestinians remaining here. Recently four foreign ministers expected to attend a diplomatic conference in Ramallah were barred from entering through Jordan as they do with many visitors to the occupied Palestinian territories. Many Palestinians are also prevented from travelling abroad. For example, the chairman of the prisoner support organization Addameer, Abdullatif Gaith, a 71-year-old resident of East Jerusalem was ordered by Israeli “intelligence” to stay at home until 31 January 2013! Israel prevents Internationals from visiting their Palestinian friends.
Our previous two “Welcome to Palestine” campaigns were faced with illegal repression although their only supposed crime was admitting that they were visiting Palestine. Israel even went to the extreme of providing a fabricated list of 1,200 individuals to European airlines to deny them boarding, not one of those people was a security threat. Israel made Ben Gurion Airport into a virtual military camp with hundreds of extra security personnel to restrict entry to those they claimed were intent on disruption and trouble-making. The truth remains that Israel is violating international law by isolating the occupied Palestinian territories. European and American leaders are also responsible for these violations because they directly support Israel in its violations of human rights both diplomatically and financially. When governments fail to act, people act. Hence we will keep trying to visit Palestinian families and their associations. Even prisoners should have the right to receive visitors, shouldn’t they? This is why the next “Welcome to Palestine” mission, invited by the Governor of Bethlehem and several civil society organizations will take place from the 24th -31st of August. One hundred participants will be coming from several European countries as well as the United States, equipped with school stationery to give to Palestinian children and their eyes and their cameras to document life under colonial occupation and apartheid.
The delegates arrive in Jordan on the 23rd of August and will tour Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan for two days before crossing over Al-Awda Bridge (also called King Hussain Bridge) to the occupied West Bank. While in the West Bank, they will experience Palestinian life in different settings. This will consist of life in small villages, towns, and cities around the occupied Palestinian territories. While touring, they will receive presentations given by Palestinians depicting the struggles that they face. All are welcome to the opening ceremony of their visit which will take place in Jericho this Sunday at 8 pm.