Press Release from the Welcome to Palestine Campaign
Over one hundred delegates from Europe and North America will show up on Sunday at the King Hussein/Allenby Bridge linking Jordan to the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank. All of them are participants to this new version of the Welcome to Palestine campaign. They respond to an invitation launched by the Governor of Bethlehem and several civil society organizations of this West Bank city. They carry with them over one ton of stationery to give to Palestinian children who are about to go back to school these days, and with their eyes and cameras, they are ready to document life under occupation and apartheid, during a week-long series of encounters with the population.
We are well aware of what happened to two previous versions of the Welcome to Palestine campaign: they were faced with illegal repression by the Israeli authorities, 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 falsely claimed were intent on disruption and trouble-making.
This new version has started in Amman, Jordan, where our delegates have arrived at the middle of last week, visiting this country – and the numerous Palestinian refugee camps it hosts – before heading to the bridge over the River Jordan
Contrarily to the previous versions, the visitors’ trip does not encroach, even as a very provisional step, an inch of Israeli national territory. Yet, it is known for a fact that the Israeli government routinely makes light of respecting the International Laws and regulations warranting the right to travel and visit friends. The French government, while warning the participants of the Welcome to Palestine mission about the risk of being denied entry to the West Bank by the Israeli army, felt the necessity to reaffirm this week its strong commitment to the right to enter the Palestinian territories, and announced a decision to mobilize its diplomatic network in the area in order to be able to provide assistance to its nationals, if needed. Such a message was passed to the Israeli authorities, the French Foreign ministry added.
What will happen on Sunday at the Jordan/West Bank border, illegally manned by Israel ? Are the participants of Welcome to Palestine, aged 9 to 82 year-old, a so-called “security risk”? And a “security risk” for whom? For Israel? They do not go to Israel this time.
Having the might, the Israeli government has the choice between playing by the minimal rules of a civilized world, or again, as it so often does, violating elementary rights of the citizens. We would appreciate the Israeli public opinion know about that.
Welcome to Palestine, Saturday 25th of August 2012
Contacts : 00 33 6 73 38 24 84 (in Europe) or 00 33 6 80 88 71 54 (currently in Amman, Jordan)
The Israeli movement Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc) called upon the government to admit the international activists and rectify the mistake made in the previous two times they tried to arrive in the Palestinian territories and were treated as “enemies”. “The Palestinians, just like us, have the right to invite guests from abroad to visit them. As long as the state of Israel insists as acting as the gate-keeper and controlling the access to the Palestinian territories, it has the obligation pf observing the common courtesies and letting the Palestinians’ invited guests come visiting” was the text of a letter sent to Defense Minister Barak.