« WELCOME TO PALESTINE » MISSION FROM 18 TO 16 JULY 2011
Nearly 600 women, men and children, among whom more than 350 French citizens, will fly to the West Bank next Friday 8 July, in answer to the call from 15 West Bank Palestinian civil society organizations.
The aim is to show that, if our governments do not seem to be interested in the fate of these people who have been under occupation for far too long, there are men and women from all countries, who are ready to bring them moral support, using a week of their holidays to go and meet them.
In order to go to Bethlehem, we have no other choice than first landing at Tel Aviv airport, since the only Palestinian airport was destroyed by Israel in the early 2000’s. We know that the internationals who go to Palestine are very often subjected to arbitrary, indeed criminal practices, when they are not turned back, which often leads them to lie on the reasons of their journey.
However, all the French, Belgian, British, German, Italian and American participants decided of one accord that, having nothing to hide, and coming with totally peaceful intentions, they would inform the Israeli authorities of our wish to go to the West Bank immediately after our arrival at Tel Aviv airport.
We then duly informed the French Foreign Office who forwarded the information to the Israeli authorities.
They therefore know perfectly well that we are not coming “to spread chaos at Tel Aviv airport” – contrary to claims by certain agencies, only to pay a visit to Palestinian families, share their daily life for a week, visit the towns, villages and refugee camps, discover the difficulties encountered by their inhabitants, also their culture and their expectations.
Our programme includes in particular exchanges with the Al-Rowwad Centre of the Aïda refugee camp (Bethlehem), help with olive tree planting around Ramallah, also a solidarity visit to the organizers of the Jenin Freedom Theatre whose manager, Juliano Meir Khamis, was brutally assassinated recently.
We strongly stress that we campaign for a just peace and for the freedom and security of both the Palestinian and the Israeli people. Such a peace necessarily means the end of the occupation of the Palestinian Territories and the respect of international law. There are many Israelis who share this point of view.
We are leaving with our passports in order. We are not carrying anything dangerous. We often come as families and we are ready to submit to the controls in force in all the airports of the world. However, we refuse both arbitrary practices, we mean without any connection with anyone’s security, and humiliation.
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