International Meeting on Question of Jerusalem Focuses on City’s Current Realities

13 May 2014
GA/PAL/1297

International Meeting on Question of Jerusalem Focuses on City’s Current Realities

13 May 2014
General Assembly
GA/PAL/1297
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

International Meeting on Question of Jerusalem Focuses on City’s Current Realities

 


ANKARA, 13 May — The International Meeting on the Question of Jerusalem this morning, on its second day, heard from experts and discussed the current situation in Jerusalem, including measures taken by Israel, land expropriation and settlements, as well as social and economic issues.


Jad Isaac, Director-General, Applied Research Institute, Jerusalem, said that Jerusalem was the epicentre of the Middle East conflict.  Its unique position in Christianity, Islam and Judaism should have been a blessing that could catalyze the promotion of peace.  However, unfortunately, it became a curse because of Israel’s zero sum game approach.  As of 1967, Israel had adopted a strategy of “de-Palestinization”, including by separating Jerusalem from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, freezing land registration, constructing settlements and building roads to serve settlers, and obliterating Palestinian cultural and historical names.  “Not only are they targeting the alive, they are also targeting the dead,” said Mr. Isaac.


Israel had also begun using the environment as a pretext to confiscate Palestinian land, said Mr. Isaac, adding, “In Israel, settlements breed”.  These were examples of how Israel was trying to segregate Jerusalem from Bethlehem.  There was also the wall and now a wall of settlements that ran parallel to it. “Yet, the whole world was silent about it.”


The Palestinian rural areas were becoming “human warehouses” as many had started living in places where the “eyes of the Israelis were not so open”, he continued.  Ethnic displacement had been taking place, through the segregation wall, and Israel did not only extend the apartheid system to housing, but also to health and education.


The Palestinians, other Arabs, Muslims and Christians should never accept Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem, he said, adding that Israel’s attempt to divide the Al-Aqsa Mosque “may trigger a religious war with far-reaching consequences”.  The international community had a responsibility to prevent the continued de-Palestinization of Jerusalem and to protect the right of Palestinians there.  “Jerusalem is a global issue,” and it “should be under the United Nations umbrella with full support and mandate from the superpowers”, he declared. 


Mohamed Barakeh, Member of the Knesset, Jerusalem, said that 15 May 1948 was the date of “the disaster”.  In commemoration of that date, there would be numerous demonstrations and political events, which would stress the effects of “the disaster” that practically transformed all Palestinians into “a State of deported people”.


The document proclaiming the State of Israel claimed to do so in accordance with United Nations resolutions, he went on.  Yet it decreed that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, in contravention of United Nations resolutions, which provided for a Jerusalem under international Powers.  Consequently, the proclamation of the State of Israel and the stipulation of Jerusalem as its capital was the first violation of international law.


The Knesset, he continued, also ratified the Law on General Vote, which stipulated that it “hermitically seals off” any potential to negotiate the fate of Jerusalem, because it would be virtually impossible for any Israeli Government to muster a two-thirds majority to amend that law.  The law was an abusive one, which “flies in the face of the Palestinian people”.


There was an attempt to destroy the economy, as well as the cultural and social aspects of the Arab society living in East Jerusalem, with a view, Mr. Barakeh said, to transforming it into a society that was “weak and unable to face challenges”.


He pointed to terrorist cells, which he said were operating under the sponsorship of the Israeli authorities working to destroy both Muslim and Christian Holy Sites.  The Pope would be visiting the Holy Land in two weeks, perhaps also because of those attacks on mosques and churches.  That visit could be the cornerstone of questioning the status of Jerusalem.  “These Holy Sites need to be on the international agenda,” he noted.


There had to be an initiative to give new impetus to popular resistance in Jerusalem, he said, adding it was “completely absurd” that Muslims could not access Al-Aqsa Mosque until they had reached a certain age.  The international presence, as well as academic life in Jerusalem, should be strengthened.  The health and education sectors were in a disastrous state, and continuation of that state of affairs would definitely lead to a catastrophe and, eventually, to wiping out entirely the Palestinian identity.


That false narrative had the potential to lead to a religious war, “but that is not where the problem resides”; the question was about sovereignty and the continuation of the occupation, Mr. Barakeh said.  All sorts of programmes and work agendas could be put together; however, what could not be done was to arrive at a solution without a clear position from the United States.  Its unswerving support for Israel should have a counter-position — a “balance of interests” that took the concerns of others in the region into account.  “Jerusalem is calling out for help.”


Mahmoud Elkhafif, Coordinator, Assistance to the Palestinian People, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Geneva, noted that this was the first time there was a session dedicated to Jerusalem.  It was important to hear and assess what had been heard.  UNCTAD had been established in the early 1980s with a mandate to assess the impact of Israeli policy on the Palestinian economy.  Since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, involvement began on technical cooperation.  What had happened since 1967 was very difficult to study.  Jerusalem was not only special from a historical, cultural or religious point of view, but also from an international point of view.  “Jerusalem is Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is Palestinian, but it is also important for every human being on this Earth.” 


Since 1967, he said, the border of East Jerusalem had changed.  Palestinian Jerusalemites were classified as permanent residents with the right to live and work in Israel.  However, the work permit could be revoked at any time; over the years, about 50,000 Palestinians had lost their residency status in Jerusalem in that way.  The building of the barrier had redefined the city’s border and made studying it even more difficult, particularly from the Palestinian point of view.  


He said only 15 per cent of the annexed zone was designated for Palestinian houses.  Based on the restricted movement of Palestinians to and from Jerusalem, the economy of the East had lost many consumers.  There were no Palestinian banks in East Jerusalem, investment by Palestinians in Jerusalem was extremely difficult, and that issue must be addressed.  The poverty rate in East Jerusalem was 77 per cent for non-Jewish households as compared to 25 per cent for Israeli households. 


What could be done? he asked, highlighting some proposals.  Israel, the occupying Power under international law, should assume its responsibility.  For the international community, “there are so many international agencies and donors working in East Jerusalem,” Mr. Elkhafif said, adding that “better coordination among them is highly needed”.


He noted that Jerusalem could not survive without finding a solution to the banking sector, especially as it related to Palestinians living in East Jerusalem. It was very important to plan for the city as the capital of Palestine, and that must be taken seriously.  A very important issue pertained to data.  The Palestinian Authority could not fill that gap because it had no access to East Jerusalem and, thus, the international community should play a role in collecting data so that studies could be carried out. 


Wendy Pullan, Director, Martin Centre for Architecture and Urban Research, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge, said that Jerusalem was a very asymmetrical city, and inequalities had to be addressed in terms of its major urban issues.  Why ask the “urban question”?  First of all, it was important to realize that cities had been “built on the fault lines of cultures”, often resulting in clashes between groups.  However, there were also opportunities.


After nearly 50 years of occupation and conflict, Jerusalem was a “badly damaged city”, and any desirable long-term settlement would depend on its “urban healing”, she said, noting that threads of similar practices were being employed by Israel across Jerusalem.  Yet they were often being developed in different ways, including through settlement activities and land expropriations.  Various Israeli authorities were involved, including the settler organizations, the military and private enterprises.  Overall, there was “little clear Israeli policy in the public domain”, and that created “strategic confusion, which was very effective”.


It could be argued that there was a programme to restrict Palestinian growth and development, she continued.  The settlement programme was linked to other areas of concern, such as the Holy Places, but also to issues of transport, archaeology, heritage and tourism, all of which contributed to a successful Israeli settlement programme. 


She said the ring of settlements that circled West Jerusalem was clearly visible.  Also evident was the “patchwork” of settlements placed very close to Palestinian areas of habitation, restricting growth in those areas.  There was a lot of talk about the wall, which had galvanized world attention.  However, the wall itself was “only the tip of the iceberg of a very complex and a very harsh programme of closure that restricts Palestinians,” Ms. Pullan stated.


The settlements, she continued, were “built like fortresses”, and they could not be eliminated as quickly as the wall.  The road system also segregated the Palestinians and gave Israelis, including ordinary Israeli drivers, a sense of empowerment.  National parks were part of the Israeli settlement policy; they worked very powerfully and were understood as good things.  “Who can argue against a park?”  That symbol was used very effectively as part of the land expropriation and settlement programme. 


Archaeology also was brought into the settlement programme, she said.  Most difficult was the claim by El Ad of having found the remains of King David’s city, with which most archaeologists disagreed.  However, it attracted a huge number of tourists every year, who “don’t really know what they’re looking at, for the most part”.


Regarding settlers in the Old City, she said it was important to note that they tended to be the most radical of the settlers, unlike settlers in the West Bank who often merely sought to benefit from cheap housing opportunities.  There was therefore a very dangerous situation in East Jerusalem and a patchwork of settlements that was disrupting Palestinian contiguity.


Civilians were being used to create “radicalized frontiers” supported by urban spaces and urban structures, she continued.  Very strong psychological and symbolic factors were also at work.  Divided cities “do not flourish”.  New and creative solutions were needed.  “There is no question that Palestinians need to have justice within the cities, but that will have to be looked at very, very creatively,” she said, adding that there also was a need to look at what had been done and what could possibly be done in the future.


In the discussion that followed, speakers asked the panellists for their views on the State of Palestine’s accession to a number of Conventions.  Were Palestinian residents in Jerusalem starting to lose all hope of being reunited with the West Bank, given the realities surrounding the wall?  One speaker said the mention that there were some groups purchasing properties in order to keep or convert them into Jewish businesses was interesting.  If somebody was willing to buy, it meant that someone was willing to sell.  Who were the owners of those properties?  Another speaker inquired about the existence of an urban barrier between East and West Jerusalem, while another noted that stories about hardships facing Palestinians in their daily lives, particularly in Jerusalem, were missing from the conference.  It was important to tell real stories from the people and to hear their voices.  Such persons should be invited to such meetings in the future.


“What can we do once we have understood the story?” beyond portraying the situation on the ground, asked another speaker.


Participating in the discussion were Zahir Tanin (Afghanistan), Chairperson of the Meeting, as well as a representative from Chile.  Also, Mr. Abdul Hadi, the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs; a representative from the International Progress Organisation, Vienna; a lawyer from Malaysia; a representative from the Early Childhood Resources Centre, Jerusalem; and Dr. Wasfi Kailani, Hashemite Fund for the restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, Amman.


Adnan Al-Husseini, Minister for Jerusalem Affairs of the State of Palestine, also spoke, outlining some of the recommendations made thus far during the meetings.


The International Meeting will resume today at 3 p.m.to hear from experts and hold a discussion on the role of the international community in promoting a just solution.  Later, the Meeting would hold its closing session, hearing statements from representatives of Turkey, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the State of Palestine, and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.


Plenary 2


ZAHIR TANIN (Afghanistan), Chairperson, said that this plenary meeting focused on the current situation in Jerusalem.  While yesterday’s meetings had focused on the difficult conditions imposed by the occupying Power on the Palestinian population in their daily lives, the meeting this morning would focus on the prevailing situation in greater detail.


JAD ISAAC, Director-General, Applied Research Institute, Jerusalem, said that Jerusalem was the epicentre of the Middle East conflict.  Its unique position in Christianity, Islam and Judaism should have been a blessing that could catalyze the promotion of peace.  However, unfortunately, it turned out to be a curse because of Israel’s zero sum game approach.  As of 1967, Israel adopted a strategy of “de-Palestinization”, including by separating Jerusalem from the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, freezing land registration, constructing settlements, building roads to serve settlers and obliterating Palestinian cultural and historical names.  “Not only are they targeting the alive, they are also targeting the dead,” said Mr. Isaac.


Israel had also begun using the environment as a pretext to confiscate Palestinian lands, he said, adding that most of the green areas “all of a sudden” appeared to be around the Holy Basin.  Those were biblical parks that had been created in Jerusalem to de-Palestinize it. In Israel, settlements “breed,” he said, calling such activity examples of Israel’s attempts to segregate Jerusalem from Bethlehem.  There was also the wall and now a wall of settlements that ran parallel to it. “Yet, the whole world was silent about it.”


The Palestinian rural areas were becoming “human warehouses”, he went on, as many people there had started living in areas where the “eyes of the Israelis were not so open”.  Palestinian Jerusalemites were forced to live outside the municipal boundaries.  Ethnic displacement had been taking place, through the segregation wall.  Israel not only extended the apartheid system to housing, but also to health and education.  Economically, Palestinians paid 27 per cent of municipal taxes, yet they only received 5 per cent of municipal services.  Settlers moving to Jerusalem enjoyed a five-year “Arnona tax” exemption.  Thereafter, they paid reduced rates, a privilege only awarded to settlers and never to Palestinians.


The Palestinians, other Arabs, Muslims and Christians should never accept Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem, said the speaker.  Israel’s attempt to divide the Al-Aqsa Mosque “may trigger a religious war with far-reaching consequences”.  The international community had a responsibility to prevent the continued de-Palestinization of Jerusalem and to protect the right of Palestinians in Jerusalem.  “Jerusalem is a global issue” and “should be under the United Nations’ umbrella with full support and mandate from the super-Powers”.  We have to dispel the myths, which Israel adopted as narrative, Mr. Isaac said.  


MOHAMED BARAKEH, Member of the Knesset, Jerusalem, said that 15 May 1948 was the date of “the disaster”.  In commemoration, numerous demonstrations and political events were planned, which would stress the effects of “the disaster” that had practically transformed all Palestinian people into “a State of deported people”.  The document proclaiming the State of Israel claimed to be in accordance with United Nations resolutions.  Yet, it decreed that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, in contravention of those resolutions, which provided for a Jerusalem under international Powers.  Consequently, the proclamation of the State of Israel and the stipulation of Jerusalem as its capital was the first violation of international law.  De facto Israel had imposed its law and sovereignty on East Jerusalem.  On 30 June 1980, Israel had decided to impose a constitutional law, which proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital, which, in practice, was an annexation of Jerusalem.


The Knesset, he continued, also ratified the Law on General Vote, which stipulated that the Government was obliged to put to a vote any decision concerning East Jerusalem.  That law could only be rescinded by a general vote of the people or 80 of the 120 Knesset members.  It “hermitically seals off” any potential to negotiate the fate of Jerusalem, because it would be virtually impossible for any Israeli Government to muster a two-thirds majority to amend that law.  It was an abusive law that “flies in the face of the Palestinian people.  In a de-facto way, Israel was attempting to ensure that the situation was completely covered”.


Israel proclaimed and declared that it respected all faiths and holy sites in accordance with its laws, he said, adding that in practice, however, it opposed those principles, ideas, precepts and rules declared in their own laws.  There was an attempt to destroy the economy, as well as the cultural and social aspects of the Arab society living in East Jerusalem, with a view to transforming it into a society that was “weak and unable to face challenges”, he said.


There were terrorist cells, which were operating under the sponsorship of the Israeli authorities, small groups that were responsible for “making the Muslims of Jerusalem pay the price”, he said.  The Head of the Israeli Secret Services acknowledged that Israel could annihilate those terrorist groups, if such a decision was taken.  Those groups were working to destroy both Muslim and Christian holy sites.  The Pope would be visiting the Holy Land in two weeks, perhaps also because of those attacks on mosques and churches.  That visit could be the cornerstone of the question of the status of Jerusalem.  “These holy sites need to be on the international agenda,” he noted.


There had to be an initiative to give new impetus to popular resistance in Jerusalem.  It was “completely absurd” that Muslims could not access Al-Aqsa Mosque until they reached a certain age.  There was a need to strengthen the international presence, as well as academic life in Jerusalem, as was mentioned yesterday.  The health and education sectors were in a disastrous state.  The continuation of such a state of affair would definitely lead to a catastrophe, eventually leading to “the Palestinian identity being entirely wiped out”.


“The world is facing an ethical responsibility as far as Jerusalem goes,” said Mr. Barakeh.  However, Israel was attempting to transform the Jerusalem issue into a dispute between two religious groups.


Such a false narrative had the potential of leading to a religious war, “but that is not where the problem resides,” added Mr. Barakeh.  “The question is sovereignty and the continuation of the occupation.”  All sorts of programmes and work agendas could be put together; however, what could not be done was to arrive at a solution without a clear position from the United States.  The United States’ unwavering support for Israel should have a counter-position.  “There should be a balance of interests,” taking account those of others in the region.  “Jerusalem is calling out for help.”


MAHMOUD ELKHAFIF, Coordinator, Assistance to the Palestinian People, UNCTAD, Geneva, noted that this was the first time a session was dedicated to Jerusalem.  It was important to hear and assess what had been said.  The UNCTAD had been established in the early 1980s with a mandate to assess the impact of Israeli policy on the Palestinian economy.  Since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, involvement had been on technical cooperation.  What had happened since 1967 was very difficult to study.  One recommendation had been to study the economic and social situation in East Jerusalem and to fill the gap.  Jerusalem was not only special from a historical, cultural or religious point of view, but also from an international point of view.  “Jerusalem is Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is Palestinian, but it is also important for every human being on this Earth.” 


Since 1967, its border had changed, he said.  Palestinian Jerusalemites were classified as permanent residents with the right to live and work in Israel.  However, the work permit could be revoked at any time; over the years, about 50,000 Palestinians had lost their residency status in Jerusalem that way.  The building of the barrier had redefined the city’s border and made its study even more difficult; studying Jerusalem from the Palestinian point of view was extremely difficult. 


Only 15 per cent of the annexed zone was designated for Palestinian houses, he said, adding that currently, given the restriction on the movement of Palestinians to and from Jerusalem, the economy of the East had lost many consumers.   In 2010, more than 200,000 settlers were living in 16 settlements and suburbs within the barrier, a population almost as large as the Palestinian population of the city. 


Additionally, he said, there were no Palestinian banks in East Jerusalem, and Palestinians were not willing to borrow money from Israeli banks.  Investment by Palestinians in Jerusalem was extremely difficult, and that issue must be addressed.  As a result, most East Jerusalemites deposited their money in Palestinian banks in the West Bank.  Unemployment and poverty were much higher in Jerusalem as compared to Israel.  The poverty rate in East Jerusalem was 77 per cent for non-Jewish households as compared to 25 per cent for Israeli households. 


What could be done? he asked.  There were some proposals.  Israel, the occupying Power, must assume its responsibility under international law.  For the international community, “there are so many international agencies and donors working in East Jerusalem,” he said, adding that “better coordination among them is highly needed.”


He said that Jerusalem could not survive without finding a solution to the banking sector, especially as it related to Palestinians living in East Jerusalem.  It was very important to plan for the city as the capital of Palestine, and that should be taken seriously.  A very important issue pertained to data; however, the Palestinian Authority could not fill that gap because it had no access to East Jerusalem.  The international community should play a role in collecting data so that studies could be carried out. 


WENDY PULLAN, Director, Martin Centre for Architecture and Urban Research, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge, said that the city of Jerusalem was very asymmetrical and inequalities must be addressed in terms of its major urban issues.  Drawing attention to a multinational and multidisciplinary project on “Conflict in Cities and the Contested State”, which she had directed, she said it had allowed for comparisons, albeit to a limited degree, between Jerusalem and other divided cities.  That could be useful in a variety of ways.  Why ask the urban question?  First of all, it was important to realize that cities had been “built on the fault lines of cultures”, often resulting in clashes between groups.  However, there were also opportunities.


After nearly 50 years of occupation and conflict, Jerusalem was a “badly damaged city” and any desirable long-term settlement would depend on the “urban healing of the city”, she added. 


She noted that threads of similar practices were being employed by Israel across Jerusalem, but they were often developed in different ways, including through settlement activities and land expropriations.  Various Israeli authorities were involved, including the settler organizations, the military and private enterprises.  It was also important to note that there was “little clear Israeli policy in the public domain”.  That created “strategic confusion, which was very effective”, she said.


It was argued that there was certainly a programme to restrict Palestinian growth and development, she said, adding that the settlement programme was linked to other areas of concern, such as the holy places, but also to issues of transport, archaeology, heritage and tourism, all of which contributed to a successful Israeli settlement programme. 


A ring of settlements around the area of West Jerusalem was clearly visible, she went on.  Another outstanding feature was the “patchwork” of settlements placed very close to Palestinian areas of habitation, restricting growth in those areas.  There was a lot of talk about the wall, which had galvanized world attention.  However, the wall itself was “only the tip of the iceberg of a very complex and a very harsh programme of closure that restricts Palestinians”, she stated.


The settlements were “built like fortresses”, and they could not be eliminated as quickly as the wall, she said.  The road system also segregated the Palestinians and gave Israelis, including ordinary drivers, a sense of empowerment. 


She said national parks were also part of the Israeli settlement policy; it was not the settlement of people, but that of green space.  They worked very powerfully on two levels:  a national park was passed by law in the Knesset and to eliminate one, a two-thirds majority was needed, which was virtually impossible.  Another problem was the symbolic understanding of parks; they were understood as good things.  “Who can argue against a park?”  That symbol was used very effectively as part of the land expropriation and settlement programme. 


Another system in connection with the settlement programme concerned archaeology, she said, pointing to the most difficult part, namely, the claim by El Ad of having found the remains of King David’s city, which with most archaeologists disagreed.  However, it attracted a huge number of tourists every year “who don’t really know what they’re looking at for the most part.”


She said that settlers in the Old City tended to be the most radical of the settlers, unlike settlers in the West Bank who often merely sought to benefit from cheap housing opportunities.  There was therefore a very dangerous situation in East Jerusalem.  A patchwork of settlements was disrupting Palestinian contiguity.  It could not be emphasized enough how much the tight spaces created by settlement activity in East Jerusalem made a difference and created a tense situation; “a particular typography was created inside the Old City”.  Civilians were being used to create “radicalized frontiers” supported by urban spaces and urban structures.  Very strong psychological and symbolic factors were also at work. 


Another problem was that decisions were often made without understanding what was really going on, she said, describing that as a temporal problem.  The city was damaged in many cases, but outsiders often did not see that, as Israel only let visitors see the undamaged areas.  Divided cities “do not flourish”.  New and creative solutions were needed, she said.  Undoubtedly, Palestinians needed to have justice within the cities, but that would have to be looked at very, very creatively.  There was a need to look at what had been done and what could possibly be done in the future, she concluded. 


Discussion


Mr. Tanin noted that two weeks ago in Geneva a discussion had been held on the accession of Palestine to a number of Conventions.  He asked the panellists for their views on that topic.  Also, were Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem starting to lose all hope of being reunited with the West Bank, given the realities on the ground? he asked.


Mr. Barakeh said that Palestine’s accession to international conventions had come a bit late.  However, the decisions to accede stressed a number of important elements, namely a different basis for negotiations, a recognition of the State of Palestine.  The issue of Jerusalem challenged Israel’s occupation of the eastern part of the city and it needed to be resolved in accordance with international law.


Mr. Elkhafif said that the accession of the State of Palestine to international conventions was a legitimate issue.  Unfortunately, the United States’ mediator was not impartial.  “We had gone from a peace agreement to a framework agreement,” he said.


Ms. Pullan said she certainly did not want to belittle or diminish the suffering of the Palestinians caused by the wall.  One of the things found in cities divided by walls was that the local people were tremendously resourceful in learning to overcome challenges.  However, it did not make for a good situation.  The wall was part of a very harsh and complex regime in force.  The bypass roads would be more difficult to deal with in the long-term than the wall.


The representative of Chile said Mr. Barakeh’s presentation had been particularly interesting.  Quite impressive had been the mention of groups purchasing properties in order to keep or convert them into Jewish businesses.  If somebody was willing to buy, it meant that someone was willing to sell.  Who were the owners of those properties?


Mr. Abdul Hadi inquired about symbols and samples of judaization of Jerusalem.  There had been a huge United Nations resolution condemning it and asking the Israeli Government and others to stop such measures.  He wondered whether Palestinians were possibly in a position to ask the Committee or the General Assembly to challenge Israelis on all those measures.  “What can we do once we have understood the story” and how can “we go beyond portraying the situation on the ground”, he asked. 


A Professor of the International Progress Organization, Vienna, asked, whether a common statement could be prepared to state what could and should be done to alter the present situation, as well as call on the international community to provide more active support to the Palestinian struggle.


A lawyer from Malaysia asked whether Ms. Pullan could elaborate and explain whether there was a difference in the urban frontier between East and West Jerusalem.


A representative of Early Childhood Resource Centre, Jerusalem, said that during the last two days, very distinguished experts and speakers had made presentations.  However, some issues that should have been addressed had not been, including stories about the daily hardship most Palestinians faced in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem.  It was important to tell real stories about Palestinians and to hear their voices, she said.  It was recommended that such persons be invited to future meetings. 


Dr. Wasfi Kailani said that many recommendations had been discussed, which could be included in the final document.  Perhaps they could be read out by Mr. Al-Husseini, he suggested.


Mr. Al-Husseini referred to recommendations put forth during the Meeting, including that participants should adopt the opinion of the experts from the conference “On the Road to Jerusalem”.  Participants favourably welcomed the invitation to visit Jerusalem by whatever means possible, to pray freely, protect the holy sites, and to support the society of Jerusalem.  In order to face the magnitude of the abuse by Israel and to put a stop to the apartheid regime, similar to that which prevailed in apartheid South Africa, an appeal had been made to universities to be vigilant about the Jewish version of Jerusalem and Palestine.  Participants requested that the United States cease and desist its support for Israel, as Israel was violating international law.  States and Governments were invited to link their bilateral, economic, political and cultural interests to everything that was happening in terms of abuses and violations aimed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as violations carried out by settlers.


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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.