New York, February 28, 2012—OneVoice Palestine brought around 150 Palestinian youth on Friday to plant dozens of trees and Palestinian flags in a barren area east of Bethlehem under threat of being confiscated by Israeli military order.
This land is categorized as Area C under the terms of the Oslo Accords, giving Israel control over both the security and civil administration of the area. The Quartet – made up of the U.S., the U.N., the European Union and Russia – and other international actors have been pressuring Israel to give Palestinians more access to Area C land, which constitutes 60% of the entire West Bank, as a confidence building measure. Lack of access holds back Palestinian economic development and is a serious impediment to their ability to travel between Palestinian cities and towns.
OneVoice youth activists from chapters throughout the West Bank met in Dar Salah and then marched to the hills overlooking the Jordan Valley, which have been threatened with confiscation. Senior OneVoice youth activist Ibrahim Mubarak initiated the activity, bringing members of the nonprofit he leads, Nibras for Youth Generations, to join as well. Several national media organizations covered the activity, and highlights appeared in print media and on TV, even on a day that saw violent clashes in other parts of Palestine.
“This is an effort to preserve this Palestinian land, part of the Bethlehem governorate, under threat of confiscation from the rightist Israeli government,” Samer Makhlouf, OneVoice Palestine’s executive director, told the Palestine News Network. “The message, under the heading ‘This is Our Land, Leave Us Alone,’ called for the recognition of a Palestinian state based on ’67 borders.”
OneVoice Europe’s executive director, John Lyndon, was present at the activity. “It is inspiring to see so many Palestinians take to this windy, rainy hillside and firmly declare both their opposition to expanding Israeli settlement, and their commitment to the two-state solution,” he said. “OneVoice Palestine has shown today that mobilizing youth in a positive and constructive way can have an impact both locally and nationally, as can be seen from the number of people here lending a hand, and the significant media coverage that our efforts have generated.”
OneVoice Palestine hopes to spread this initiatives to other areas facing Israeli confiscation orders.
Footage courtesy of Palestine News Network.