Palestinian PM briefs Arab youth delegation on life under occupation

AMMAN: The four-day “Towards Victory for Jerusalem” conference in Ramallah, featuring a delegation of youths from seven Islamic countries, concluded on Thursday. 

The conference, co-sponsored by the Arab League, was held under the patronage of Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Football Association and Olympic Committee, and secretary-general of the Fatah Central Committee.

Participants — who came from Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, Libya, Kuwait, Qatar, and Mauritania — toured various areas of Palestine, and spent Dec. 25 in Bethlehem. Before the conference’s final session, they were guests of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah.

A government press release said that Hamdallah “gave a review of the political situation and the suffering under occupation and he spoke about efforts toward national reconciliation as well as international efforts to create a mini state in Gaza.”

Hamdallah called on Hamas “to respond positively to the reconciliation initiative of President Mahmoud Abbas so that Palestinians can face these efforts against the Palestinian cause in a united way,” the statement said.

Speaking about Jerusalem in the opening session, Rajoub said that Palestinians and Arabs are united over Jerusalem.

“There is consensus about the Arab context of Jerusalem, which Palestinians — both Christians and Muslims — continue to defend,” he said. He went on to praise “the heroes” who have defended the city over the years, and referred to Jerusalem as “a mosaic of Palestine where Muslims and Christians are living together and fighting for the city’s independence.”

The delegates also heard speeches from a number of leaders and experts from Jerusalem. Hanna Issa, secretary-general of the Islamic Christian Committee for Jerusalem and the Holy Sites, told Arab News that the delegates visited historic sites in Jerusalem and Nablus, Bethlehem and Hebron and witnessed firsthand the reality of life for Palestinians.

“I told the delegates that it is great to see active young people from Arab countries coming to visit their peers in Palestine and that (there should be) further visits that aim at strengthening relations with Jerusalem and Palestine.”

On the closing day, Rajoub expressed his deep appreciation to the delegation for their visit. “The Arab League clearly supports these visits which we hope will continue and increase,” he said, noting that Israel had prevented delegates from Tunisia and Morocco from attending the conference.

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