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Twinning with Palestine

The Britain - Palestine Twinning Network - "promoting twinning and friendship links"

Activities for the network in 2011 include * Women's visit - March * Twinning Conference in Palestine - April * Visits to Palestine April and October * Conference in Liverpool - November.

About us

www.indymedia.org.uk

24.04.2006 00:56 | Social Struggles | World

The British-Palestinian Friendship Conference held in April 2006 in Bethlehem has helped take the twinning movement on to yet another stage.

When the twinning conference in Palestine was planned in 2005, there was not yet a date for the Palestinian election. Following a conference in Camden last September, Palestinian delegates wanted to move the twinning movement forward by hosting a conference in the West Bank - and the Hamas government had not been elected.

But by the time the conference happened in Bethlehem on April 13th, the new government was in place and Britain along with Europe and America was punishing the Palestinian people for the way they had exercised their democracy, by cutting the aid that the occupied people depended on.

More than 120 delegates, British and Palestinian, gathered in Bethlehem to a background of worry about an economy starved of resources, a public service not being paid, and people getting thinner. The context was pressure on NGOs to build an infrastructure to replace the Palestinian Authority while it was under Hamas control, and it was important to make it clear that this is a movement about solidarity and human rights, not an attempt to bypass the government that the Palestinian people had chosen.

Palestinian speakers wanted first to tell the British people how much this country is responsible for the intolerable situation they are in. Troubles created in Palestine by Britain started with Balfour and his promise of Palestinian land to the Jewish people (1917) and "the British Mandate was also an Occupation,” pointed out Fouad Kokali, from the Legislative Council. But right now, Britain is also taking an active part in a Western collective punishment of the Palestinians, starving them from aid as collective punishment for exercising their right of choice of government.

In contrast, the movement to build twinning and friendship links was greeted very warmly. "You have a vital role,” said the Mayor of Bethlehem, "to protest against the inhuman and intolerable treatment of our people.” Palestinians involved already in twinning links spoke of their appreciation for the support and solidarity that they get from their partners, who through visits and practical projects "build bridges of understanding.” (Salah Ayyad, from the Abu Dis Camden Committee) Practical workshops in Arabic and English examined models of twinning campaign, ways of organising and issues that were raised.

The movement to link Palestinian and British towns, villages and universities is going from strength. Groups of all sorts in Britain are making the links - Palestine Solidarity groups, church groups, peace and justice and human rights groups, and many purpose-made twinning committees. The most effective groups are working with a wide range of people in their local area, health workers, teachers, youth workers, each making their own campaigns.

By the September conference 05, there were about 20 links of various sorts, many of them new. The network created by the conference in Britain supported and developed these links. By the end of this month, April 06, there are over 40 links - several new ones forged in the run-up to the conference and at least two new ones since. Now the Palestinian partners have in turn created a network between them.

We have come away with requests from many Palestinian places seeking new twinning partners and would like to hear from groups in new areas who would like to link with them.

For more information, look at www.twinningwithpalestine.net

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Events in 2011

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Women's Tour March 2011

Conference Palestine April 2011

Conference - Liverpool November 2011

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The Israeli Apartheid wall "security barrier"

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