Welcome to Palestine/Bienvenue en Palestine On Its Way, Despite Huge Israeli Intervention

8 July 2011

Welcome to Palestine (Bienvenue en Palestine), an initiative with over 550 activists from Europe, the U.S. and Canada, began flights into Ben Gurion Airport today. The action was begun by a group in France, who was invited by 15 Palestinian civil society organizations, including Palestine Solidarity Project, to enter Ben Gurion airport (the only functioning airport in historic Palestine) and state their intention to enter Palestine and visit family and friends. As their first press release stated,

“The July “Welcome to Palestine” initiative will take participants (Palestinians and Internationals) to different parts of Palestine from the north to the Negev and highlight the power of nonviolence and peace building efforts. Visitors will be accommodated locally and will enjoy Palestinian hospitality and a program of networking, fellowship, and volunteer peace work in Palestinian towns and villages together with hundreds of local activists.”

However, Israeli authorities immediately announced they would prevent these visitors from coming. Several hundred in Geneva and Paris were prevented from boarding planes, as airlines informed participants that they had been forbidden from entering by the Israeli government. Israel also stated they would immediately deport any activists entering with this initiative, and arrest any welcoming party attempting to meet them at the airport.

Still, hundreds of participants, including a large contingent from Germany and the United Kingdom have been allowed to board their airplanes, and are en route to Ben Gurion.

PSP will maintain updates as they become available.