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Hundreds of international peace activists will arrive at Ben Gurion Airport in April 2012, en route to staying with Palestinians

The organizers of the action, denied entry to Israel in the "Fly-in" several months ago: "We have no intention to riot or confront, buses will be waiting to take us to Bethlehem"

Gush Shalom: The government should allow the activists to visit the Palestinians

A few days ago was held in Paris a large-scale meeting of European peace activists, who had been denied entry to Israel at the event known as "The Fly-In" several months ago. In the meeting it was decided to organize hundreds of activists promoters from all over the world under the title "Welcome to Palestine", who would arrive at Bethlehem District of the West Bank during Easter next year, from 15 to 21 April 2012, and engage in educational activity with Palestinian children. The organizers stress that they have no intention to take any violent action or provoke a disturbance at the airport, and their sole intention is to go through Israeli the passport control, like all law-abiding travelers, leave the terminal, get in an orderly fashion on the buses which would be waiting for them and go to meet their Palestinian hosts. The only reason they would be coming to the Israeli airport is that the Palestinians have no airport of their own, and anyone who wants to meet the Palestinians must go through Israel.

Israeli authorities are in the frequent habit of denying entry to Israel to visitors who state their intention of visiting the Occupied Territories, and therefore peace activists from abroad are usually forced to lie and pretend to be tourists who came to visit Israel - but in this case, the hundreds of activists intend to speak the truth and openly inform the immigration authorities of their intentions, thus challenging the Government of Israel's policies.

"We urge the governments of the world to support the Palestinians' right to receive visitors, and the right of these governments' own citizens to openly vist Palestine" states an international petition supporting the initiative, signed by among others the Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa along with Ronnie Kasrilis, a Jewish South African who was a cabinet minister after the fall of apartheid, as well as Tony Benn of the British Labour Party, the Egyptian feminist writer Nawal Saadawi, the well-known professor Noam Chomsky from the United States and many others, including Israeli peace activist Nurit Peled-Elhanan.

Gush Shalom Spokesperson Adam Keller said: "It is to be hoped that the Government of Israel learned the lesson of the consternation it caused to its own international standing with the events of last July's "Fly-In". The drama was entirely unnecessary, and there had been then no need to threaten international airlines to make them turn passengers away, fill the Ben Gurion Airport with by hundreds of police, detain arriving activists under degrading degrading conditions and deport them. Indeed, all the dire predictions floated in the media at the time proved completely false. Now the government has enough time to rethink its position, use common sense, correct the error made last time and make the obvious decision - let the activists from abroad, coming to meet with the Palestinians, reach their destination without interference."

Contact: Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson 054-2340749

It is possible to contact the representative of the organizers in Paris Olivia Zemor 00-33-979335452 olivia.zemor @