KAS Scholars meet Palestinian startups, civil society and learn about political reality - Foundation Office Palestinian Territories
The first day began with a joint political briefing by Marc Frings, head of the county office in the Palestinian Territories and Dr. Alexander Brakel, head of the country office in Israel. The briefing not only covered topics relating to the political situation but also the challenges which both communities, Palestinians and Israelis are facing. After this first comprehensive introduction, the delegation embarked on a political tour through East Jerusalem with Daniel Seidemann, founder of the Israeli non-governmental organization Terrestrial Jerusalem. Seidemann explained the current status of the city of Jerusalem and gave the delegation an insight into the living conditions of the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem.
Following the tour, the delegation visited the International Christian Committee (ICC) and received a briefing from Bernard and Zack Saballa on the current situation of Christians in Palestine. While the students were particularly interested in the role of the Vatican and the Pope in the Holy Land, the hosts emphasized the very important role of interreligious dialogue within the Palestinian society. The Saballa’s emphasized not only the institutional discrimination of Christians within the region, but also the danger of the rise of right-wing parties in Israel. At the end of the first day, the scholarship holders visited the KAS Israel office, where they met Guy Band, the country director of Action Reconciliation Service for Peace, and discussed the role of Germany in the historical process of rehabilitation.
On the next day, the delegation visited Ramallah and their first stop was the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The delegation was welcomed by Dr. Amal Jadou, Assistant Manager for European-Palestinian Relations and thus an important contact for the German Federal Government. Dr. Jadou addressed the current relations with Israel, the intra-Palestinian division, the fragile situation in the Arab world, and the actions of the US government under US Donald Trump.
After this overview of the current political and diplomatic reality, the delegation had the opportunity to interact with representatives from the Palestinian startup scene during a seminar organized by Flow, a Palestinian accelerator and included a number of other speakers such as our partner organization, Gaza Sky Geeks. The session focused on the biggest challenges Palestinian startups, primarily the right to freedom of movement.
During a joint lunch, the delegation gained valuable insights into the involvement of representatives of the Palestinian civil society. These came from the fields of sports, culture and media. Afterwards, entrepreneur and businessman Sam Bahour reported on economic and financial disadvantages due to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. In particular, he focused on an ongoing campaign targeting the giant online payment platform PayPal. The discussion focused on the lack of equal opportunities for Palestinians in comparison to the Israeli settlers living in the West Bank settlements.
Subsequently, Ahlam Taweel and Ameer Jabareen from our partner organization REFORM talked about the social and political reality of the Palestinian youth and how it limits their influence on the government. Other topics included the establishment of student movements at universities, as well as the reform process that each party should undergo to regain access to youth. Finally, our office manager, Marc Frings, addressed specific questions from the scholarship holders and highlighted the current political situation from a very detailed perspective. The second day concluded with a dinner in Ramallah where the participants also had the opportunity to give their feedback over the past two days.