The American Jewish Committee visits the West Bank to gain insights into life in Palestine - Foundation Office Palestinian Territories
The day began with a geopolitical tour through East Jerusalem by Daniel Seidemann, founder of the NGO ‘Terrestrial Jerusalem’. He explained how in the historical context of the division of Jerusalem and the impact of the occupation, two separate communities emerged in one city, divided by what he calls a physical as well as a ‘cognitive ‘ border which has implications on the freedom of movement, civil as well as political rights of the Palestinians living there. The delegation then met with Dr. Khalil Shikaki at the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) to gain an insight into Palestinian public opinion polls and how these are conducted in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Such polls are concerned with questions of political affiliation, attitude towards Israel, views on the future as well as issues such as violence and the performance of the political authority. In this context, Dr. Shikaki also spoke about the division between Fatah and Hamas, the two leading political parties in the Palestinian Territories and the difficulty of Fatah in negotiating its relationship with both the Israeli government as well as Hamas considering.
Subsequently, the delegation spoke to Sam Bahour, a founder of Paltel, the first Palestinian Telecommunications Company in the Palestinian Territories who shared his thoughts on the technological as well as economic situation in Palestine. He specifically mentioned the difficulties of increasing innovation and technological advancement in the Palestinian Territories given that these are closely monitored by Israel. In this regard he also provided the delegation with some illustrative examples such as the struggle to establish a 3G network in the Palestinian Territories. Lastly, the delegation met with Laith Kassis from the Palestinian startup scene and Fadi Quran, a young Palestinian who campaigns and aims to increase awareness about the situation in Palestine. After some insights into the work of especially young Palestinian activists and those striving to make a change, the meeting turned into a lively discussion on quality of life in both Israel and Palestine and possible channels for improvement.