Palestinian youth groups on Saturday expressed outrage over plans to allow the participation of Israelis in the first-ever “Bethlehem Walk.”
The event, which is expected to take place on October 5, will see Israelis, Palestinians and members of nations and religions from around the world walk quietly in Bethlehem.
Israeli and Palestinian organizers said the event is aimed at promoting change, acknowledging basic common goals and sowing the seeds of understanding and acceptance.
“Walking in mindfulness is a quiet walk full of respect for the here and now,” the organizers said in their invitation. “It is an experience that helps us to develop calm, balance and confidence when faced with the challenges of reality.”
The youth groups opposed to the event called for its cancelation because it is a form of normalization with Israel.
Palestinian activists from the Dehaishe refugee camp accused the Palestinian organizers of treason. They said the event was an insult to the “blood of the Palestinian martyrs who were killed in Bethlehem” when the IDF invaded the city during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002.
Some activists published on Facebook pictures of Palestinians involved in the planning of the event and called on the Palestinian Authority to take action against them.
“We won’t allow the Israelis to desecrate Bethlehem,” said one of the activists. “We will do our utmost to prevent this disgraceful event from taking place in our holy city.”
Meanwhile, Palestinians in Bethlehem also expressed outrage over the PA’s decision to allow Egged buses carrying tourists to enter the city.
The Palestine News Network agency said that Palestinians were surprised to see Israeli buses inside Bethlehem in the past few days.
A spokesman for the PA Ministry of Tourism said that his ministry had not been consulted about the decision to allow Egged buses into Bethlehem. He said that Israel should, in return, permit Palestinian buses and tour guides to operate inside Israel.