A Palestinian Christian nonprofit organization in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, is facing sharp criticism for “hosting” former MK Yehuda Glick.
Glick posted on his Facebook page a photo of him visiting the Beit Al Liqa organization in the Christian town together with German tourists.
“Tourism is back,” Glick wrote. “Talking to 50 German tourists in Bethlehem house of peace Beit Al Liqa Organization.”
Established in 1996, the Palestinian Christian organization says that it seeks to serve the Palestinian community through various programs. It also provides job opportunities for Palestinian families in the Bethlehem area. The organization is located in the middle of Beit Jala.
Glick’s Facebook post sparked a wave of condemnations by many Palestinians, who accused the organization of hosting a “right-wing extremist” and “promoting normalization” with Israelis.
عاجل - محافظة بيت لحم: إغلاق جمعية بيت اللقاء في بيت جالا لمدة أسبوع لحين استكمال التحقيق في استضافتها المستوطن المتطرف يهودا غليك، وعلى أجهزة الأمن اتخاذ الإجراءات اللازمة فوراً.نقلا عن اجيال pic.twitter.com/OJjfaksPFS— Rafat Darawsheh (@rafatdarawsheh) March 2, 2022
Sources in Bethlehem said the Palestinian Authority has launched an investigation into the issue surrounding Glick’s visit.
According to the sources, the PA issued an order to close down the Christian organization for one week pending the results of an investigation.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization condemned the event as a “national crime” and a “betrayal of Jerusalem.”
Beit Al Liqa issued a statement in which it claimed that it was unaware of Glick’s presence.
“Beit Al Liqa has absolutely not worked to hold dialogue activities with suspicious persons, groups, or institutions,” the statement read. “Rather, it is working to combat all forms of normalization [with Israel]. We are also proud of our Palestinian identity and our many services to our Palestinian people.”
The organization said that it was surprised by news circulating on social media about the visit of “an extremist settler named Yehuda Glick to Beit Al Liqa.”
The organization said that it hosted a group of German tourists at its guest house, and as part of their itinerary, Johnny Shahwan, chairman of the board of directors, spoke about the activities of Beit Al Liqa in serving the local Palestinian community.
“At the end of the speech, an unidentified person suddenly entered, and we only learned today through social media that this person was the Zionist extremist Yehuda Glick,” the organization said in its statement. “At the end of the meeting, the German group leader asked to take a group picture, and this strange person came and stood next to Johnny Shahwan. We affirm that we were not aware of the presence of this extremist Zionist and that he was not part of the program.”
Referring to the criticism, the organization called on Palestinians to visit Beit Al Liqa “and to listen to us before taking any position.”
It said that the organization had “a large number of lectures and seminars against “Zionist ideology” and hosted writers and intellectuals “who published books against Zionism and Christian Zionism.”
In a related development, the Palestinian Supreme Presidential Committee for the Follow-up of Church Affairs condemned the hosting of Glick in Beit Jala.
“This reception comes at a time when the Palestinian people are facing the violations of the occupation and its settlers against Christian and Islamic places of worship in Jerusalem,” the committee said in a statement. “The committee affirms that, in cooperation with all the security services and legal authorities in the State of Palestine, it will take the necessary measures against Beit Al Liqa.”