Hebron Mayor Khaled Osaily underlined once again the importance of French-Palestinian relations which help build cooperation partnerships between municipalities in both countries. He gave as an example the twinning agreements between Hebron and both Arcueil and Belfort,
which have provided tremendous support to the 3-year old International Campaign for the Inscription of Hebron on Unesco’s World Heritage List. He also touched on the positive impact of recommendations adopted by the French-Palestinian Decentralization Conference held in Hebron.
Osaily was speaking at a meeting with Hélène Mandroux, Mayor of Montpellier and her accompanying delegation. Mandroux is currently visiting the oPt to get better acquainted with conditions there and also to sign a twinning agreement with Bethlehem Municipality as part of the Project to strengthen partnerships between Palestinian and French cities in line with a recommendation adopted by the Decentralization Conference.
Osaily expressed his joy at this rapid strengthening of cooperation and bilateral relations. “The Palestinian people highly values the political support provided by France to its cause which was recently reflected by the French vote for Palestine’s Unesco membership. We hope that the French Government will provide similar support to the Palestinian bid for full membership of the UN”, he said.
Osaily then spoke about conditions in Hebron, its history and the discriminatory division imposed on the city by occupation authorities. He recalled the massacre which took place exactly 18 years ago at Al Ibrahimi Mosque, leading Israel to close down Hebron’s main arteries and to turn the Old City into a ghost city. He condemned military orders to close shops in the city center as well as policies to force Palestinians to leave their homes in the Old City and around Al Ibrahimi Mosque. Osaily also spoke in detail about aggressions and violations committed by occupation authorities and settlers alike, which go against all Human Rights conventions and laws.
The delegation then toured the Old City and Al Ibrahimi Mosque. After an exchange of gifts, Ms. Mandroux regretted conditions in Hebron and promised to convey what she saw to her government and people. She also hoped to see peace and human justice prevail and occupation end, enabling Palestinians to retrieve their rights and to end the suffering in the Old City.
On a different vein, Osaily met with Samer Abou Jabara, Director of Political Affairs at the UN Special Coordinator Office, and Adam Hinds, Regional Affairs Officer, with a view to getting better acquainted with conditions in Hebron and examining the situation in the Old City caused by Israeli occupation authorities and settlers.
Osaily explained to the delegation the suffering of Palestinians in Tal al Rumaidah, underlining the case of Ms. Hana’ Abou Haikal, who continues to live in the area despite aggressions by settlers and security complications posed by the army against her free movement. He called on the delegation to convey this case to the Special Coordinator and to intervene in order to ease the suffering of Ms. Abou Haikal and her neighbors. Osaily also called for an end to provocative visits by students from settlements to Al Ibrahimi Mosque as well as to the falsification of history by settler organizations under the auspices of the Israeli government.
Speaking about problems facing Hebron Municipality, Osaily said that one such problem is the limited area of land available in the city and the fact that most of this land is located in “C” areas which hinders the execution of many vital projects. “A solution must be found to this situation and Palestinians must be given administrative and security control over their land”, he added.
Abu Jabarah said that this visit aims at getting better acquainted with prevailing conditions and at conveying them to the Special Coordinator so that he is informed of the situation in Hebron and of problems facing its inhabitants.