West Bank visit by German MPs Jürgen Trittin and Kerstin Müller
The Chairman of the Green’s parliamentary group, Jürgen Trittin, and the Green’s parliamentary spokesperson on foreign affairs, Kerstin Müller, visited the Palestinian Territories between March 12 and March 15, 2012. HBS Ramallah organized various meetings with Palestinian officials and civil society representatives.
On Monday, March 12, Kerstin Müller took a tour through Silwan , guided by Jawad Siyam, director of Wadi Hilweh Information Center. Silwan is a Palestinian neighborhood of Jerusalem which has been a target for numerous house demolitions to make room for the touristic and archeological project “City of David”. This claim to land in combination with the presence of around 200 Israeli settlers has grave implications for the daily life of the Palestinian citizens of Silwan. Most recently, the Wadi Hilweh Cultural Center was demolished, an act denounced by the German Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Dirk Niebel.
Before visiting Jerusalem’s Old City, Kerstin Müller got together with Israeli and Palestinian non-violent activists who presented their views on Palestinian non-violent resistance strategies and discussed their assessments on the risks and merits of international aid.
On Wednesday, March 14, Jürgen Trittin and Kerstin Müller met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to discuss the general political situation. While his ultimate plan to establish a Palestinian state through the building of state institutions did not succeed, Fayyad pointed to the achievements which have been made primarily in the economical field.
In the afternoon, the delegates engaged in a round table discussion with Palestinian non-violent activists Fadi Quran and Bassel Araj, who introduced them to the values and strategies of the Palestinian youth movement. The movement gained momentum in the course of the Arab upris-ings during the last year and bases itself on values like freedom, justice and human dignity. At this time, 36 Palestinian villages throughout the West Bank engage in regular protests against land ex-propriation, settlement expansion and the separation wall, in which youth activists play a crucial role. Fadi Quran has been arrested lately by the Israeli Defense Forces while he was taking part in a non-violent demonstration in Hebron, calling for the opening of Al-Shuhada Street. Videos showing his violent arrest caused broad criticism and the story was covered by several international news outlets.
The day was concluded by a dinner with members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), covering different factions. While the German Parliamentarians talked about the Green perspective on the regional changes in the Middle East, the PLC members expressed their grave concern on the stalemate in Palestine and the growing sense that the two-state solution becomes unfeasible.
On their last day in the Palestinian territories, Jürgen Trittin and Kerstin Müller visited Shaab al-Buttum, one of the communities in the South Hebron Hills which have been equipped with re-newable energy installations by Comet-ME , a joint Israeli-Palestinian initiative. The project was partially funded by the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs which contributed ca. 600,000 €. Since the start of the project, a hybrid system (using both wind and solar energy) has been installed in ten communities, providing ca. 800 people with a basic electricity supply. The project has been widely featured in the international news after the Israeli Civil Administration (the Israeli governing body operating the occupied West Bank) targeted the solar and wind power systems in six of the communities with demolition orders .
For further information on the sustainable energy project, we recommend this radio report by Joseph Dana for Monocle which features statements by Kerstin Müller and Dr. René Wildangel.