A wedding singer from a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip has become the first Palestinian to win Arab Idol, in a contest which has captivated millions of viewers, including President Mahmoud Abbas.
Mohammed Assaf, 23, beat finalists Egyptian Ahmed Jamal and a Syrian woman, Farah Youssef on Saturday in the singing competition broadcast by the Saudi-owned MBC Group.
Viewers from across the region voted for their favourites.
Shortly after winning, the young singer saluted the people of Palestine, “who have been suffering under occupation for decades.”
President Mahmoud Abbas had earlier spoken to Assaf by phone and instructed Palestinian embassies abroad to urge expatriates to vote for him, calling the singer “the pride of the Palestinian and Arab nation”.
Immediately after his win, Assaf was named Youth Ambassador for UNRWA, the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees, and named Palestinian goodwill ambassador by President Mahmud Abbas and reportedly gave him a diplomatic passport.
Across Gaza, an impoverished territory ruled by Hamas, people gathered around TV screens at home, in coffee shops and in seaside cafes to watch Assaf perform for the last time.
The Bank of Palestine threw money into a campaign to see him win, promising to match up to 350,000 texted votes – each one costs 40 cents – for Assaf.
Available for download is the draft resolution, in Arabic and English, to accord to Palestine an observer state status in the United Nations system. This draft has been circulated to member states at the UN but not yet officially tabled. It is believed the resolution will be put for a vote at the UN General Assembly later this month.
We sincerely hope Australia, which has played a major role in 1947 and 1948 for the creation of Israel in Palestine, resulting in the ethnic cleansing and destruction of Palestine, will take this opportunity to be on the right side of history and live up to the trust the international community has given it recently in winning a seat on the United Nations Security Council, to be a good global citizen, to provide leadership for a better world and to shoulder its historic and moral responsibility towards the Palestinian people by supporting the resolution and playing an active role at the UN.
Source: Ali Kazak
APAN (Australian Palestinian Advocacy Network) have established an online petition at http://www.communityrun.org/p/YES-Palestine . The petition text is the short italicised paragraph at the start, with the rest an explanatory note for potential signatories. Please sign yourself, and then circulate this link widely amongst your networks. If you would like a paper based petition, click here to download printable version, with signatures to be received by 12th November.
We would also encourage everyone to also write to the Foreign Minister directly about this. Letters always carry much more weight than signatures on a petition, and do not need to be long or detailed. Letters can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
APAN will seek to meet with Senator Carr in mid-November to present the petition and discuss the case for voting YES. We will also be contacting politicians who have expressed support for Palestine to do whatever they can to support this. If you have any relationships with politicians, we’d ask you to make contact with them and ask them to also act in support.
The Palestinian leadership has started a process to seek a status as a non-member state in the United Nation General Assembly (UNGA). It is expected to ask the GA members to vote on a draft resolution at the last week of November, may be at the upcoming anniversary of the UN Solidarity Day with the Palestinian People on November 29.
The anticipated draft resolution will be very simple illustrating the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination including their right to establish an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.
How are Palestinians living under the Occupation in the West Bank and Gaza?
Academic, writer and commentator Professor Peter Slezak took a tour of the Palestinian Occupied Territories earlier this year and met with a range of Palestinians and Israelis including members of the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence, who take tours around hotspots in the West Bank and Gaza.
His journey, as the son of holocaust survivors, was confronting and harrowing as he witnessed what this Occupation means in terms of the human rights abuses that occur routinely, and the annexation of Palestinian lands to large Israeli settlements and to the 700 km long Separation Wall.
A podcast is available on the ABC website, use the link below
Palestinians win endangered world heritage status for Bethlehem church
US ambassador condemns Unesco decision to grant protection for Church of the Nativity on site seen as Jesus’s birthplace
Unesco has granted endangered world heritage status and funding for repairs to the site seen as Jesus’s birthplace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, despite objections from the US and Israel.
Israeli officials have questioned the need for Bethlehem to be registered as an endangered site and see Palestinian moves at Unesco and other UN bodies as an effort to embarrass Israel on the world stage.
Thirteen out of 21 members of the world heritage committee voted in favour of the move at a meeting in St Petersburg. The decision was met by a standing ovation. Six members voted against and two abstained.
The fourth-century Church of the Nativity, built over a grotto where Christian tradition says Jesus was born, needs repairs but the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, is short of funds. Read more