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Bethlehem mayor: Boycott Israel until we get state
Published Thursday 15/12/2011 (updated) 16/12/2011 15:10
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Mayor of Bethlehem Victor
Batarseh delivers his annual
Christmas address in the West
Bank city on Dec. 15, 2011.
(MaanImages/Wajdi Jafari)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The mayor of Bethlehem said Thursday after his annual Christmas address that the international community should boycott Israel until it accepts Palestinian aspirations for independence.

"We have a right to self-determination," Victor Batarseh told reporters in Bethlehem.

"We are peaceful people. We want peace," he said after announcing the start of Christmas festivities. But it must be a "just and legal peace based on UN resolutions," and the "only way Israel will agree to peace is if it is forced.

"I don't mean violently, I mean it should be boycotted. Boycott Israel culturally, educationally, in sports and in trade," Batarseh continued, "and Israel will make peace in six months. Believe me."

He compared Palestine's situation to apartheid South Africa, before it abandoned racial discrimination in the face of a global boycott, sanctions and divestment movement and local resistance.

The mayor's position differs from the official policy of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, which calls for boycotting settlements in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem but not Israel.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other leftists frequently call for Israel to be boycotted. Batarseh was elected to office in 2005 on a list of PFLP-affiliated candidates.

He says the government of Israel makes it clearer as time goes by that peace can only be achieved through pressure. "Mr Netanyahu and his government are still building settlements," he said.

This is despite the PLO agreeing "to accept a viable Palestinian state on just 22 percent of our historic homeland. The extremist and right-wing government of Israel won't even give us that," he said.

"They act as if this is their land and we are the foreigners."

On the topic of UNESCO, he said Palestine's admission to the UN cultural body had spread "joy and merriment" in Bethlehem "because we achieved one more step toward joining the United Nations."

"I call, from here, on all leaders around the world to use their brains" rather than allow the US and certain European countries to block Palestine's admission to the UN, he said.
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1 ) AKeenReader / UK
15/12/2011 22:31
Well said! I am sure that time is nearer then you think when majority of the world will start to boycott Israeli profucts all over the world except Israeli cronie the US. Let us all remember South Africa and what happened there.

2 ) Christian / US
15/12/2011 23:05
Excellent Christmas message Mr. Batarseh. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU, TO BETHLEHEM AND TO ALL PALESTINIANS CHRISTIANS AND NOT CHRISTIANS.

3 ) Amira / Canada
16/12/2011 01:26
I am already boycotting Israeli and anything kosher and I am proud of it.

4 ) Eyal Feldman / USA
16/12/2011 01:48
This article is such garbage. Arabs have rights of citizenship that black south africans did not have under SA Apratheid. Lame anti-Israel, anti-Semitic propaganda

5 ) Christine / Irland
16/12/2011 01:55
I don't think the Pope and true Christians around the world would be proud of this Victor Batarseh mayor of Bethlehem. He is going against the Pope's view of peace for all but this mayor is a disgrace to Jesus lover.

6 ) EE / UK
16/12/2011 02:01
What a smart guy Bethlehem mayor. Palestinians can start from boycotting Israeli produced electricity, Israeli supplied water and fuel, Israeli ground, see and air transportation, Israeli currency. It would be really smart Palestinian move compatible with previous smart palestinians moves like rejection UN partition plan or starting second intifada. And I like mayor’s reference to ” just and legal peace based on UN resolutions". Following mayor’s logic, the peace can be “legal” and “illegal”?

7 ) liz / uk
16/12/2011 02:26
boycott for me is going fine but lots more information is needed there must be a way to get it out there

8 ) silver / phil
16/12/2011 03:06
palestine achieve its independence from israel not by negotiation but by forcing israel to give pal independence. boycott and sanction of israel are needed to force israhell

9 ) Sven / SwedenT
16/12/2011 03:37
To number 4; what arabs are you talking about??? Maybe Palestinians in Israel?? Well, this mayor is a Palestinian from Bethlemhem in the West Bank, which means he is NOT an Israeli citizen and is living under occupation, with barely no rights or self determination. His land can be stolen at any time, he is not able to travel without restrictions, he may face prison for political activity and so on. So YES, I would compare it to the Apartheid of South Africa.

10 ) Business / Israel
16/12/2011 03:42
Money talks and bulls--- walks. The Palestinians prefer to invest their money in Israeli companies. Not in Egypt or Syria or even"Palestine".

11 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
16/12/2011 04:18
""They act as if this is their land and we are the foreigners." THAT is the BEST damn statement I ever heard come from the mouth of a Palestinian. ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY DAMN RIGHT !!! ... Also, " ... 22% of our historic homeland" ??? ... N-o-o-o-o-o-o, I D-O-O-O-O-N'T think so !!! ... ALL of historic Palestinian (Ottoman Empire Palestine) was on BOTH SIDES of the Jordan River. That means even if we annexed ALL of Gaza and the W. Bank, Jordan/Palestine would STILL be the larger area.

12 ) @ the Bethlehem mayor / USA
16/12/2011 04:57
At least Boycott Israel yourself first.

13 ) Colin Wright / USA
16/12/2011 09:07
To Eyal Feldman #4 'This article is such garbage. Arabs have rights of citizenship that black south africans did not have under SA Apratheid.' Just the reverse is true. For example, the 'bantustans' that South Africa sought to set up but that were denounced by the international community are more or less equivalent to the Palestinian state that the PA seeks but that Israel won't permit. At the moment, the Palestinians are begging to be allowed a Transkei.

14 ) John / USA
16/12/2011 09:56
Palestinians must boycott Israel and Zionist owned companies who support Israel before we ask the international community to do the same. Yes, some products we are forced to buy because there is no alternative. But in many cases Palestinians have a choice and choose Israeli products. It is time for us to change our thinking. It is time to kick the inferiority complex and support Palestinian made products whenever possible.

15 ) John / USA
16/12/2011 10:09
6 ) EE / UK: So your trying to be smart by saying Palestinians should boycott electricity and water coming from Israel? I wonder if the Jews of the concentration camps should have boycotted the food provided by the Nazis? Your argument is disgusting.

16 ) Colin Wright / USA
16/12/2011 10:15
To Yehuda Solomon #11 '...That means even if we annexed ALL of Gaza and the W. Bank, Jordan/Palestine would STILL be the larger area.' Of course, you have no valid claim to any of it. Then too, the 'larger area' you would offer is mostly sterile desert. But then, that's what you want, of course. A verbal formula that would allow you to literally drive the Palestinians into the desert.

17 ) Raymond / USA
17/12/2011 00:11
Zionists never had a valid claim to but 5.8% of Palestine. Indigenous peoples of Palestine, yes, Palestinians, they owned 90% of the land&after WWII the 2 year old UN decided to give to the Zionists 55% of the land equating Jews with Zionists and without asking the Palestinians the UN decided to a partitioning of Palestine as a compensation to the Jews for the Holocaust. Ben-Gurion's whole plan was to take Palestine&expel all of the Arabs. In 1948, in 6 months 800,000 Palestinians were expelled.

18 ) Boseefus / US
18/12/2011 16:42
I welcome any suggested attempt to make peace without violence against God's beautiful creations. Please pray for a solution to these conflicts. It appears progress is being made.

19 ) Smilodon / Canada
19/12/2011 12:18
I already boycott Israeli goods/ I've complained and had Sharon fruit removed from our grocery, and replaced with locally grown persimmons.

20 ) Obserwator / USA
19/12/2011 17:16
The people in this Country are too ignorant to see how they're being used and abused by AIPAc and their political cronies who think Israel first(as seen in political debates) - and USA second. The wars for Israel are bankrupting this nation nobody seems to care...

21 ) Zion Lover / US
19/12/2011 20:22
US Congress must pass "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) so that terrorists like this mayor do not pollute the minds of US citizens with their antisemite propaganda. Zion will fight to the last drop of US blood, and any US citizen who challenges that is antisemite and must be deported to Guantanamo as terrorist. Long live Zion!

22 ) notinmyname / UK
19/12/2011 22:03
Well said. It is about time people realised that Israeli zionist religious fanatics are attacking the values, symbols and ins some cases the actual persons of Palestinian Christians and Muslims, not to say Israeli Jewish women too.

23 ) Offenbach / U.S.A.
19/12/2011 23:33
God Bless you and the Palestinian people! The Congress here in the USA is "Israeli occupied territory," but many Americans - more and more every day, in fact - are working hard to change that. Keep the faith. Don't give up your aspirations!

24 ) John / USA
19/12/2011 23:44
As an American I wish to apologize to Mr. Batarseh and the Palestinian people for the words and actions of US political leadership in regards to Palestine. In particular the hateful and untrue but politically expedient remark by Presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, that the Palestinians are "an invented" people. Many Americans have, through a massive propaganda campaign, adopted this erroneous idea, but not all Americans. May 2012 bring peace to Palestine and Israel.

25 ) musings / USA
20/12/2011 03:08
No. 21 has got to be kidding. Often one hears that there are no Christians left in the Palestinian territories - yet here one is mayor. You cannot have apartheid and peace, nor the muscling in of settlements and call it peace. If there must be territories let them be fairly treated by Israel. There may be violence - but in American cities there is also violence, yet we do not wall in those in violent neighborhoods because that would unjustly punish people on the basis of race.

26 ) Irene / USA
20/12/2011 05:50
Zion Lover, you are the cyber terrorist, not the Bethlehem major. Let there be peace in Bethlehem this Christmas. When we sing O little town of Bethlehem How still we see thee lie Above thy deep and dreamless sleep The silent stars go by Yet in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting Light The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee tonight We often forget that there is no peace in Palestine... And Bethlehem is besieged by the greedy Israeli settlers...

27 ) Sean / Israel
20/12/2011 07:08
Occasional bottle rocket fired from Palestine into an empty field, or fired by a collaborator to give Israel excuse to murder innocent Palestinians in taxis, has gotten Palestinians nowhere. Traitor Abbas and corrupt Fatah have helped Israel takes more land and destroy more Palestinian homes than anyone in history. Israel only understand language of force and unless there are several buses and trains blown up every day year round Israel will continue to murder Palestinian kids every day.
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