The Bil’in conference on popular resistance ends with anti wall nonviolent protest

The Third international conference on popular resistance which was held in Bil’in for the third year in a row, was concluded on Friday with a press conference followed by a nonviolent protest against the wall.Around midday, the participants of the conference went to watch a football match between the villagers of Bil’in and the international participants of the conference near the wall. The football game, which coincided with the start of the European Championship tournament, was, according to Abdullah Abu Rahme, the conference moderator, a message to the world that Israel, also denies the Palestinians the right to play. Soon after the match started, Israeli troops showered the players with a number of tear gas bombs which forced them to stop the match. A number of the players and the spectators were treated for gas inhalation.

Following the football game, the conveners, including a number of Palestinian Parliamentarians, marched towards the construction site of the wall and were faced by Israeli army violence as they arrived at the gate of the wall. Israeli troops operating there fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at the demonstrators. Dozens were treated for gas inhalation and for bruises resulting from being hit with the rubber-coated steel bullets, including Louisa Morgantini, Deputy Speaker of the EU Parliament and the Irish Nobel Laureate and activist Mairead Maguire, in addition to Julio Tuscano, an Italian Judge. Abdullah and Nizar Abu Rahma from Bil’in were also lightly wounded. This is the second time Maguire is wounded in Bil’in’s protests. In 2007 she received a rubber-coated steel bullet to her leg as she participated in the protest that followed the second international conference in the village.

This years conference, which was organized by the Popular Committee against the wall and Settlement in Bil’in, started on Wednesday with more than 300 Palestinians, internationals and Israelis participating.

The Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad spoke at the opening session followed by Louisa Morgantini, vice president of the European Parliament.

Fayyad called on the European Union not to upgrade relations with Israel until it adheres to its peace process obligations.

He also stressed that the Israeli settlement policy is one of the major impediments for peace.

In her speech, Morgantini, said that the Parliament must work to put an end to the occupation and lift the blockade, and revive the agreements signed between the two sides. She emphasized the importance of adhering to international resolutions, especially those relating to Jerusalem as a shared capital for both peoples. She also addressed the tragic situation in Gaza and demanded an end to the siege.

Meanwhile, Maguire, accused Israel of denying the Palestinian people their basic right, and stated that Israeli policies lead to the perpetuation of a state based on racism and the creation of facts on the ground.

The Bil’in conference, which coincided with the 41 anniversary of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, reflects a genuine Palestinian interest in boosting the nonviolent struggle in Palestine as a way to end the Israeli occupation and achieve the national rights of the people of Palestine.

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George Rishmawi

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