MCA Circle of Palestine, a mission of citizen diplomacy
Between 18 and 23 July, the MCA Foundation organized a mission of citizen diplomacy to Palestine, made up of the president of the MCA Foundation, Vicent Garces and the members of the Advisory Council of the same, the specialized journalist in the Middle East, Lola Bañon, and the Palestinian diplomat, Hassan Balawi, with the aim of forming the MCA Circle of Palestine. The mission that took place between the cities of Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah, was accompanied by the Palestinian coordinator, Dima Arqan, a member of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Palestine.
The first stop took place in the city of Hebron. On 7 July, UNESCO decided to include the Old City of Hebron and the Ibrahim Mosque, a place revered by the Jews as the “Tomb of the Patriarchs”, as a World Heritage Site of Palestine. One of the institutions that worked for the UNESCO nomination is the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee. Within its mission of citizen diplomacy to Palestine, the MCA Foundation held a meeting with the Committee’s Director, Emad Hamdan and his team, who explained to us in Hebron the importance of this designation for the preservation of the historical and identity heritage of the Old City.
Bethlehem is a city where approximately 200,000 Palestinians live, 38% of them are Christians. Millennial city that every year for Christmas becomes the global epicenter but whose inhabitants during the rest of the year live a very different reality, with unemployment around 20%, aggravated by the harsh Israeli restrictions of movement and commerce. Numerous non-governmental organizations are based here. The MCA Foundation met in Bethlehem with part of the members of the MCA Circle of Palestine.
Ramallah is a city with a strong cultural and associative network. Visiting the museum of the great poet Mahmud Darwish is to discover the rich cultural history of the Palestinian people, as well as share the projects of the musical associations, legacy of the mediterranean musical tradition. The MCA Foundation met there with members of the MCA Circle of Palestine in which it was agreed that the provisional headquarters of the circle be established in Ramallah.
Visiting the Yasir Arafat Foundation in Ramallah also involves a tour trough the recent history of the Palestinian people. This museum is open in 2016, and connects with the Muqataa presidency palace in which Arafat was besieged for more than 34 months. The members of the MCA Foundation visited the different rooms of the institution by its director, Ahmed Sohob, minister in Arafat’s time, who explained that the purpose of the Museum is to maintain the memory of the struggle for the right to a Palestinian State.
After touring Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah, the MCA Foundation celebrates this mission of citizen diplomacy culminating in the formation of the MCA circle of Palestine, which will be based in Jerusalem and provisionally in Ramallah. The MCAF citizen network has grown notably throughout this year, being currently integrated by 27 citizen Circles that cover practically all the coastal countries. The MCA Foundation is planning the next constitution of the Tel Aviv / Israel MCA Circle, facilitating the connection and dialogue between the citizens of the region, always working for the emergence of a community of Mediterranean peoples in peace and development.