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Media Release
12 April 2012

Israeli police and secret service prepare to stop British travellers invited to Occupied Palestine

On Sunday 15th April British nationals will be among almost 1,300 internationals flying into Tel Aviv airport as part of Welcome to Palestine 2012. Organisers explain that participants of 'Welcome to Palestine' will openly declare at Israeli passport control that their destination is Bethlehem, that they have no choice but to transit Tel Aviv Airport to reach the occupied West Bank and that they intend to pass though the airport as unobtrusively as possible. Organisers say they will contribute to the construction of an international school in Bethelehem, a museum about the history of Palestinian refugees, and take part in "political discussions with Palestinian groups on how to end Israel's illegal occupation and build for the forthcoming World Social Forum-Free Palestine in Brazil in October".

Welcome to Palestine 2012 is endorsed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and is a response to an invitation from over 25 Palestinian organisations including the Right to Enter Campaign. The Mayor of Bethlehem, Dr Victor Batarseh, has welcomed participants and declared the support of the Bethlehem Municipality. UK Palestinian Ambassador Manuel Hassassian has urged Members of Parliament to "support the right of the people of the occupied Palestinian Territories to receive visitors who present themselves peacefully at Tel Aviv Airport and declare their wish to proceed to Palestine".

Israel government Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch has called the visit as a "provocation" and said authorities will deploy hundreds of police at Tel Aviv airport on Sunday. Israeli secret service have been interrogating Israeli activists who are supportive of the 'Welcome to Palestine' initiative, in a move declared illegal by lawyer Gaby Lasky who said that "the summons is illegal and outside the Shin Bet's authority. Under the guise of a 'friendly conversation' the Shin Bet is trying to deter people from taking part in legal activity with Palestinians." The Israeli government has also warned airlines that they must prevent boarding to a 'blacklist' of passengers.

One of the organisers of the UK delegation responding to the allegations of criminality, said "it has always been Zionist policy to isolate the Palestinian people from international links while the process of dispossession is carried out. Uttering the word 'Palestine' in answer to official questions at Tel Aviv Airport passport control will be treated as a crime on Sunday".

British participants will depart from different parts of the UK on Sunday.

END

Notes to Editor:

1. Welcome to Palesetine 2012

Contact details for updates on UK and US participants:

Sofiah MacLeod

00 44 (0) 131 620 0052

00 44 (0) 7931200361

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Welcome-to-Palestine-2012-English/310199145661990?sk=wall

Twitter: @WtP2012uk

Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/WelcometoPalestine

2. Profiles and updates on UK & US participants will be available here on Sunday 15 April: www.welcometopalstine.info

3. Source of quote: "not to demonstrate at 'Ben Gurion' airport but to visit the West Bank, where we are expected to launch the construction of an international school, a museum about the history of Palestinian refugees, repairing wells damaged by settlers, and land reclamation"

http://www.welcometopalestine.info/index.php/2012-articles/21-message-from-welcome-to-palestine-2012-french-delegation

4. Appeal from the Palestinian Ambassador to Members of Parliament

http://www.welcometopalestine.info/index.php/18-wtp-2012/support/20-appeal-from-the-palestinian-ambassador-to-members-of-parliament

5. Call for participation

http://www.welcometopalestine.info/index.php/key-documents-wtp-2012/22-call-for-participation

6. Archbishop Tutu and others endorse Welcome to Palestine:

http://www.welcometopalestine.info/index.php/key-documents-wtp-2012/2-welcome-to-palestine-initiative-2012-english

http://www.welcometopalestine.info/index.php/wtp-2012-endorsements

7. World Social Forum: Free Palestine invitation to Welcome to Palestine participants

http://www.welcometopalestine.info/index.php/key-documents-wtp-2012/14-invitation-to-welcome-to-palestine-participants

8. The Mayor of Bethlehem sends message of support

http://www.welcometopalestine.info/index.php/support/17-the-mayor-of-bethlehem-sends-message-of-support

9. Israeli government response:

- Israel security forces gear up to deflect pro-Palestinian 'fly-in' protest, http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-security-forces-gear-up-to-deflect-pro-palestinian-fly-in-protest-1.423446

- Hundreds of police to await 'fly-in' activists at terminal, http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/hundreds-of-police-to-await-fly-in-activists-at-terminal-1.423877

- Shin Bet questions Israeli activists linked to upcoming 'fly-in' protest, http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/shin-bet-questions-israeli-activists-linked-to-upcoming-fly-in-protest-1.423871

- Israel warns airlines, deploys forces ahead of Sunday 'Flytilla' protest, http://www.timesofisrael.com/police-prepare-for-welcome-to-palestine-flying-protest-by-warning-airlines-and-deploying-forces/

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