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Jerusalem, Tuesday 22nd September

Dear everybody,
pal15For me, everything is going well here. I am enjoying the diversity of the programme. But for East Jerusalemites things don’t look so good. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu seems to have managed to get East Jerusalem off Obama’s settlement freeze agenda. Not that East Jerusalemites really believed it anyway. Years of hearing about peace while they watch their half of the Holy City gradually being swallowed up have made them sceptical. As some commentator put it recently ‘the world discusses how to share the pizza, while Israel eats it.’

However, settlement expansion is still a priority concern for our team because behind the statistics we see real human tragedies. For example, the Hannoun and Ghawi families I spoke of in my last journal are still on the street in Sheikh Jarrah in front of the houses from which they were evicted two months ago. They have a board on the olive tree, like a cricket scoreboard. Today is Day 54. (Check out the Hannouns’ website www.standupforJerusalem.org)

It may only be a street camp, but they get some pretty heavyweight visitors: religious leaders, diplomats, politicians of all shades, women’s delegations, and the other day, lo and behold, came The Elders! Unfortunately, it was a bit hush-hush for security reasons and by the time we rushed down there, Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson, et al. had been whisked away. But it gave the families’ a boost, and Mr Hannoun’s daughter says she’ll never wash her hand again.

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