- Published on Wednesday, 11 April 2012 11:36
York: The Press
THE Israeli government will be challenged by a group of visitors from York who want access to friends living in part of the occupied West Bank area of Palestine.
Terry Gallogly, Mary Watson and Carol Pearman will be among visitors flying into Israel as part of the Welcome to Palestine campaign.
The three said they are determined to tell the Israeli authorities the reason for their visit and risking being turned away, rather than covering up the truth.
Last year Israel deported 150 activists, including British citizens, who were part of a sister initiative to Welcome to Palestine.
Mrs Watson said: “We have visited Palestine before, but you have to lie and say that you are visiting Israel or that you are part of a religious tour if you want to enter the Occupied Territories and visit friends there.
“If you’re honest about wanting to visit Palestinian people then there’s a good chance you’ll be stopped and deported.”
On arrival in the Middle East on Saturday, the three say they, along with other participants in the action, will declare their intention to visit Palestine to attend events in Bethlehem.
They said they hope their honesty will help “bring to an end the isolation of Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories”.
“The Israeli government tries to make out that anyone wanting to visit Palestinian friends is a security risk, but that’s nonsense,” said Carol Pearman, 69, of Hull Road.
“We just want to visit friends who are kept like prisoners under this illegal occupation. Even prisoners are allowed visitors.
“I would like to be able to continue, but I think there’s a good chance we will be prevented from getting through.
“We aren’t doing anything we are not supposed to do.”
The Welcome to Palestine initiative is backed By York Central MP Hugh Bayley.
He said: “I certainly support the right of my constituents and other British citizens to travel peacefully and openly to Palestine”.