Thousands of Israeli Arabs attend a demonstration to mark 'Land Day' in the town of Arrabe, near the coastal city of Haifa on March 30, 2011, as hundreds of people across Israel and Palestinian territories were holding a series of rallies marking 'Land Day,'
As events unfold in Arab world, West Bank youth yearns for its own revolution. Instead of toppling gov't, protesters demand national unity through cultural festival
Tareq Abu Salama sits at the heart of Bethlehem's Manger Sqaure, strumming the strings of his oud and singing protests songs against the Palestinian division and the Israeli occupation. A khaki-colored tent stands next to him, displaying a Palestinian flag and a sign calling for Palestinian unity. At the tent's entrance stands a mosaic board shaped like a Palestinian map; a large crack extends between Gaza and the West Bank.
In the West Bank, the uprisings rocking Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria are watched with yearning. While in those nations the protesters marched to the squares and took their future into their own hands, in Bethlehem, Ramallah and Nablus the process is stuck. A few thousand have taken to the streets so far, keeping the protests largely peaceful. A large-scale revolt is unlikely to break out here – although, if there is anything to be learned from recent events, it's that the future cannot be predicted.
The town centers in Ramallah and Bethlehem have been converted into the Palestinian 'Tahrir Squares' in recent days, drawing many youths thirsty for a revolution. Some arrived with a clear agenda, others hoped to find it there, and some were not even aware what the commotion is about. Their demands could be found on the large signs scattered about, written in Arabic, English, German and Hebrew: National union, release of prisoners, halt of the negotiations with Israel, reestablishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization, general elections, and a boycott of products from the settlements.
"More than anything, we want to bring an end to the occupation, which is why we need unity," says Abu Salama. "We need one government, united in the battle against the occupation.
"We're not talking about 1967 borders, we're talking about the entire Palestine," he explains.
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