PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi addressed the Nordic Jerusalem Conference in Sweden on Friday, stressing the importance of Jerusalem for Palestinians.
Jerusalem is a symbol of peace, but it is surrounded by military checkpoints, a separation wall, and settlements, Ashrawi said.
The city is part and parcel of Palestinian history and culture, she added.
Ashrawi also asserted that diversity is a key factor in Palestinian society.
The idea of Palestine consisting of “one religion or one color or one sect … is impossible because the history and culture of Palestine has always reflected cultural and religious diversity,” the PLO official said.
Palestinian Ambassador to Sweden Hala Fariz also addressed the conference, saying Israel was attempting to change the demographic makeup of Jerusalem and the West Bank by demolishing homes and displacing Palestinians in order to build settlements.
Palestinian lawmaker Abdullah Abdullah attended the conference, along with a delegation from the PLO’s Department of Expatriates Affairs. Delegations from several European and Arab countries also attended the meeting.
The two-day conference, held May 9 and 10 in the Swedish Parliament building in Stockholm, was organized by the Swedish-Palestinian Parliamentary Commission and the Jerusalem Committee in Sweden.
Israel captured East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.
It considers all of Jerusalem its “eternal, undivided” capital and does not see construction in the eastern sector as settlement building.
Some 350,000 Jewish settlers live in West Bank settlements, in addition to another 200,000 Israelis settled in occupied and annexed East Jerusalem.
The international community views all settlement building on occupied Palestinian land as illegal.
(Ma’an – www.maannews.net)