A Palestinian nation-building movement for the 21st Century has been born.
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Close to 700 Palestinians came together earlier this month in Bethlehem, the West Bank “city of new beginnings” in Palestine, to plan their own future.
Sponsored by The Center for Human Emergence Middle East, the event inaugurated the “Palestine 21” project which aims to empower Palestinian citizens to design their own state.
The convention was organized by Palestinian leaders inspired by the geopolitical work of Dr. Don Beck, the American founder of the Global Center for Human Emergence (CHE).
“For the political ‘Road Map’ involving Israel and Palestine to be successful, the ‘Palestinian Development Map’ must first be implemented,” Dr. Beck said at the event.
Palestinian participants traveled by bus from Jericho, Qalqyliah, Tulkarm , Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus and Jerusalem, spending long hours at checkpoints throughout the West Bank.
Elza Maalouf , the Arab-American CEO of CHE Middle East, opened the event, saying “’Palestine 21’ fits within our overall plan to support human and societal emergence in our region, and Palestinians, together with other Arabs, will lead the way.
“It is an honor and a deep source of happiness for me to partner in the Middle East with Dr. Beck, a world-renowned expert on human and societal emergence, “ Ms. Maalouf added. “His work was field-tested during the South African transition from Apartheid and will greatly benefit the transition to nationhood in Palestine.”
Nafiz Rifaee, the Palestinian leader who designed and organized the event with the help of a team of dedicated men and women, urged the audience to focus on the future of their children and the future of Palestine. “This all started when Dr. Beck asked us how were we going to spend the seven billion dollars coming from donor countries. Do we have a sustainable plan for development? Or will the financial aid follow the usual channels?” Mr. Rifaee recalled.
The walls of the convention room at the Shepherd Hotel in Bethlehem were plastered with large sheets of paper filled with the people’s personal ideas and aspirations for their beloved Palestine. Recommendations included the design of a First World public school system, world-class universities, an eco-sensitive transportation plan, universal health care, and representative government.
The full list of suggestions is being compiled in a booklet which will be presented to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, President George W. Bush, Special Envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair, and the United Nations.