Rotterdam – 15 April 2017
Thousands of Palestinians and pro-Palestine activists from across the European continent attended the 15th Palestinians in Europe Conference which kicked off on Saturday, April 15, in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, under the slogan “100 years on, a victorious nation and unbreakable determination.”
Speaking at the opening speech, Amin Abu Rashid, the conference's general coordinator, welcomed the audience and stressed that the conference aims to send a message of unity to and from the Palestinian Diaspora overseas.
Speaking on behalf of the Palestinians in Europe Conference group, Mazn Kahil, said the Palestinian people will spare no effort to restore their right of return to their motherland—Palestine.
Referring to the Balfour Declaration, Mr. Kahil said that the pledge has perished and that the Palestinian people shall never forfeit a single inch of their native soil nor give up their inalienable rights.
“The Palestinians in Europe Conference comes in response to the crimes committed by the Israeli occupation against the Palestinian people nationwide and overseas,” stated Mr. Kahil, adding that the Palestinians have firmly rebuffed any attempts to turn their right of return and their homeland into bargaining chips.
He further pointed out the key role that should be played by the Palestinian Liberation Organization in speaking up for the Palestinian people and seriously working on ceasing security cooperation with the Israeli occupation and lifting the Israeli blockade on Gaza.
Addressing the masses through a televised speech, head of the Palestinian National Initiative, Dr. Mustafa AlBarghouti, reiterated Palestinians commitment to their legitimate rights and called for healing the national rift and joining forces so as to put into effect the terms of the deals struck at the National Council meeting in Beirut and set the stage for presidential and legislative elections.
Dr. AlBarghouti underlined the eligibility of the Palestinian Diaspora to cast their votes in the National Council ballots and their active role in the anti-occupation struggle.
He further called for propping up support for the Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli jails and lifting the decade-long Israeli siege on Gaza.
For his part, deputy secretary-general of the Palestinians Abroad Conference, Hesham Abu Mahfoudh, said the Palestinian people will neither concede defeat nor give up their right of return.
He briefed the audience on the output of the Palestinians Abroad Conference held last February in Istanbul, vowing that the organizers will embark on another set of projects to refresh the role of the Palestinians overseas and raise awareness about the racist Israeli practices perpetrated against the Palestinian people.
Secretary-general of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe, Samir AlFaleh, said the 15th Palestinians in Europe Conference is a sign of the eternal legitimacy of the Palestinian cause and of the right of return, urging the international community to assume its role vis-à-vis the cause and push for an apology over the notorious Balfour pledge.
PalMed Europe chairman, Dr. Mondher Rajab, gave a thorough account of the events hosted by the group in an attempt to boost the integration of the Palestinian medics in the European community.
Head of the Palestinian Women’s Association in Europe, Ms. Iman Abu Shweima, sounded the alarm over the challenges faced by Palestinian women at home and abroad.
Dr. Ramy Abdou, chair of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, tackled the tragic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip due to the tough Israeli blockade and the ongoing efforts made by Euro-Med to document the Israeli violations across the occupied Palestinian territories.
The 15th Palestinians in Europe Conference is the by-product of joint efforts by the Palestinians in Europe Conference group, the Palestinian Return Centre, the Palestinian Community in the Netherlands, and the Palestinian House in the Netherlands.
The conference coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, in which the British government pledged its support for a Jewish national home in Palestine, at the expense of the Palestinian indigenous population.
The conference addressed a number of issues including the socio-political situation in Palestine, the role played by the Palestinian Diaspora overseas, and Palestinians’ right of return to their motherland.