Last updated: 25 July, 2012

East Jerusalem concert nixed after claims of “normalisation”

The UN Middle East envoy announced on Wednesday the postponement of a concert planned for east Jerusalem, after Palestinian objections to the perceived act of “normalisation”.

The West-East Divan Orchestra, co-founded by late Palestinian academic Edward Said and Israeli-Argentine maestro Daniel Barenboim, was to hold a July 31 concert on the Mount of Olives.

But Robert Serry said that the planned concert, which “the United Nations was happy to present”, has been “postponed”.

The statement issued by Serry’s office said that “Noting the objections of some groups it was decided – with regret – not to proceed with present plans for the concert”.

Such events, in which Palestinians and Israelis take part, are “a kind of normalisation, at the same time Palestinian rights continue to be ignored”, as Rassem Ebidat, coordinator of the National and Civil Work Committee in east Jerusalem, told AFP.

“Instead of sponsoring a concert on the Mount of Olives, Serry should demand that Israel stop confiscating Palestinian lands and building settlements and bases on it,” said Ebihat, whose group wrote Serry to protest the concert.

The committee also accused the orchestra of aiming at “building normalisation bridges without acknowledging the Palestinian people’s right of self-determination and the right of return, and without the refusal of its (Israeli) members to serve in the Israeli army”.

But to Serry, the concert would “have sent a strong message that Palestinians must be able to experience their cultural rights and freedoms in the unique city of Jerusalem, which the United Nations believes must emerge as the open capital of two states, living side by side in peace and security”, his statement read.

“Mr. Serry is disappointed that the concert will not go ahead at this stage and that Palestinians in east Jerusalem will not have the opportunity to enjoy such a unique cultural offering in their city,” it added.