Preparations for Pope Benedict XVI to visit Aida Refugee Camp will move forward despite Israeli attempts to interfere in the planning, officials from the Palestinian Authority said Friday.
The PA issued a statement late Friday night echoing concerns over an Israel attempting to shield the pope and the international community from seeing the oppressive and discriminatory practices meted out on the Palestinians.
Israeli troops stormed Aida camp Wednesday and raided a meeting of the preparatory committee for the Papal visit.
Committee members were harassed and questioned then informed that because the camp is in Area C - i.e. under Israeli civil and military control - that organizers must get a special permit to hold celebrations for the pope.
The PA brushed aside the Israeli threat, saying preparations would continue unchanged.
Condemnations came from Bethlehem and Palestinian Legislative Council members immediately following the incident, and the PA made the official decision to stay the course after meetings during the weekend.
The PA also expressed concern over Israel’s decision to prevent the Christian community in Gaza from leaving the besieged strip to travel to Bethlehem and visit the Holy Father.
The West Bank government said it would hold Israel responsible for any roadblocks in the execution of the pope’s visit.
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