- Title: WEST BANK: 'Free Palestine' message appears on Israeli banknotes
- Date: 24th March 2011
- Summary: RAMALLAH, WEST BANK (RECENT) (REUTERS) ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF 'FREE PALESTINE' FACEBOOK GROUP, IMAD ABUSUMAYAH, IN HIS OFFICE VARIOUS OF ABUSUMAYAH WRITING 'FREE PALESTINE' ON BANKNOTES 20 SHEKEL BANKNOTE WITH 'FREE PALESTINE' WRITTEN ON IT (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) IMAD ABUSUMAYAH, 'FREE PALESTINE' CAMPAIGN FOUNDER, SAYING: "The main aim of this campaign is to send a message to the Israeli people and the Israeli government that the Palestinian people need Palestine to be free. We are using the idea of money because it is the easiest way to send this message to the Israelis."
- Embargoed: 8th April 2011 13:00
- Location: West bank, West bank
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: International Relations,Quirky,Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVADR0RL8X3O7XKTMX8ZTADFJTLK
- Story Text: While youths across the Middle East have taken to the streets to make their voices heard, Palestinians campaigning for an independent state have found a new and innovative way of protesting: they are writing their message on Israeli banknotes.
Through the social networking site, Facebook, campaign leaders are calling on people to write the words 'Free Palestine' on Israeli notes.
"The main aim of this campaign is to send a message to the Israeli people and the Israeli government that the Palestinian people need Palestine to be free. We are using the idea of money because it is the easiest way to send this message to the Israelis," explained campaign co-founder Imad Abusumayah from his Ramallah office.
The new Israeli shekel is the standard currency in the West Bank and Gaza.
The campaign group's Facebook page shows Israeli banknotes as well as banknotes from around the world with the words 'Free Palestine' written on them.
Campaign co-founder, Salaheddin Barghouthi, said the idea had quickly spread from the shekel to other currencies.
"The idea of the campaign was to transfer this idea to the largest possible number of people both inside and outside Palestine. It started with the Israeli shekel, writing on the shekel, then it quickly moved on to the world, where it was written on all sorts of currencies. Other people took part with us, people from Turkey, Germany, America, from many other countries, they took part in this campaign to write 'Free Palestine' on banknotes," he said.
The popular social networking website has been used to mobilise protesters around the Middle East during a recent spate of uprisings in the region.
However, Palestinian banking authorities are worried that this particular campaign may backfire, harming the Palestinian economy.
"The side which exports the currency makes the decision as to whether to consider any alterations to the appearance of the currency. Maybe they would consider it as being fake currency. Also, it's possible that the Israeli banks, when we send the excess shekels to the Israeli banks, they will hold on to this money and perhaps they will consider it as being fake money and destroy it, and this will affect the Palestinian economy because it won't be registered as belonging to the Palestinians," said the head of the Association of Banks of Palestine, Nabeel Abu Diab.
After over 40 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Palestinian economy is tied to Israel's.
The shared currency has been used in the past for political purposes: after Hamas seized control of Gaza, Israel imposed restrictions on cash transfers from the occupied West Bank to the coastal territory. Gaza's banks were forced to close their doors, saying they did not have enough bank notes in their vaults to operate normally.
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