Freedom of Movement (KARAMA Campaign)
KARAMA (which means 'dignity’ in Arabic) is a public and national campaign aimed at promoting the independence of Palestinians, alleviating their suffering while travelling within and outside of Palestine, and ensuring their freedom and dignity. On the 19th of April 2012, the KARAMA Campaign became an official registered Palestinian non-governmental organization under reference number RA-22787-HR of the Palestinian Authority. The Campaign is aware that the fundamental solution to the freedom of movement and travel for Palestinians is for the Israeli occupation to cease, and for Palestinians to achieve freedom and sovereignty over their borders, land, water, and air; towards which the Campaign likewise aspires. As a first phase the Campaign has focused on Palestinians’ right to travel to and from Jordan (via the Karameh Bridge in Jericho) with freedom and dignity, devoid of financial burdens. Exhaustive routine procedures must also be reduced and an immediate improvement must be made to existing travelling conditions. In this regard, the Campaign has raised demands to the relevant Jordanian and Israeli authorities, as well as the PA, concerning the following matters;
- Travel to and from Jordan in modern, adequate busses from Palestinian city centers to and from Jordanian city centers without humiliating treatment, redundant waits, and burdensome financial expenses.
- Free travel via private cars directly driving through crossing bridge.
- Opening of bridge 24 hours a day, with scheduled bus timings.
- Reclaiming PA jurisdiction as it was prior to 2002.
KARAMA’s advocacy targets in this regard include;
- Palestinian Authority: KARAMA addresses the Palestinian Authority in order to enhance the conditions on the Palestinian side, starting from Jericho reception stop. The President’s office has been very cooperative in this regard, with a special committee formed to follow-up on travel needs. Within a 6 month timeframe, many tangible changes have been made to travel conditions on the Palestinian side However, the Palestinian segment is just the beginning part of a costly journey in terms of the few kilometers traveled, services provided, and time taken.
- Jordanian Side: Knowing that Jordan is the sole exiting passageway for Palestinians residing in the West Bank to access the outside world, the KARAMA Campaign addresses the Jordanian authorities through the Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the Palestinian National Authority. Responses have been very limited and can be described as negative. The campaign issued a plea to King Abdullah II of Jordan via Jordanian newspapers but with no avail. The Campaign attempts to work now with The National Center for Human Rights in Amman, Jordan via it’s Palestinian counterpart, the Independent Commission for Human Rights in Palestine in achieving desired improvements on the Jordanian end.
- Israeli Side: The Campaign targeted the Israeli occupation authorities, considered as the most essential front, particularly PA presence at the bridge was terminated following the outbreak of the second Intifada. KARAMA has targeted pressure groups that can influence the Israeli authorities to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian travelers by shedding light on the real humanitarian needs of Palestinians. Such groups have included Israeli peace groups, Arab Knesset Members, as well as the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
In 2014 Being a focal point for the Campaign, JLAC has been active in a number of activities addressing the murder of Jordanian-Palestinian judge Raed Z’eiter while in route at the Karama border crossing (i.e. documentation and submission to various relevant bodies). The submissions sought to raise the urgent issues facing Palestinians in traveling across al-Karama border crossing, particularly in regards to the irreverence shown to Palestinian lives by Israeli forces. The Campaign served to shed light the difficulties faced by travelers in a documentary, which was produced in cooperation with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation- Palestine. The documentary was successfully screened in a series of events along with a media campaign. This resulted in the expansion of the Campaign’s scope of work, which is anticipated to grow further over the coming years. Furthermore, JLAC continued to undertake cases involving road closures by Israeli military orders in the West Bank. To this effect, JLAC was the first party to receive and publicize the list of roads re-opening through the successful legal pressure.