Mohammed Assaf, the 23-year-old wedding singer who won the "Arab Idol"
singing contest, is expected to move from Gaza
to the West Bank in order to further his musical career.
Major-General Eitan Dangot, Israel's coordinator of government activities in the territories, approved on Monday Assaf's request to move to the West Bank
along with his parents, sister and her husband, who manages the singing star. The official request for the address change was made by senior Palestinian Authority official Hussein al-Sheikh, a member of Fatah.
Assaf, a resident of the Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, realized that he could not pursue his ambitions while living in the Hamas-ruled territory.
Assaf, who was born to Palestinian parents in Libya, almost didn't get to compete. He said he had to plead with Hamas to let him leave Gaza, then bribe Egyptian border guards to let him enter the country for auditions in Cairo
before heading to Beirut, where the "Arab Idol" contest was broadcast from. His win gave the Palestinians a rare sense of pride and national unity.
Since winning "Arab Idol" a month and a half ago, Assaf has been making appearances in different Arab countries, and he spends the rest of his time in the West Bank, far from his family.
Upon his return from the contest in Beirut, the hugely-popular Assaf, a known supporter of Fatah, received a chilly welcome from the Hamas government in Gaza.
Since the Hamas
takeover in 2007, Gaza has become more isolated, amid growing animosity between the Islamic terrorists and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
, who administers part of the West Bank.
Abbas called the singer "the pride of the Palestinian and Arab nation" and gave him a diplomatic passport.
AP contributed to the report
You can contact Elior Levy, Ynet's Palestinian Affairs Correspondent, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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