About a year-and-a-half ago, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for the planting of one million trees in the Palestinian Authority. Now, his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, is adding a zero to that target.
Ten million saplings – this is the PA government's new goal, which was declared by Fayyad on Tuesday at the opening of the "Green Qalqilya Week" fair, which was attended by thousands of people, including Fatah and PA officials, as well as diplomatic representatives.
Various plant nurseries from around the city gathered at the Qalqilya stadium for a large exhibition, which Fayyad called a "testament to the Palestinians' growing determination to hold on to their land and make it blossom."
He added, to the crowd's cheers, that the saplings plan is mean to "emphasize our grip on this land and nurture our quality of life.
Qalqilya plant exhibition on Tuesday (Photo: Ali Waked)
"The roots of the shortest olive tree sapling on Palestinian land run deeper than the separation fence that is destined to vanish," he said, adding, "We will not allow fences and settlements to lower our resolve to establish a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital."
After the opening speeches, the thousands of visitors swarmed the various nurseries' booths, and took pictures with the plants and colorful flowers.
The nursery owners put out trays of baklava, and various commercial companies, banks and organizations set up booths around the exhibition.
Qalqilya Governor Rabih al-Khandaqji told Ynet that the exhibition had a deeper purpose beyond the PR effort: To open to the farmers and nursery owners new markets – local ones, in the Palestinian territories in general, in Israel, and even abroad.
"We hope our goods reach the markets in Israel. If Israel wants to support and promote peace, it should allow us to export our products abroad."