Dubai climate conference not immune from pro-Palestinian demonstrations

COP28 conference organizers have disallowed displaying the Palestinian flag, so like-minded activists are resorting to displaying a watermelon (green and red, much like the flag) and chanting 'Free Palestine' to make their point; Israeli delegation: 'They stand for human rights, but only if the people are not Jewish'

Despite United Nations restrictions that disallowed them from waving Palestinian flags or uttering specific slogans, over 100 activists in a venue designated as the "Blue Zone" by the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, which is managed by the international organization rather than local authorities, called for a cease-fire in Gaza.
<< Follow Ynetnews on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok >>
Read more:
Asad Rehman, spokesperson for the Climate Justice Coalition, addressed the Palestinian people in a statement. "We say to the Palestinian people that the international community may have forgotten you, but you are not alone," he said.
3 View gallery
בלי דגלי פלסטין. המחאה האנטי ישראלי ודובאי
בלי דגלי פלסטין. המחאה האנטי ישראלי ודובאי
Pro-Palestinian activists at COP28
(Photo: AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
He stirred the crowd, which shouted "Free Palestine." However, the echo of his chant was quickly silenced due to UN rules that prohibit the mention of states, leaders or corporations in activist demonstrations within the COP venue.
The solidarity event on Sunday, which was the largest to date, was still significantly smaller than the protests that have erupted in other regions worldwide since the conflict between Israel and Hamas initiated on October 7.
Nevertheless, it was a notable event for the United Arab Emirates, an alliance of seven sheikhdoms, where protests are not permitted, and speech that could incite or foster social unrest is prohibited.
When activist endeavors began on Sunday, the fourth day of the climate discussions, it was not the Emirati authorities who constrained the protest area, but the stringent UN rules that have governed previous COPs.
Those coordinating the event were required to obtain permits, designate zones for the action, and seek permission for banners, slogans, and chants – with some being prohibited.
"We were not allowed to name states or raise (Palestinian) flags," according to Abderraouf Ben Mohamed, a representative from the Debt for Climate group. This led the activists to use a watermelon, a recognized emblem of the pro-Palestinian movement since it is green and red like the Palestinian flag, as a means to circumvent the constraints.
3 View gallery
במקום דגל פלסטין, אבטיח
במקום דגל פלסטין, אבטיח
A watermelon instead of a flag
(Photo: AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Damian Godzisz, a member of the UAE's COP28 team, was instructed to remove a Palestinian flag and a keffiyeh scarf that were affixed to his bag during the security screening for the Blue Zone.
"I find it insensitive that while other nations can display their national attire, the Palestinian flag and keffiyeh are restricted," he said.
This conflict has significantly overshadowed the climate discussions taking place in Dubai and has severely affected the Palestinian Authority's COP28 delegation, which had previously been optimistic about its inaugural COP pavilion.
Just 10 representatives were able to make the journey for the event, with the majority deciding to cancel their involvement, the PA's climate expert, Hadeel Ikhmais, told the AFP news agency.
"It was really tough for us to come here, and up to the last-minute we were reconsidering our participation, saidIkhmais, who faced a near 11-hour journey fraught with checkpoints from her residence in Bethlehem to the airport in Jordan to board a flight to Dubai.
"What does climate justice mean, what does international law mean, when Palestinians are killed in cold blood and the world is just watching?" Ikhmais asked. "I want to go back. Honestly, we are counting the days just to go back home."
3 View gallery
הביתן הישראל והשלט הקורא להחזרת החטופים. מאחור תמונות כמה מהחטופים הנמצאים ברצועת עזה
הביתן הישראל והשלט הקורא להחזרת החטופים. מאחור תמונות כמה מהחטופים הנמצאים ברצועת עזה
A rather discreet Israeli delegation, calling on bringing back the hostages
(Photo: Bradley D’coutho)
At the Israeli pavilion, which was situated a short distance away, a collection of posters featuring those taken hostage by Hamas was exhibited alongside a large banner that declared: "Bring them home now."
Maya Kadosh, Israel's national coordinator for COP28, wore a dog tag displaying the same plea and shared her perception of prejudice among activists participating in the climate summit.
"I wish they would understand the Israeli suffering," she told AFP.
"They stand for human rights, but only if the people are not Jewish," she said of the activists.
"I think if people want really to help free Palestine and free the people of Palestine, they should help the people of Palestine get free from Hamas," Kadosh said.
Kadosh revealed that Israel had initially intended to send a delegation of 1,000 representatives to COP28, but the ongoing conflict significantly lowered that number to approximately 100, of which around 30 are government officials.
The commenter agrees to the privacy policy of Ynet News and agrees not to submit comments that violate the terms of use, including incitement, libel and expressions that exceed the accepted norms of freedom of speech.