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Rise Palestine

20 February 2020

“We, Palestinians, are survivors,” said Her Excellency Hanan Jarrar, recently accredited Ambassador of Palestine to South Africa. She arrives in South Africa at a time when the African continent is rapidly changing and becoming the new frontier for investment, trade and tourism. This year also marks 75 years of the end of World War 2, and the freeing of prisoners from Nazi concentration camps and the end of the holocaust. It also marks 75 years of the United Nations.

Photo: Mrs Hanan Jarrar, Ambassador of Palestine in South Africa

Speaking to The Diplomatic Society Ambassador Jarrar reflected on life in the West Bank and her career in the Palestinian National Authority. Born and brought up in the city of Jenin she is the eldest among six siblings. Her father is a trader who began his career as a photographer. After completing her schooling she attended Birzeit University near Ramallah, 100kms away from Jenin. Here she studied and completed her degree in English Literature.

I was 14 years old in 1987, during the first Intifada (uprising) explains Jarrar. The Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation lasted until 1993. Her parents encouraged her to focus on getting an education, like most middle class parents who felt the best way to resist the and overcome the Israelis was to arm yourself with an education.

Jarrar started out as a translator for Arab and international relations. The interactions and engagements led her to enroll for a Master’s degree in International relations and diplomacy. On completion she joined the Ministry of Women Affairs as director of International Relations and was involved in several key projects.

As a Palestinian her desire is to serve her people, motivated by the so called Golden Era when engagement on peace building created an enabling environment within the Palestinian Authority, she joined the Ministry of International Cooperation. Here Ambassador Jarrar worked with the Palestinian International Cooperation Agency – PICA which provides Technical Cooperation Assistance when required. She also was instrumental in coordinating the conference for the 760 000 Palestinians who have found refuge in Latin America and the Caribbean and made it their home.

Her posting to South Africa is her first posting as Ambassador. As a mum, wife and Head of the Palestinian mission here in Pretoria, South Africa, she is well aware of the historic links between the liberation movements of Palestine and South Africa and the bond shared by Yasser Arafat and Nelson Mandela, the great icons of freedom.

South Africa’s solidarity with the people of Palestine has been steadfast and unwavering; it holds key positions on the global platform, namely non-permanent member of the UNSC and will assume its position as Chair of the African Union. These positions can prove influential in bringing about a peaceful solution to what has become untenable; a situation in which ordinary citizens bear the brunt of a conflict that is becoming irrelevant as younger generations grow weary at the futility of the situation

Trade, tourism, and investment are the ways to engage, people to people interactions and face to face meetings are the order of the day as innovations in communications technology and information and knowledge sharing has shrunk the world we live. Advances in travel and transportation logistics are allowing people to crisscross the world. “After all Jerusalem and Bethlehem, the biblical holy lands are part of Palestine and its people,” said Jarrar speaking about travel and tourism exchanges between South Africa and Palestine.

Arts, culture and sport are other areas of cooperation that should be strengthened and will be among the priorities for Ambassador Hanan Jarrar who is looking forward to her posting in South Africa.





February/March 2020








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