May 30 - A Palestinian artist has designed his own unofficial entry stamp for Palestine which he offers to tourists when they arrive. Nick Rowlands reports.
Tourists arriving at the West Bank city of Ramallah are met by Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar, who asks if they would like an unofficial entry stamp for Palestine. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) DESIGNER OF PALESTINE STAMP, KHALED JARRAR: "I thought that there is no stamp for the state of Palestine, no one is stamping the people who are coming to the state of Palestine. So, I thought that I would do it, and start stamping passports." Living under occupation, Palestinians do not have the right to set up their own frontier controls, and Jarrar believes the stamp he has designed carries a political message. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) DESIGNER OF PALESTINE STAMP, KHALED JARRAR: "I believe in art that makes a difference, that talks change. And the art that I am making, is making a political statement." Some tourists are worried that accepting the stamp will cause problems for them later at the Israeli border. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TOURIST FROM NEW ZEALAND WHO REFUSED TO GET HIS PASSPORT STAMPED, JOSEPH SMITH: "It's hard enough coming into the country and then I hear that it's hard enough leaving the country and maybe I'll make it easier for myself and have fewer questions at the border, but I do support the state of Palestine." Other visitors are enthusiastic about the project. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MORJANA BENEDETTI, TOURIST FROM ITALY WHO HAD HER PASSPORT STAMPED: "I'm very supportive of the Palestinian cause, and I think this is occupation. So I find it outrageous that they don't have the right to have their own authority. So I think this is a symbol of them, it's silly, but it's like a country. I get a stamp of Israel but I don't get a stamp of Palestine. Like this, I have a stamp of Palestine." (SOUNDBITE) (English) ZANET STEPIAN, TOURIST FROM POLAND WHO HAD HER PASSPORT STAMPED: "I decided to have my passport stamped, the Palestinian stamp, because I believe this land belongs to the Palestinians. And my Israeli stamp is on a separate sheet of paper which I can throw away later." Palestinians want to set up an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as their capital. Almost 20 years of on-off negotiations have failed to resolve the issue, and the Palestinians say they will seek United Nations recognition of statehood in September. Nick Rowlands, Reuters.