JOUN, Lebanon: Around 100 young men and women concluded a Lebanese-Palestinian five-day camp aimed at building cooperation between the two communities.
Palestinian and Lebanese youth came together for the several days of cooperation building exercises put together by the Hariri Foundation and several local Palestinian organizations in the Mkhalles monastery in the Chouf village of Joun.
The camp is part of a continuing dialogue between Lebanese and Palestinian youth to try to break boundaries and achieve some of the humanitarian demands of the Palestinian people, event organizers said.
During the concluding ceremony Sunday evening Lebanese and Palestinian singers performed songs from their respective countries and dance groups performed popular dances, which was followed by a dinner banquet.
Camp participants met President Michel Sleiman and Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai as well as other religious scholars. The monks of the monastery where the camp was held also helped hold workshops for participants.
Also during the ceremony, Sidon MP Bahia Hariri stressed that the Lebanese-Palestinian camp was one of the few places where people could come together in trying times.
“This camp with its great goals will remain a space for common ground when groups are torn apart,” Hariri said.
She added that slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri believed in dialogue, and that the camp will continue until stability, security and civil peace are achieved in Lebanon and Palestine.
“Palestine will remain a just cause for all sects and across all borders,” Hariri said. “I welcome all participants and tell them Sidon will receive you at all times, especially when it is able to bring together Lebanese and Palestinian youth.”
The camp emphasized ways for the two youth groups to work through differences among themselves.
“You should be proud of what you accomplished. Dialogue takes place between both those who differ and those who agree,” she said.
“Part of the etiquette of dialogue is accepting differences and you have applied that.
“Perhaps it is your enthusiasm that gives me the strength to continue with you,” she added.
Hariri received a memorial plaque from a Palestinian youth participating in the camp. She then honored two pairs of Lebanese and Palestinian twins to honor the similarity of the two countries and their commitment to the Palestinian cause. She also distributed certificates to all the youths who participated in the camp and in the organizing committee.
The Lebanese-Palestinian dialogue committee has recently put an emphasis on staging similar community building activities, holding dinners and meetings with Lebanese and Palestinian officials at Palestinian refugee camps across the country.
Lebanese-Palestinian relations have been strained recently by increasing tensions between camp residents and the military.
Thousands of Palestinians have poured into the country in recent weeks after the Syrian uprising reached Palestinian camps there.