Palestinian chef Jihad al-Maharmeh prepares a mixed Palestinian French dish, Freekeh lamb rack at Orjuwan restaurant in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Feb. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
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At a time of simmering Mideast tensions and rising malaise, a group of French chefs recently visited the occupied West Bank to bring a little joie de vivre to Palestinian kitchens.The eight chefs visited restaurants in Ramallah, Hebron, Nablus and East Jerusalem in a weeklong event earlier this month sponsored by the French government, which prides itself on culinary diplomacy and has held similar events in Japan, Brazil, India, Morocco and elsewhere. Halaika said he loved preparing food as a child and spent six years cooking in an Israeli restaurant outside Tel Aviv, where he earned a good salary but feared that authorities would discover he was sleeping in Israel illegally during the week.Back in Ramallah, Sakakini said the festival was a bright spot in a challenging time, when business has fallen by 30 percent due to renewed Israeli-Palestinian violence.
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