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Ramallah, De Facto Capital of Palestine

Ramallah, Palestine

While Palestinians dream of Jerusalem being their capital, Ramallah functions as their capital city, with government agencies and the tomb of Yasser Arafat. At Birzeit University — with 9,000 students, the leading university in the West Bank — three young women share their thoughts about what it’s like to live in Palestine.

Complete Video Script

The city of Ramallah is the de facto capital of Palestine. While most Palestinians consider Jerusalem their rightful capital, so do Israelis — and sharing Jerusalem seems unlikely for now. So, that leaves Ramallah to host the Palestinian government and international agencies.

Adjacent the president’s headquarters stands the tomb of Yasser Arafat.

While he certainly has plenty of detractors, this Palestinian statesman, who led the PLO from 1969 until 2004, is without a doubt the father of modern Palestine.

Call him what you like, people here celebrate Arafat as the man who did more than anyone else to raise awareness of the Palestinian struggle for independence.

Nearby, at Birzeit University — with its beautiful campus and 10,000 students — you can feel the energy of a younger generation working hard for a stable and prosperous future. A stroll through the campus gives me a chance to connect with students, and learn a bit about their culture.

Rick: In a university like this, are there more men or more women studying?
Second student: Women, I believe, women…
First student: I think more women, yes.
Rick: What is it like for a woman in Palestine?
First student: They live freely, like womens in the world.
Second student: Yes, we can do everything together. We can go out together, and no judgments, nothing.
Rick: So what is the hope for…for the future?
Second student: Of course to live in peace, to have peace and to be, you know —
Third student: To have, to have all your family around, to go abroad whenever you want.
First student: I hope to live in peace, to live freely.
Rick: Free women with a good future.
Students: Yes.
Rick: Insha’Allah.
Students: Insha’Allah. Yes, thank you. Insha’Allah.

The city of Ramallah is filled with the same youthful and positive energy I felt at its university. Whether coming together at the Square of the Lions or browsing along a stylish shopping street, Ramallah helps me envision a future with a peaceful and prosperous Palestine.