Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Boko Haram horsemen kill nearly 80 people in North East Nigeria

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

2015-08-31 20:44 MEDIA WATCH

Read more

THE DEBATE

Europe's Migrant Crisis: Share the burden or shut the borders? (part 2)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Europe's Migrant Crisis: Share the burden or shut the borders? (part 1)

Read more

FOCUS

The painful truth behind Italy's 'red gold' harvest

Read more

ENCORE!

Music show: Rock en Seine, Maïa Vidal and a-ha

Read more

REPORTERS

Meet the French troops hunting jihadists in Sahel

Read more

REVISITED

Middle East: A West Bank town’s fragile rebirth

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Grassroots and new faces in Japan's protests

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2013-05-10

Middle East: Munib al-Masri, the godfather of Nablus

In the West Bank, everyone calls him "The Godfather". Munib al-Masri, 80, is not only the richest Palestinian in the Palestinian Territories; he is also one of the most influential. In his final years, he is obsessed by two goals: reconciling the Palestinians, and making peace with Israel. Our reporters met him and followed him on the road in the Middle East.

Munib al-Masri’s day begins early. He sleeps little and does not like sitting around. After getting up and having a full oriental breakfast, he generally sets off around 7 am.

With the phone glued to his ear, this Palestinian billionaire who made his fortune in oil  travels the roads of the Middle East at a frenetic pace. He gets into a car with Palestinian licence plates to cross the Territories, then suddenly changes vehicle at the edge of the road. Munib then climbs aboard a 4x4 with Israeli plates, allowing him to reach the other side of the wall of separation. The Israeli authorities grant him these few privileges, such as VIP status, he tells us.

This Middle Eastern Don Quixote is trying to find new partners for his initiative to restart the peace process. Munib knows how to use the charm and authority his age give him. He approaches people without hesitation, wherever they are. He uses this audacity and skill with Hamas members in Gaza, just as he does with Israeli settlers near Nablus, his native city. Munib al-Masri talks to everyone, but his influence remains difficult to measure as long as the stalemate on the ground continues.

The philanthropist, who was close to late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, is attached to the idea that things can change very quickly towards chaos or peace. He believes that a moment of courage from current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be sufficient. Munib likes to tell a story that Israeli President Shimon Peres recounted to him: that Ariel Sharon took just a few minutes to make the decision to dismantle all the settlements in Gaza.

Today, even if the peace process seems as stalled as ever, this tireless activist refuses to give up on his dreams.

By Gallagher Fenwick , Marc Perelman

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2015-08-27 Sahara

Meet the French troops hunting jihadists in Sahel

We take you inside "Operation Barkhane", France's anti-terrorist operation in Africa’s Sahel and Sahara.

Read more

2015-08-21 Kenya

Kenya's Iten: Home of athletic champions

The small town of Iten in Kenya is a long distance runner’s paradise. Dozens of champions have trained in the town, situated at an altitude of 2,600 metres. It has become the...

Read more

2015-08-14 Afghanistan

The Afghan interpreters left behind by the French army

At the end of 2014, the French army completely withdrew from Afghanistan. But it left behind its former Afghan interpreters who now live in fear of the Taliban, who accuse them...

Read more

2015-07-21 Iran

Iran: How the nuclear deal was done

On July 14th, Iran and six world powers struck a deal that brought an end to over 12 years of bitter stalemate. Tehran, suspected by some nations of attempting to acquire an...

Read more

2015-07-17 India

India's Christians forced to pray in secret

Many Christians in India have to pray in secret. Churches are being set on fire, believers attacked and property vandalised. This rising tide of violence shows no sign of...

Read more