Source AP ©

Popular singer Saber el-Rubai visits West Bank

Tunisian Saber el-Rubai, one of the most popular singers in the Arab world, made a rare visit to the West Bank. He supposes that other Arab artists will follow in his footsteps.

El-Rubai, 40, known for his husky voice and soulful ballads, will give two concerts in the biblical oasis of Jericho in the West Bank later this week.

He said his visit is an attempt to give the Palestinians a sense of normalcy.

"I call on all the Arab artists to spread cheer and hope for every Arab citizen by coming here and overcoming the difficulties," el-Rubai said at a news conference in Ramallah.

Few major Arab performers have visited the Palestinian areas during the last seven years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting.

El-Rubai crossed from Jordan into the West Bank on Monday, passing an Israeli border point.

He first visited the West Bank in 1999, a year before the outbreak of the fighting. At the time, movement in the Palestinian territories was relatively unhindered. He said he took note of several Israeli army checkpoints on his trip from the border town of Jericho to Ramallah.

On Tuesday, El-Rubai met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at his headquarters in Ramallah.

The singer is being hosted by Paltelgroup, one of the biggest Palestinian companies. The company said the proceeds from the two concerts would go to charity.

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