NABLUS, West Bank (AP) – Palestinian bakers made an extra-large version of a local pastry Saturday, hoping to set a world record and restore this former militant stronghold’s reputation at the West Bank’s economic hub.
Their kunafa, a sticky mix of vermicelli, syrup and cheese, weighed 1,765 kilograms (3,891 lbs) and was 74 meters (243 feet) long. The sweets were laid out on a tray stretching across Nablus’ main square and were quickly devoured by tens of thousands of visitors.
The measurements were certified by the Palestinian Standards Institute, and organizers said they’ll submit the results to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Mohanad Rabi, a local real estate developer who has been in touch with Guinness, said he is confident the record would be accepted. He said he was unaware of previous attempts to bake super-size kunafa.
The bake-off is also meant to clean up the city’s image, tarnished by chaos and violence during the second Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation. For nine years, starting in 2000, the Israeli military held the city in a chokehold of checkpoints. The restrictions were significantly eased last month, in a nod to the Palestinian government’s recent law and order campaign, and visitors can now enter freely.
“The message of today is that we want to live in peace,” Rabi said. “We can build our nation and our future.”
The Nablus cleanup is part of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s attempt to show a greater security presence in the West Bank, where Israeli forces retain overall control. Israel has praised the Palestinians’ recent efforts, but continues to carry out arrest raids in Palestinian towns and says it’s premature to talk about a West Bank pullback.
Despite the improved atmosphere, it seems unlikely Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which broke off last year, will resume anytime soon. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he won’t go back to negotiations unless Israel halts settlement expansion.