Palestine: PLO humiliated for denying free speech and elections
Frustration with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) has surfaced at a Conference in Istanbul on 25 and 26 February attended by 6000 Palestinian Arabs living abroad in more than 50 countries…writes David Singer.
The organisers established a new political entity to represent Palestinian Arab diaspora communities.
The new organisation – as yet unnamed and to be based in Beirut – called for:
- the end of the Oslo agreement signed between Israel and the PLO in 1993,
- the restructuring of the PLO on a more representative basis for all Palestinians, and
- the formation of a democratically elected Palestinian National Council – the PLO’s legislative body in exile.
The conference established a General Commission headed by Palestinian historian Salman abu Sitta and Majed al-Zeer, a Britain-based activist, Naela al-Waari, a scholar and women’s rights activist, and Saif Abu Kishah, a youth activist, as his three deputies.
The new organisation does not aim to replace the PLO – which has been representing the Palestinian Arabs since 1964 and been their sole spokesman since 1974.
Ribhi Halloum – a former PLO Ambassador stressed:
“We are trying here to create a supporting structure to be an asset to the PLO, not against it,”
Fatah – the main faction in the PLO did not agree – issuing a statement attacking the conference and accusing it of being an:
“attempt to divide the Palestinian people.”
PLO member Ahmad al-Majdalani said that the motives behind the conference were “suspicious” – echoing accusations that the event was organised to export internal Palestinian political divisions abroad.
A member of Hamas’ politburo Izzat al-Rashq expressed support for the conference on behalf of Hamas – adding that:
“those who claim that Hamas is behind the conference are mistaken.”
No matter whose viewpoint one believes – the Conference is surely evidence that the Palestinian Arabs living abroad want to have a say in their own future and have formed an organisation that will allow them to do so – because they consider that the PLO as presently structured is not meeting their aspirations.
Conference spokesman Said Ziyad al Aloul supports this conclusion:
“We as Palestinian diaspora have the right to organise and tell the traditional Palestinian leaders what we think is the best way forward,”
Anees Fawzi Kassem – the head of the conference – said the Oslo Accords were the worst deal possible and had resulted in Palestinians being unable to represent Palestinians.
“We are gathered here today to demand that we the people of Palestine be given our voice back,”
Khalid Turaani, another spokesperson for the conference reportedly claimed:
“It is high time that Palestinians come together to ensure that a weak donor-bondaged [PLO] doesn’t give away any more of our legal historic and moral rights in Palestine,”
Kassem’s and Turanni’s sentiments will resonate with those Palestinian Arabs living under PLO rule whose voices have been silenced whilst being denied free, fair and transparent elections since 2006.
Negotiations between Israel and the PLO under the Oslo Accords were always destined to founder since the PLO Charter states that:
- Israel, Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan are:
- An indivisible territorial unit and
- An indivisible part of the Arab homeland
- The 1917 Balfour Declaration, the 1922 Mandate for Palestine and everything based on them since then are null and void.
- Jews do not constitute a single nation with an identity of its own
Jordan and Israel’s 1994 Peace Treaty rejected these PLO deal-breakers.
Oslo’s demise opens the possibility of Jordan and Israel redrawing their existing international boundary to mutually divide the West Bank between their respective States.
President Trump should jump to seal the deal.
David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network