News / Middle East

Palestinian Voices Call for Unity, But Not Compromise

Israeli naval vessels (L) arrive at the port of Ashdod in southern Israel, 05 Jun 2010
Israeli naval vessels (L) arrive at the port of Ashdod in southern Israel, 05 Jun 2010

Israel's blockade of Gaza has become the focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, following the killing of nine activists who tried to break the blockade.  With Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas scheduled to meet with President Obama Wednesday,  a group of prominent Palestinians met in Washington to talk about the underlying crisis in the Mideast peace process.

The Palestinians took part in a discussion sponsored by the American-Arab, Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Political Science Professor Asad Ghanem accused the Palestinian government in the West Bank of clinging in vain to the deal negotiated 17 years ago with Israel in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

"So it is time for the Palestinian leadership to take a political decision that Oslo is over," said Asad Ghanem. " It is over!

Ghanem is a professor at the University of Haifa in Israel.  He said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was not interested in the welfare of all Palestinians.

Ghanem suggested that Abbas - who is also known as Abu Mazen - is planning to declare a Palestinian state without insisting that Palestinan refugees be allowed to return to Israel, and ignoring other issues of importance to Palestinians outside the West Bank.

"If you sign with Abu Mazen, an agreement about the West Bank and Gaza Strip, we as Palestinians in Israel will continue the struggle," he said. "This is our right!  This is the right of the refugees!"

Ghanem said efforts to find a two-state solution - the goal of the Oslo accords - will not work.  The land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea should be a secular state for Jews and Palestinians, he said.

Ghanem's harshest words were calling Abu Mazen a "subcontractor", implementing Israel's security interests in the West Bank.

That drew an angry response from the chief of the Palestinian mission to the United States, Maen Rashid Areikat.  He said the Palestinian authority is implementing security for the benefit of Palestinians in the West Bank, and suggested that Ghanem preferred the violent methods like Hamas's rocket attacks from Gaza.

"Do we always need to struggle by blowing up people in busses, and restaurants, and firing these primitive missiles, that they are only causing retaliation," said Maen Rashid Areikat. "Cannot we oppose the Israeli occupation like we are doing now, the nonviolent demonstrations that you see every day?"

Areikat defended the Oslo accords.  He said they were meant to be a first step toward resolving the more difficult issues.

After the panel was over, Ghanem said Palestinians need a new leadership that represents those in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and abroad.

"What I am proposing is an election, to replace the current leadership of Hamas, and Abu Mazen, and this is the time to rethink, democratically, how we can choose our leadership," said Ghanem.

Areikat rejected that out of hand.

"The call for the establishment of an alternative leadership is really really dangerous," he said. "We have struggled many years to recognize the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people."

He said calling for an alternative leadership now is tantamount to ending the Palestinian national struggle.  


Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid