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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs