Question the legitimacy of PLO and PA as true representatives of all Palestinians
(CHICAGO 01/24/2011) – As Americans of Palestinian heritage, we are extremely concerned by the revelations this past weekend about secret negotiations that took place between Palestinian, Israeli and American officials over the course of several years that offered Israel large portions of Palestinian land, denied millions of refugees the right to return to their homeland and put Islam’s third holiest site – the Al Aqsa mosque compound – on the negotiating table. We are concerned because these concessions are not in the best interest of the Palestinian people; indeed, they raise serious questions about the legitimacy of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority in their current structure and their acquiescence to and support of Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine.
The revelations came in the form of at least 1,600 documents leaked to Al Jazeera by an unnamed or unnamed sources. Al Jazeera, as well as The Guardian newspaper in England, both said they vetted and verified the information they presented to the public.
We now have clear evidence that the PLO and the PA do not with truth or integrity represent Palestinians’ interests. The documents show that the PLO’s lead negotiator Saeb Erekat was willing to concede large portions of East Jerusalem by allowing Israel to annex a number of settlements in exchange for virtually nothing. These colonial enterprises have been built in direct contravention of international law – including Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention – which prohibits an occupying force from moving its population into the land it occupies.
Ceding most of East Jerusalem and also giving Israel control of a large portion of Jerusalem’s Old City, including a portion of the Al Aqsa mosque compound, endangers the sanctity of the city not just for Palestinians or Arabs, but for the world’s billions of Christians and Muslims, from which their religious heritages are derived.
We are aggrieved that PLO negotiators were willing to deny the right of return to the nearly 9 million Palestinian refugees and internally displaced people, in addition to exclude them from participating in any future referendum to determine their own future and status. The right of return is an individual and a collective right guaranteed by international law. It is an inherent right that can not be bartered or traded away by a third party.
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