Open Letter (my second) to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Leadership
Tonight is the night, we are told. The Palestinian leadership will hold an extraordinary meeting in Ramallah. Yes, another meeting. But this is not just any meeting: it is being promoted as the mother of all meetings.
This meeting comes on the heels of Israel’s swearing-in of their thirty-fifth cabinet — a coalition government, the largest government in Israel’s history, whose political platform brazenly calls for another round of annexations, this time of the West Bank. The boldness of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz emerges from the green light provided to them from the US by none other than Emperor Donald, Prince Jared, and King David (as in Ambassador David M. Friedman, whose middle name is Melech, which means “king” — you can’t make this stuff up).
The Palestinian leadership is sick and tired of being sick and tired. They promise to act tonight in a way that will shock all. I have previously volunteered my advice to the Palestinian leadership on how to restart the Palestinian political system, hold elections, and engage the world, by way of an Open Letter to Chairman of the PLO and President of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, but to no avail.
Here and now I offer my advice again. As a citizen of Palestine, there are few opportunities to engage the calcified Palestinian political system, so these public appeals are meant to compensate for a real, representative political role. Of course, there can never be a replacement for an authentic operating political system, but that is an argument for another day.
The following two-prong approach promises to be exponentially more valuable than any long-winded rambling which results in incremental steps that do not come close to rising to the occasion.
The first step that caused Palestine and Palestinians to enter their 100-year nightmare was enacted by the imperial power at the time, the United Kingdom, and it was called the Balfour Declaration. The declaration was contained in a letter dated 2 November 1917 from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.
The Balfour Declaration was a single sentence and 67 words long. It read as follows:
“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
Tonight’s meeting of the Palestinian leadership can make history by taking two actions.
First, issue the following declaration, it can be called the People’s Declaration, and is one sentence and 73, not 67, words long — given that the number 67 is extremely sensitive to every Palestinian and 73 should be the same for Israelis:
The Palestinian people, wherever they currently reside, view with absolute determination that Palestine remains the natural home for all Palestinians — Muslim, Christian and Jewish — and will be freed by their steadfastness and continued struggle for freedom and independence, first and foremost, and with the support of peace-loving citizens around the world, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be accepted which may prejudice the inalienable rights of all Palestinians, starting with Palestinian refugees.
Second, in an attempt to remain political, as well as contributing to saving a rules-based world order, there should be a clear call to action from the Palestinian leadership tonight toward mobilizing UN member states to save Palestinians, and the world, from rogue states such as Israel, by calling for the following 5-point plan of action for all stakeholders to work toward:
Dear Chairman of the PLO, President of the Palestinian National Authority, President of the State of Palestine, and Chairman of the largest PLO faction, Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas, enough is enough.
Forge your legend tonight by making the above declaration in Arabic, English, and Hebrew and issuing the 5-point plan of action. Then, step down in a planned and institutional fashion, and let the next generation of Palestinian leaders march forward. Our struggle demands it!
Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American living in Ramallah/Al-Bireh in Occupied Palestine. He blogs at ePalestine.ps. @SamBahour