PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi delivered the closing keynote address entitled, “Framing Current Issues in Palestine,” at the 5th Annual Palestinian Diaspora Conference yesterday which was sponsored by the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) and the Know Thy Heritage (KTH) program; the Conference was held on July 12 and 13 at the Grand Park Hotel in Ramallah.
In her speech, Dr. Ashrawi, who serves on the KTH Advisory Board, congratulated both the HCEF and the KTH program for their “outstanding work” and commended them for “creating a space for the collective Palestinian experience which is important to all Palestinians and for contributing to the revitalization of the Palestinian collective as a whole.”
Dr. Ashrawi provided a thorough analysis of the current bleak situation, including the cruelties of the occupation and the encroachment of the Israeli military, and global, regional and local developments.
She stressed that peacemaking and nation-building are not mutually exclusive: “A state cannot be built under occupation.”
The issue of the recent flawed and unsatisfactory Middle East Quartet Report was raised, and Dr. Ashrawi said, “Such a report shows that the Quartet is backsliding, and the fact that the 1967 boundaries and the Israeli occupation are not raised is extremely problematic and undermines the basic requirements for peace. Given the asymmetry of power, the unaccountable military occupation and the political, legal and moral cover that Israel receives from the international community, bilateral negotiations will never succeed.”
She affirmed the importance of the French Initiative and said, “In order for it to succeed, the international peace conference must be based on international law and conventions and should include concrete terms of reference and objectives, a binding timeline and comprehensive mechanisms to end the military occupation, as well as measures for arbitration, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.”
The discussion also focused on the internal situation and the need for a national unity government and for genuine elections. In that context, Dr. Ashrawi stated, “The spirit, energy and courage of youth and women are what Palestine needs to rise and to overcome.”
At the end of her address, Dr. Ashrawi told the KTH delegates that as expatriates, exiles and refugees, they have “rights and responsibilities to forge our common future,” and she called on them “to remain steadfast and to return to and to invest in Palestine.