The Palestinian Legislative Council: moving closer to Jerusalem

“How can we reach Jerusalem?” So asked Ahmad Qurei (Abu Alaa), former Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority (PA) and earlier (1993) the director of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR).

In his capacity as director of PECDAR and using funds from a Japanese grant, Qurei acquired land for the new offices of the Economic Ministry from a charitable trust. The parcel was supposedly in the village of Abu Dis, certainly closer to Jerusalem than the city of Ramallah. “Abu Dis is a village that belongs to Jerusalem,” explained Qurei. But, Qurei had actually chosen a location mostly within the Jerusalem municipal boundary, with Abu Dis to the east.

In an interview for Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency (DAAR; see “Assembling Voices“), Qurei continued, “There is no Palestine without Jerusalem … I told [Yasser Arafat] that he was the only one that could create the necessary conditions. If he came closer to Jerusalem, he could create the conditions … his dream and hope was Jerusalem. If he could not reach Jerusalem, he would not have achieved anything.” The city of Ramallah, headquarters of the PA, is closer to Jerusalem, but not close enough.

So, Arafat’s strategy was to first move closer to Jerusalem. “The closer we come to Al Quds (Jerusalem) the closer we come to our national rights,” Qurei asserted.

Qurei hired an architect and began the construction project. Construction caught the attention of Israel’s then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. In a meeting with Arafat, Rabin wanted to know what the building was. Arafat answered that it was not for him. It was for Qurei. Qurei then claimed that the building was to be his own house, a building for himself, but it could be used for the government. Rabin insisted that the construction was not permitted. He said that it was a serious matter for Israel. Qurei also received pushback from the military and from a couple of Israeli organizations (Ateret Cohanim and Elad). Nonetheless, the ministry building was finished.

“Arafat’s dream, as President of the Palestinian National Authority, was to visit the new building, to stay for several hours,” said Qurei. For Arafat’s sake, the eastern room has a view of the Haram ash-Sharif and the Al Aksa Mosque through a wide window.

About the same time, Qurei was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council – the PA’s parliament. Qurei asked the architect to add a hall for the parliament.

However, the parliament building is still incomplete and unusable because the PA does not have full autonomy in Abu Dis where the entry is.

Looking back, Qurei viewed the building as temporary. Jerusalem as it was before 1967 was going to be the capital of the Palestinian state. Nothing less would be acceptable.

Even so, the building in Abu Dis is closer to Jerusalem than Ramallah. Asked Qurei, “Isn’t that coming closer to Jerusalem?”
_____________

DAAR interviewed three Palestinians who objected to a center of governance that excludes Palestinians wherever they are. They voiced the spirit of the Palestinian Declaration of Independence: “The State of Palestine is the state of Palestinians wherever they may be.”

The Palestinian National Council (PNC), they explain, is the true parliament of the Palestinian nation. The PNC (an arm of the PLO – Palestine Liberation Organization) still meets outside of Israel so that all its members can attend.

On the other hand, the local Legislative Council for the West Bank and Gaza is not sovereign, so how can it decide where to have a capital?

Fajr Harb, activist, objected that “politically the location is problematic” and that it represents the end result of the Oslo Accords. The legislature of the PA does not articulate the common ground and collective fate of Palestinians. It could be regarded not as a parliament but more like a municipality’s council, said Harb.
_____________

See a photo, a map and an aerial view (from DAAR). The Guardian also covered the subject of the legislative building.

Advertisements

U.S. warns no one will be ‘fully pleased’ by Israeli-Palestinian peace plan

“No one will be fully pleased with our proposal, but that’s the way it must be if real peace is to be achieved,” officials said. “Peace can only succeed if it is based on realities.”

NoOnePleasedPeacePlan

(Times of Israel August 15, 2018)

Embarrassment and sadness in the U.S.

I don’t think … that the American people, by and large, are angry. I think they’re deeply embarrassed, and I think they’re sad about what has come to the country. And I think, at the end of the day, embarrassment and sadness are more explosive than anger.

George F. Will

Conservative columnist
Interviewed by Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC
July 24, 2018

From the Quran: giving and taking away power

From the Surah “Family of Amram” — Chapter 3
Verse: 3:26

Say, “O G-d! the L-rd of all power, You grant power to whomsoever You will and take away power from whomsoever You please, and confer honor and dignity on whomsoever You will and disgrace whomsoever You will. All good lies in Your hand. Verily, You are the Possessor of full power to do all You will….”

(I misplaced the source for the above translation.)

This verse is cited at the end of the Palestinian Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence was ratified by the Palestine Liberation Organization’s legislative body, the Palestine National Council, on November 15, 1988.

An English translation of the declaration that is attributed to Edward Said reads:

[In the name of G-d, the Compassionate, the Merciful:]
Say: O G-d, Master of the Kingdom, /
Thou givest the Kingdom to whom Thou wilt, /
And seizes the Kingdom from whom Thou wilt, /
Thou exalted whom Thou wilt, and Thou /
Abasest whom Thou wilt; in Thy hand /
Is the good; Thou art powerful over everything.

(See Benny Morris, One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009, pp. 125-6)

Also see the translation of this verse by Maulana Muhammad Ali at the website of The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement (retrieved July 20, 2018):

Say: O Al-lah, Owner of the Kingdom, Thou givest the kingdom to whom Thou pleasest, and takest away the kingdom from whom Thou pleasest, and Thou exaltest whom Thou pleasest and abasest whom Thou pleasest. In Thine hand is the good. Surely, Thou art Possessor of power over all things.

Proposed U.S. plan to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict

The “deal of the century” or “ultimate deal” is U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This plan is a purported agreement between the U.S., Israel, and the Arab allies Jordan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Egypt to end the two-state proposal and to divide or share sovereignty over the Palestinian population in the occupied territories between Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.

Jared Kushner, a White House senior adviser (and the President’s son-in-law), has been brokering a deal with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, chief U.S. negotiator for the region, visited both Saudi Arabia and Jordan in June 2018 to prepare to release Mr. Trump’s proposal which, it has been suggested, has been 18 months in the making.

A decision to release the plan comes with no indication that 82-year-old Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority President (and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization – PLO), will entertain the plan. He has refused to meet with U.S. negotiators since the U.S. president recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

An unnamed senior Jordanian official said, “Arab states will not be the ones to throw a wrench ‎in the wheels of the peace process, and that Abbas’s ‎continued refusal to work with the Americans will ‎lead to a regional peace plan being launched without ‎him.”

One element of the proposal is that Saudi Arabia will control the Temple Mount in place of Jordan’s current custodianship. In addition, the town Abu Dis – adjacent to Jerusalem – will become the capital of the Palestinian Authority. Speculation has it that any Palestinian state would have limited sovereignty.

In related news, Mahmoud Abbas seeks to convene a session of the Palestine National Council (PNC) to break ties with Israel. The PNC, located in Amman, Jordan, has not met since 2009.

The council is:

the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and elects the PLO Executive Committee, which assumes leadership of the organization between its sessions. The PNC is [the legislative body] responsible for formulating the policies and programs for the PLO. It serves as the parliament that represents all Palestinians inside and outside the Palestinian territories, and all sectors of the worldwide Palestinian community, including political parties, popular organizations, resistance movements, and independent figures from all sectors of life. (Wikipedia, “Palestine National Council“)

_____________

Gleaned from:

Al Jazeera – beware of malware * – “Four Arab states ‘support US plan’ for peace in the Middle East.” June 25, 2018.

Al Jazeera – beware of malware * – “Palestinian National Council to discuss ending ties with Israel.” April 28, 2018.

James M. Dorsey – academia.edu, “Saudi religious diplomacy targets Jerusalem.” December 2017.

James M. Dorsey, “Trading Jerusalem for Iran.” December 16, 2017.

Goldberg, Jeffrey. “Saudi Crown Prince: Iran’s Supreme Leader ‘Makes Hitler Look Good’.” The Atlantic. April 2, 2018.

Middle East Monitor, “White House senior adviser Jared Kushner discusses ‘deal of the century’ and Gaza siege with Netanyahu.” June 23, 2018.

Middle East Monitor, “Haaretz: Most Arab leaders agree to US ‘deal of century’.” July 2, 2018.

The New York Times, “Talk of a Peace Plan That Snubs Palestinians Roils Middle East.” December 3, 2017.

The Washington Post, “Trump axes the Iran deal and creates a new crisis.” May 9, 2018.

The Washington Post, “U.S. close to releasing Mideast peace proposal that Palestinian leadership may immediately reject.” June 21, 2018.

_____________

* beware of malware – A false Microsoft screen. Perhaps triggered by visiting the site. A Saudi cyber attack comes to mind.