Though preparations are underway in Annapolis, Maryland for the hosting of a Middle-East peace conference, the one called for by President George Bush, it is very unlikely that this conference will take place and if it does, the pressure is building up on the Ramallah leadership (but not the Palestinian leadership) to give up in advance many of its previously announce positions.
Secret talks are already underway between the Ramallah leadership and the Israelis and the Palestinians have already retreated from demanding a set of pronounced goals and objectives for the conference to agreeing to a set of principals that are not binding on Israel. The Ramallah leadership has appointed the brilliant negotiator Ahmed Qurai to lead the negotiation, the same man who is responsible for the disaster that is Oslo. So much so for having the best and the brightest to lead the negotiations.
The word is out that even Mahmoud Abbas the head of the Palestinian Authority confirming to his best friend Uhud Elmer that when he speaks of the Palestinian refugee's "Right of Return" he (Abbas) is only speaking of their rights to return to the areas of the West Bank and Gaza but not to Israel of 48.
Israel with the support of the US, its partner in the occupation, having succeeded in getting the trio ( Arafat, Abbas and Qurai) to recognize Israel, without ever defining the borders of the state is now pushing for a recognition of the "Jewishness" of the State, making sure that not only it denies the right of Palestinians refugees to the possibility of return or admitting the responsibility for their exiles and expulsion, is now putting at grave risk the more than 1.4 million Palestinians who continue to reside in Israel after the 1948 war. From experience and giving the level of intellectual and legal sophistications of Ahmed Qurai, most likely he will agree to this provision just like he agreed to the continued expansion of the settlements and confiscations of Palestinian land and the continued building of the Apartheid Wall, making sure he gets a piece of the business action from Israel in return.
Dr. Salman Abu-Sitta of Al-Awda in London with doubt a great scholar and nationalist published an open letter few days ago in Al-Quds Al-Arabi, addressed to Mahmoud Abbas as both the president of the PA and chairman of the PLO warning him of the pitfalls of agreeing to such recognition. However and with all due respect the call of Dr. Abu-Sitta to reform the PLO to represent all Palestinians is little too late. The conference is only few weeks ago and there is no way Abbas-Qurai will agree to that let alone manage to that within the short time. The PLO leadership failed to reform over the last 30 years it is unlikely they will do it now.
As it stand, the Ramallah leadership, though elected by the people under Israeli Occupation is going to the conference with the claim it represent all 10 million Palestinians. Of course those in Gaza Hamastan, Ramallah Fatahland, the more than 6 million Diasporaland.
The PLO as corrupt and inept as it was even its heydays never did represent all of the Palestinian people. The Palestine National Congress was nothing more than a "yes" organization, bought and sold and traded by Arafat and his henchmen. The PNC never had the backbone or the courage to ever have a say so and sat on its behind while the Palestinian Troika of Arafat, Abbas, and Quarie committed one blunder after another. With all due respect to Dr. Abu-Sitta, the PLO is dead and died long time ago.
As a matter of urgency, I call on all of the Palestinians in the Diaspora especially those organizations committed to the right of return to convene in Washington, DC under the banner of the Palestine Agency and hold a press conference and demand a seat at the table equal to that offered by George Bush and Israel the guys from Ramallah.
It is true and no one can deny it, that the guys from Ramallah do represent the Palestinians under Occupation, having been elected in fair and open elections, However this Ramallah leadership was never elected by the Palestinians of the Diaspora and in NO way represent the Palestinians in the Diaspora, and have NO rights whatsoever to represent them and compromise their rights of return and their rights to reclaim their lost properties. Abbas can waive his rights in Safad but he has no right to waive the rights of people in Haifa, or Acca or Yafa.
Mahmoud Abbas, Ahmed Qurai and Yasser Abed-Rabou are not the Palestinian people of the Diaspora and were never elected by any one. They are the leftover of a defunct organization that lost its legitimacy long, long time ago.
A press conference should coincide with the convening of the peace conference where representatives of the Palestinians from the Diaspora from around the world make it clear to the Ramallah leadership, the Tel-Aviv leadership, certainly to Washington that only the representative of the Diaspora are the one who can make the decisions for the Palestinians of the Diaspora. Even if it means re-convening the peace conferences at a later date. Yes, Israel has to deal with the Palestinians of the Diaspora and not with guys from Ramallah or for that matter the guys in Damascus and their proxies in Gaza making such decisions. I am sure the Palestinians of the Diaspora want peace, but not the kind of peace that Abbas and Quari are out to achieve. Time for the Palestinians of the Diaspora to put their act together separate and independent of the PLO of the Palestinian Troika.