Contrary to the statements made at the hearing, the above four points are sufficient proof of Palestinians’ commitment to reaching a just and lasting peace with Israel. The PLO has renounced violence, recognized Israel’s right to exist, and has engaged itself in a lengthy negotiation process for over two decades only to be met by Israeli breaches of signed agreements, continued violations of basic human rights, and a relentless campaign of settlement building and other facts on the ground that undermine the possibility of a two-state solution. Yet, in spite of the grim situation, the Palestinian leadership invited members of the new Knesset to have conversations with them on the political process.
This begs the question: why was a hearing held with such an alarming degree of misinformation? The answer is the absence of engagement and dialogue. Unfortunately it has become a habit of congressional hearings on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to dismiss the Palestinian perspective entirely. Who benefits from such a misguided approach? It should be no surprise that dismissing the Palestinian view is a disservice to the American constituent, and runs contrary to the principles and purposes upon which the idea of “impartial” hearings is founded.
Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to visit Israeli and Palestinian leaders soon, to be followed by a visit by President Obama in the spring. While we await these visits with cautious optimism, one cannot deny that the continued dismissal of Palestinian perspective at the halls of Congress undermines the credibility of American efforts and threatens the United States’ geostrategic interest in reaching a just and lasting peace
between the Israelis and Palestinians.
We will have our differences; but that is more the reason to engage in direct and earnest dialogue. Without a comprehensive and representative outlook at the situation there can be no hope for sound policymaking. Absenting the Palestinian perspective or even using secondary or tertiary sources rather than directly using Palestinian voices defies reason. For our part, The General Delegation of the PLO to the United States is willing and ready to engage members of Congress in serious and constructive conversations in order to create a better understanding of Palestinian positions as well as the situation in our region. Only then would congressional hearings on Palestine be impartial.
Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat Chief Representative of the General Delegation of the PLO to the U.S.