Though I wasn’t able to attend the J Street conference last week, I’ve been happy so many video clips of conference sessions have been made available through the internet. The most posted and retweeted by far: Mona Eltahawy’s show-stopping remarks from the February 27 Plenary Session.
I’d also recommend this panel from the Feb. 28 session, “The Continued Quest for Statehood: A Palestinian View” (above) which featured PLO Ambassador Maen Areikat, Amjad Atallah, of the Middle East Task Force, New America Foundation, Khaled Elgindy, (Brookings Institution) and Nadia Bilbassy-Charters (Middle East Broadcasting Center).
Here’s an excerpt from Atallah’s remarks:
What the Palestinians seek is freedom. Statehood is only the outcome of freedom. Statehood is only a way of delivering that freedom. Delivering a state that doesn’t have that freedom, which is part of the political discourse in Washington these days, is a sure way of ensuring that statehood ends up being rejected. Palestinians don’t want to end up with a state that looks exactly like what they have right now. The don’t want a state that looks 10% bigger than what they have right now…
The surest way to know what Palestinians will accept or what they will reject is simply to ask yourself, would you accept the terms that are being offered to Palestinians? If you would accept it, then Palestinians should be fair enough to accept it. But if you think it’s insulting or if you think you would never accept such a thing, then you can bet your last dollar that the Palestinians aren’t going to accept it either. And despite all the criticism of the PLO, it has refused to accept anything less than freedom from the beginning of the negotiations process until now.