Greetings from your compatriots across the Atlantic. We support your initiative which is echoed by Palestinians all over the world.
As always, but especially these days, our enemies are waging a relentless war against the Palestinian people. This is an extension of the colonial war which started in 1916 and an extension of the ethnic cleansing war of 1948 which is still going on ferociously.
This is not a metaphor. Ethnic cleansing, bordering on genocide in many instances, is waged against us, everyday, everywhere, destroying every aspect of decent life and depriving us of most elemental freedom.
But we have not surrendered. We still stand tall. How did we do that? First, we have the power of perseverance and steadfastness (sumoud). This is because we believe in our eternal bond with our land and our inalienable rights in it.
Second, we have the legitimacy derived from our historical roots, from international law and with the support of the majority of the world. Our enemies do not have legitimacy. They only have the gun. The gun can fall or backfire. The legitimacy is permanent.
Our legitimacy is affirmed by over 100 nations which recognized PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. Palestine National Council (PNC) is the voice of all Palestinians, symbolizing their unity. PNC is the source of our sovereignty, the arbiter of our destiny and the guardian of our rights, especially the Right of Return.
This solid rock of our rights is being marginalized, even attacked. This is how:
For about 20 years, since the last PNC meeting of 1988, there was no clear representation in PNC. Numbers swelled to 700 arbitrarily or according to political ulterior motives.
During this period, many fatal decisions were taken. Now the situation is worse. So called “Settlement” plans, are being hatched by US-Israeli alliance and promoted by present Palestinian leadership without our consent, let alone our knowledge. If this succeeds, God forbid, the Right of Return will be the first victim.
Palestinians are very angry. The Right of Return Congress held, or participated in, many community meetings over the last 18 months.
These were held in Emirates, Kuwait, Egypt, Lebanon and Europe. I met with you at the San Francisco 4th annual Al-Awda conference. I met with the twelve factions in Damascus and held two private meetings in Amman in the last two months. We also held consultations with our people in Palestine 1948.
All, I repeat all, insist that we have to have the deciding voice in our destiny, that we must have a clean, lean democratically elected PNC representing Palestinians everywhere according to their numbers, with no bias or selective partisan choice.
The Council should have 250 members or a maximum of 300. Thirty percent should come from West Bank and Gaza according to population number. They could be the present members of the Legislative Council according to Palestine law. Seventy percent, that is us, are in Palestine 1948, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, in other Arab countries, in Europe and America.
Sounds sensible? Yes. Sounds democratic? Yes. We carried these demands, yes demands, to Salim Zanoun, the House Speaker and met him many times. I also met President Abbas, and explained the situation at length.
All we got was promises to hold elections. We were given dates. All passed without action. We were given excuses. All turned out to be lame.
We returned to our communities and they were understandably more angry and determined.
The universal demand of all is to hold a very large popular conference for Palestinians all over the world (in and outside Palestine) to voice our demands and take steps necessary to elect a representative PNC which has the power to decide our destiny. Nobody else has the Mandate to make decisions on our behalf unless authorized by PNC.
Hence your meeting today, to prepare for a popular conference, is very opportune. Similar meetings have been or are being held in other places as well.
We are well on the way to final preparations. We have secured a country to host us all, a country that will accept us regardless of the colour of our passports or with no passports at all. The Agenda will be derived from your and other deliberations. Delegates will come from all walks of life, whatever their political hue is. The important thing is democracy and their geographical distribution.
Therefore we hope your meeting will yield at least two tangible results for the guidance of your compatriots elsewhere:
- Your suggestions for the conference agenda.
- A balanced and representative (as much as possible) list of 50 delegates.
Emphasis should be on articulate, efficient and committed young people. I say young because we need those who have 30 years of Palestine service ahead of them.
Please remember that we have no use of those who put their party or self interest before Palestine. Palestine should always be first; their talent, resources, interests should be in its service.
Please also remember that what unites us is much much more than that divides us. Therefore let us put aside petty differences.
I have just come back from meetings in Europe and before that in Arab countries. I told them about your meeting. They are all anxious to hear your good news.
Palestine will live in the hearts and minds of its people, who will no doubt return to its soil.
Make that happen. God bless you.
Salman Abu Sitta