American Palestinians open homes to PLO delegation amid threat to close US office

A woman walks past the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington on November 19, 2017. (REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)
Updated 20 November 2017
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American Palestinians open homes to PLO delegation amid threat to close US office

AMMAN: Palestinian Americans have offered to open their homes to the Palestinian delegation in Washington if the US government follows through on its threat to close the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) mission.

A meeting of the Palestinian community in New Jersey turned into a public vote of confidence in the work of the delegation, those attending told Arab News.

Khader El-Yateem, pastor of the Salam Arabic Lutheran Church and a Palestinian community leader in Brooklyn, made the accommodation offer to Husam Zomlot, head of the Palestinian delegation in the US.

“We told Ambassador Zomlot that the homes of half a million Palestinian Americans and many others will be open to him and his staff if the US decides to permanently close the PLO mission in Washington, D.C.,” El-Yateem told Arab News.

Despite the closure threat, the PLO office in Washington, D.C. was functioning normally on Monday morning. Under US law, for the office to operate the Secretary of State must certify every six months that the PLO has complied with conditions imposed by Congress. The latest six-month period finished last Thursday.

The State Department said permission was not renewed because of a speech by President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN General Assembly in September, in which he suggested taking the issue of Israeli settlements to the International Criminal Court. The threat of closure is also aimed at persuading the Palestinians to enter talks with Israel within 90 days.

“This is a typical example of the blackmail and extortion that the US-Israeli alliance has exercised against the Palestinians since the beginning of the so-called ‘peace process’ over a quarter of a century ago,” Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, told Arab News.

Professor Khalidi called on Palestinians to depart from the “endless hamster wheel” and admit that the temporary solutions of the Oslo Accords had failed. “The Palestinians should treat the US as what it is, a dishonest broker that is the closest ally of Israel. They should only agree to enter negotiations under neutral international auspices, and on the basis of all relevant UN resolutions, going back to those of 1947 and 1948,” he said.

In Palestine, Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO executive committee, said: “Instead of holding Israel liable for its persistent violations of international law and conventions, the US administration and Congress are threatening to punish the Palestinian people because of statements made by President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations, and by other leaders, pertaining to ICC accountability for Israel and for its war crimes in Palestine.

“It is ironic that the US is taking steps to punish the victim and not the perpetrator of the crime.”

The PLO continued to be placed on probation and unfairly judged while Israel was given preferential treatment and license to act with impunity, Ashrawi said. “If President Donald Trump decides not to renew the waiver after 90 days, the US will embolden Israel even further and provide it with greater cover for its lack of compliance and unilateral actions.”


Qatari tribe continues campaign for justice at UN in Geneva

Updated 21 September 2018
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Qatari tribe continues campaign for justice at UN in Geneva

  • Al-Ghufran traibe present their case in front of the international community to hold Qatar accountable
  • The tribe revealed the crimes against humanity committed by Qatari authorities

GENEVA: Members of a tribe persecuted for more than 20 years by authorities in Qatar appealed for help on Friday from the special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
It was the latest stage in a campaign for justice by the Al-Ghufran tribe, whose members have been stripped of their nationality and suffered torture, forced displacement and deportation.
A delegation from the tribe has taken their case to the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. They said they sought international assistance only after years of being ignored by the government of Qatar, and when they realized that the Qatari Human Rights Council was in league with the regime in Doha to deny them their rights as Qatari citizens.
A member of the tribe, Gaber Saleh Al-Ghufrani, also appealed to the people of Qatar for help. “We call on the elders of the honorable Al-Thani family and to the generous and righteous people of Qatar and to the Al Murrah tribe, known for their nobility and chivalry,” he said.
“We call on you as your brothers, young and old, elders and children, men and women, inside and outside Qatar, and we appeal to your proud Arab origin because the Qatari government has let us down, made untrue claims about us and stripped us of our rights.
“We have been subjected to much injustice and humiliation in our homeland from those who, unfortunately, we thought to be virtuous. We have been discriminated against in the most painful of ways; they have stripped us of our dignity.
“We chose to go to the United Nations and to the international human rights organizations only after the government of our own country closed all ways of appeal, and did not engage or listen to our demands.”
The tribe’s ordeal began in 1996, when some of their members voiced support for Sheikh Khalifa Al-Thani, the Qatari emir deposed the previous year by his son Hamad, father of the current emir, Sheikh Tamim.
About 800 Al-Ghufran families, more than 6,000 people, were stripped of their citizenship and had their property confiscated. Many remain stateless, both in Qatar and in neighboring Gulf countries.
“They have taken away our social, political and economic rights,” said
Jabir bin Saleh Al-Ghufrani, a tribal elder, at a press conference on Thursday. “The Al-Ghufran tribe has been subjected to unjust treatment.
“I left on a vacation in 1996, and now I can never go back to my country. I can go to any place on this earth, but not my home, not Qatar.”
Members of the delegation produced passports, certificates and other documents to show that their right to Qatari citizenship was being denied.
“I ask for my rights. Our people have been asking for our rights for a very long time now and no one has even explained to us why this is happening to us,” said Hamad Khaled Al-Araq.
Another member of the tribe, Hamad Khaled Al-Marri, said on Friday:
“Our issue with the Qatar regime is purely humanitarian and not political, this is why we came here to present our case and our demands to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Our demands are clear: The Qatar regime should be held accountable for the crimes that it has committed against us and other Qataris, and the restoration of our rights.”