Bitterlemons (Interview)
July 4, 2011 - 12:00am

an interview with Hanna Amireh

bitterlemons: When the Palestine Liberation Organization decided last week to go ahead with its plan to seek statehood at the United Nations, was there great discussion about the issue?

Amireh: The meeting decided on a general direction of seeking recognition of the Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, first at the Security Council and also at the General Assembly. Of course, there was a discussion and different positions presented, but the general consensus was to support the move.

bitterlemons: Was there a discussion of the risks involved?

Amireh: Of course, there are the signs that the United States might wield its veto over any resolution proposed at the Security Council. Also, there is the possibility that [the US] might stop its financial support of the Palestinian Authority if the Security Council is asked for recognition, and pressure countries that support the Palestinian cause. Additionally, there is the danger that the US might stop its [economic] support for the United Nations as a result.

There are also risks from the Israeli side, that Israel might stop transferring Palestinian tax revenues to the Authority, or apply pressure in other ways by advancing settlements or canceling agreements. This is near-certain because the occupation is not going to give up its control easily.

But because there are no serious negotiations to end the occupation and this path seems entirely closed, we [decided we] need to turn to the international community.

bitterlemons: Are their plans to prepare for those risks?

Amireh: There are, of course, preparations being made and studies carried out regarding how to meet these risks.

bitterlemons: What is your personal opinion about this initiative?

Amireh: I believe that, because the negotiations have reached a cul-de-sac, and the US role has obviously failed to produce a solution to the Palestinian issue or place any pressure on Israel, the way to negotiations is closed and it is up to us to study other means. Turning to the UN puts the Palestinian cause in a new context, one that is conducive to the Palestinian people, and I think this is important.

bitterlemons: There have been reports that countries close to Palestinians, for example Jordan, are opposed to this move. Is this correct, and what does that mean for the initiative?

Amireh: Usually Jordan supports the Palestinian position. If there is some discussion between Jordan and the Palestinian leadership, that discussion is internal and not in the press.

bitterlemons: How do the recent protest movements, for example the flotilla that is trying now to sail to Gaza and the Nakba and Naksa demonstrations earlier this year and other future activities, affect the plans to head to the UN?

Amireh: The initiative [to go to the UN] is a popular act and shows support for Palestinian policies at the UN. We are asking civil society organizations and other groups, both Palestinian and international (especially in the Arab world and Europe), to support this move. The Arab-related decisions at the UN were a result of the quest for human rights and freedom, and this should also be applied to Palestinians.

bitterlemons: So you don't see these protests as a negative influence on the process?

Amireh: No, not at all. These demonstrations are political, popular movements that apply pressure in support of our cause.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017