Press Release
Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
May 10, 2006 - 12:00am

Washington, D.C., May 11 -- The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) held a briefing today in Washington, D.C. featuring three senior Palestinian leaders currently visiting the United States: Yasser Abed Rabbo, member of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee and former minister of communication; Nabil Amr, former minister of communication and parliamentary affairs; and Ziad Abu Amr, elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and former minister of culture.

The three speakers analyzed the grave current situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and offered limited options for the Palestinians, given the current conditions. All three agreed that the model of unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza could not be applied to the West Bank since the withdrawal from Gaza had been total in a territorial sense, while the planned withdrawal from the West Bank would as Abed Rabbo said "at best slice the West Bank into two or three separate cantons with Israel retaining control over East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley." Adding to Abed Rabbo, Abu-Amr said, "Palestinians are not objecting to Israeli withdrawals, but to the prejudicing of any hope for negotiations through predetermining Jerusalem and borders." All three speakers also called on Israel to at the very least resume backchannel talks or unofficial contacts with the Palestinians. Referring to the possibility of Israel and the United States negotiating with Palestinian president Abbas instead of Hamas, Nabil Amr said that Hamas would not obstruct the Fatah leadership from negotiating with Israel. He added that newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert could use "the new direction and coalition in Israel to restart negotiations with the Palestinians."

None of the speakers felt that the Palestinian side had many viable options for the immediate future. Abu-Amr said that available options were "each one worse than the next," and that it was an issue of "damage control more than options." The immediate task at hand for Palestinians all agreed, was to prevent the Palestinian situation from an imminent collapse.


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