October 30, 2013 -- The Obama administration and the President personally remain fully committed to the creation of an independent Palestinian state White House Middle East Coordinator Philip Gordon told a capacity-crowd of 650 at last night's 10th Anniversary Gala of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) in Washington, DC. Dr. Gordon read a letter of congratulations and support that had already been delivered to ATFP from Pres. Barack Obama. Pres. Obama wrote he was " pleased to have a partner" in ATFP in the "vision for peace." He reaffirmed his commitment that, "The Palestinian people must have a right to govern themselves and reach their full potential in a sovereign state of their own." "Peace is necessary, peace is just, and peace is possible," Pres. Obama wrote in his letter.
Dr. Gordon, who is Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region, said ATFP embodies the vision that the President outlined in his Jerusalem speech in which he urged civil society and ordinary people that they "must create the change that you want to see." He praised the efforts of the Task Force and its leadership for its determined support for peace based on a two-state solution. He reaffirmed that any Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement must be based on the 1967 borders with mutually agreed-upon land swaps
Dr. Gordon also strongly reiterated the United States' firm opposition to continued Israeli settlement activity, which he deemed "illegitimate," and denounced settler violence against Palestinians. Regarding negotiations, he said that while it was vital to keep the substance confidential, all final status issues were on the table and being discussed. Dr. Gordon also strongly endorsed Palestinian institution-building and economic development programs, stressing that the United States was working with partners in the Gulf region and others to help Palestinians continue to develop their society in preparation for independence.
A typically distinguished gathering of community members, senior officials, policy experts and journalists joined together to celebrate the organization's first decade of advocacy and policy work on behalf of peace in Palestine, and to honor the contributions of distinguished Palestinian Americans. ATFP Pres. Ziad Asali presented the group's first ever Lifetime Achievement Award to Jesse and Maria Aweida. Other honorees included Mr. Talat Othman for excellence in business and finance, Rep. Justin Amash for distinguished public service and Prof. Saliba Sarsar for excellence in academics. A special recognition was also presented to the songwriting collaborative "My Favorite Enemy."
The evening was capped off by a special concert by the Syrian-American pianist, composer and humanitarian Malek Jandali, who is currently engaged in "The Voice of Free Syrian Children" tour. ATFP is proud to be a partner in this important effort, the proceeds of which are entirely devoted to providing relief to the orphaned and suffering children of Syria. Mr. Jandali's brilliant performance received a prolonged standing ovation from the audience.
Earlier in the evening, ATFP also premiered a wide-ranging video retrospective of its first decade entitled "I Can See Palestine…" The Task Force thanks Gala participants for their attendance, Pres. Obama for his letter, Dr. Gordon for his remarks, its honorees for their contributions to our society and the world, and Mr. Jandali for his artistry and public-spirited humanitarian project.
With this 10th Anniversary Gala, ATFP is proud to inaugurate its second decade of advocacy and policy work in behalf of peace and looks forward to another 10 years in which, with the help of people of goodwill the world over, the state of Palestine alongside Israel can, in fact, be created.