Within the events of "Palestinians in the Diaspora between Theory and Practice: Role, Representation, and Challenges" workshop that is jointly organized by Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad (PCPA), a session was held under the title "Legal, Political and Historical Dimensions of the Palestinian Elections and Representations" was held on Saturday, February 1st, 2020, in Istanbul.
Qasim: We call for National Council elections that represent the entire Palestinian community.
"before Oslo phase, the founders of Palestinian Liberation Organization were fully aware of the democratic and main governance tools, as they were also aware of refugees and homelessness that Palestinians were passing through. However, these circumstances have been reflected in the texts contained in the statute of the organization," said the legal expert Dr. Anis Qasim.
"They were determined to establish organizations by all Palestinians wherever they can be. That is why, they announced that only Palestinians are allowed to be part of the organization, and the general text of the organization was not related to specifications such as the addresses of Palestinians, which means they are all included without any exclusion and without any intervention from anyone, country or even side. Thereafter, they announced that all Palestinians are members of the organization and nobody needs to apply to join it or submit forms that have to be filled out in order to be accepted as a member in the organization," Qasim added.
He pointed out that "because of the exceptional circumstances that Palestinians abroad passed through, this organization had become the main representative, and therefore, no election was held until June 1967 defeat. During that time,, the representation of the council changed from Palestinian individuals to Palestinian resistant factions that repelled the occupational army through thw armed struggle. These factions still represent the national council despite giving up the armed struggle since they were involved in the tracks of negotiations that were kicked off in Oslo."
He affirmed that after Oslo phase and after the recognition of an Israeli state and accepting the division of Palestinian people to Palestinians home and and abroad, thus excluding Palestinians inside 1948 borders from the Palestinian issue, the situation has been dedicated on coping with elections as a matter of inside Palestinians at home, consequently those people have become the only ones who are allowed to vote and be a part of the autonomous authority, albeit Palestinians abroad remained as a part of the organization."
He also pointed out that "the current experience has been proved to be the most corrupt, and the Palestinian scene has beem looking like a caricature drenched in sorrow, sadness and delusion".
Anis argued that "the best alternative is to hold elections of the national council that has to be acquiring its legitimacy from all Palestinians at home and abroad if we really want to have a national program that is extracted from the past experiences and developing appropriate strategies."
Quigley: There must be a united voice for Palestinians abroad
Talking about Trump's plan, professor Jan Quigley from Ohio State University argued that "this plan proposes a few territories, so this little space will not accommodate everyone and in this case, there will be no return for all Palestinian Arabs to that Palestinian state and their return will be dependent on Israeli security."
He pointed out that "this version of return is an extremist version that Netanyahu has been supporting for many years, especially the issue of not returning to the 1948 lands which are controlled by Israel, instead, the return would be only to a Palestinian state that is to be founded."
He noted that "what was discussed in this conference must be a unified voice for immigrant Palestinians, as this voice which is missed in all discussions should be audibly mentioned."
"Years ago, I was involved in monitoring the legal status of the negotiations and there was no communication between Arab Palestinians in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. However, I think it is a good idea if all Palestinians could communicate with each other. There is no legal problem in this matter," he added.
He stressed that "from the logistical perspective, the Palestinian people can find it difficult to do so, but this matter is very important, and there may be some sanctions that governments living on their lands may have but there are no obstacles in international law among refugees to coordinate with each other and this will be very important, and these refugees might be given a direct voice in this matter and it is important to the government of Palestine to realize the importance of this situation and secure the right of return."
Erekat: The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) must Oppose Deal of the Century
"Based on the recent developments in the United States, we can say that nothing happened by chance. The United States has already been determined to deal with Israel as an important ally in the Middle East, given the American broader imperial vision of the Middle East," Nora Erekat from the University of Rutgers said.
Nora also mentioned the increasing rigidity of American policies and the pursuit of opponents or critics of the American policy towards the Palestinian cause, stressing the pursuit of universities and entities that take acts in solidarity with Palestine, beside punishing those who sympathize with the BDS.”
She affirmed that "we must understand these conditions at the current moment in order to avoid and override the power of the Israeli lobby, because the Israeli lobby in America is not strong, but there are common imperial interests between Israelis and Americans. They have common goals in the Middle East, therefore, they do this."
"We need to understand that PLO should oppose what is going on and delegitimize colonialism and that this opposition shall undermine the American interest. The organization was before opposing this type of domination by European countries and the United States," she added.
She pointed out that "Palestinians can agree on paper similar to what Africans in South Africa declared to support their movement."
Saleh: We Need a Political Leadership for the Entire Palestinian People
Dr. Mohsen Saleh, director of Al-Zaytouna Center for Research and Studies, spoke about "a general vision of Palestinians abroad and their role in the Palestinian equation, historically and currently," nothinf that the term "Palestinians Abroad"was first used after 1967.
"We need a political leadership that represents the entire Palestinian people, and free national decision makers, because the role of the leadership is essential and vital in the equation. The process of marginalization, exclusion and Oslo accords are crimes against Palestine and its historical issue... Having a national project under the eyes of the occupation is another crime," he added.
Under the title "Palestinians in the Diaspora between Theory and Practice: Role, Representation, and Challenges", started on Saturday, February 1st, 2020, the activities of the workshop that is organized by Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad (PCPA), with the participation of a group of Palestinian researchers, academitians and politicians from more than 16 countries, at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, Istanbul.
The workshop which is scheduled to end on Sunday, is meant to discuss the role of Palestinians abroad and political representation. The activities include six sessions that are supposed to come up with practical recommendations.