On 31 October 2020, the Popular Conference for Palestinians Abroad (PCPA) organized a seminar titled “Absent or Absented: Palestinians Abroad and the National Project,” hosting a number of researchers and specialists.
The seminar is part of the “Priorities of the Palestinian Cause in the Upcoming Phase and the Anticipated Role of Palestinians Abroad” conference organized by PCPA today in Istanbul.
Saleh: Palestinians abroad are Palestinians’ strategic space
Dr. Mohsen Saleh, Director General of Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, said that Palestinian people are still living their cause, generation after generation. They are self-aware and, in turn, pass this awareness down to other generations.
In his statement, Saleh presented the Palestinians abroad vision of themselves, the national project and its reflection on the struggle, stressing that there is a “real awareness in Palestinian gatherings of the Palestinian identity, and this awareness is the basis for carrying the Palestinian cause abroad, and transforming the tragedy of asylum into an environment for positive action.”
Saleh said that Palestinians abroad represent the strategic space for the Palestinian people, to define Palestine and interact with it and to urge the reaction of Arab, Islamic, international and humanitarian environment to the Palestinian cause.
"Palestinians abroad are the ones who will guide the nation to confront the Zionist project that targets Palestinians and the Arab nation."
He also laid down several recommendations concerning the role and responsibilities of Palestinians abroad, as they must work:
"to preserve the identity and belonging to the land and people of Palestine, benefit from their energies, restore the official political incubator and independent Palestinian decision-making and their role in the struggle, and organize logistic support for the interior in a more effective manner, organize Palestinians abroad, and create democratic environments to activate all capabilities of Palestinians, deepen the Arab and Islamic dimension and the various incubators of the cause and resist normalization.”
Atawnah: Practical steps are required to reshape the Palestinian political establishment
Dr. Ahmad Atawnah, Director of the Vision Center for Political Development presented a paper on “Diaspora and the Palestinian Political Program between Annulment and Marginalization,” in which he referred to the role of the Palestinian diaspora in relation the Palestinian national action and the establishment of resistance, as well as its effective contribution to crystallizing the Palestinian identity and mobilizing financial, political and moral support for the Palestinian cause.
Regarding the political program, Atawnah pointed out that Palestinians abroad have a place in the program of liberation, return, and resistance.
He noted that the Palestinian national movement and the leadership of the Palestinian factions "suffered from a persistent problem in managing the conflict with the enemy, which is the inability, omission, or lack of attention to the comprehensive management of the conflict at all levels and in all arenas."
"Hamas was able to restore the effective role of the diaspora’s resistance, but it did not find a political formula capable of absorbing and activating the energies of Palestinian people abroad. This marginalization resulted from negligence, not form political considerations."
Concerning the settlement program, he stressed that the Palestinian diaspora was not part of the political project based on the two-state solution, and “thus the marginalization of diaspora's role within this program was deliberate.”
He added that efforts must be made to,
"Face marginalization and cancellation by redefining the role and changing the philosophy of work for the Palestinian cause and moving from the mode of support to the that of the owner and pioneer of the cause and the project, seriously contribute to crystallizing an inclusive national project that is qualified to fulfil national rights and absorb all the components of the Palestinian people, to pressure, and with practical steps, reshape the Palestinian political establishment.”
Khoury: Palestinians abroad have an important role to play in supporting the Palestinian cause in the countries where they reside
In a paper titled "Palestinians Abroad and Challenges to Place and Citizenship," Sama’an Khoury, President of the Palestinian Federation in Latin America, indicated that Palestinian people can transform the challenges that the Palestinian cause is going through into opportunities to restore importance to the national project.
Khoury stressed that the policy of negotiations with the occupation has failed to restore Palestinian rights, and that Palestinians abroad have an important role to play in supporting the Palestinian cause in the countries where they reside.
He noted that the Palestinian issue is going through a dangerous phase, given the deal of the century, the annexation plans and normalization, which aim to liquidate the rights of the Palestinian people and build alliances in the region that support the occupation.
He also stressed the need to end the Palestinian division, rebuild the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and agree on a unified comprehensive national strategy that supports resistance in all its forms.
"There is no contradiction between citizenship and non-Palestinian nationality, and preserving the Palestinian national identity, the culture and national role is necessary for the continuation of the conflict and victory.”
Abdul Rahman: The liberation of Palestine and the return of refugees are the basis of any unified Palestinian action
The Palestinian militant and member of PCPA’s General Assembly, Dr. Khairulddin Abdul Rahman, said that despite the obstacles faced by Palestinians abroad, they still held to the right of return.
Abdul Rahman reiterated the central role of Palestinians abroad in launching the Palestinian struggle, resisting the Israeli occupation, and making great sacrifices.
Abdul Rahman stressed the need to rebuild the PLO with its National Council, which he considered to have turned into a "mummy", as well as renew the legitimacy of Palestinian institutions by adhering to the values that unite the Palestinian people.
"The reunification of the Palestinian people is based on our right to the entirety of our homeland, its liberation, and the return of our people to their homeland, and this is the basis of any unitary action and any renewal of any Palestinian legitimacy.”