Monday, December 24, 2007

Meeting with the Palestinian National Authority

Leaving the Mount of Olives, we travelled north through occupied Palestinian territory to Ramallah, the administrative capital of Palestine. Ramallah is a bustling, if dirty, city, with plenty of evidence of construction and other economic activity. We visited the impressive memorial to Nobel Peace Prize winner Yasser Arafat, and met with His Excellency Rafiq Husseini, chief of staff to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr Husseini is a gifted leader and thinker, and it impressed me that he has chosen to remain in Palestine when many alternative avenues must have been open to him. He is also a Christian. His was perhaps the most comprehensive and cogent briefing that we received during our visit to Israel and Palestine.

Essentially, Mr Husseini impressed on us the following points:

1. Israel must withdraw to the original Green Line, leaving Palestine with 22 per cent of the whole territory of Israel/Palestine (although Israel regards this as untenable).

2. Israel must stop building new settlements, and enlarging existing settlements, in the West Bank.

3. Israel must not become a Jewish state, and Palestine must not become a Muslim state.

Something of his recent thinking on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is published at the following locations:

1. Main street in Ramallah.
2. The delegation approaches the new Memorial to Yasser Arafat, adjacent to the Palestinian National Authority building.
3. Interior of the Memorial.
4. The delegation in discussion with His Excellency Rafiq Husseini, at the Palestinian National Authority.

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