Palestinian Head of Delegation to Australia, Mr Izzat Abdulhadi: Q&A session notes
· The six final status issues are: Water, Jerusalem, Refugees, Borders, Security and Settlements. The key message from today’s event is that we all need to lobby for these issues to be resolved.
· In relation to Hamas:
o He hopes and believes in the reconciliation of Fatah and Hamas – Hamas is a pragmatic entity.
o The balance of power is not with Hamas and therefore, from Hamas’ perspective, it is not in their interest to reach an agreement with Israel. But Hamas is realising that using violence is not worth it – it comes at the expense of the Palestinian people.
o Hamas’ objective is to get international recognition.
o According to public opinion, Abbas is more popular in Gaza than in the West Bank.
· In relation to Jerusalem:
o The Palestinians are open to any one of three options in relation to the status of Jerusalem:
§ Jerusalem as a shared capital for two states, open to both Palestinians and Israelis and jointly administered by Israel and Palestine.
§ Jerusalem as an international city administered by an international body and open to all in accordance with the 1947 Partition Plan recommended by the General Assembly.
§ Jerusalem as two capitals, East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem, with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine and West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
o Israel is only open to a unified Jerusalem.
o There is no flexibility whatsoever in the Israeli position. We, including Diaspora Jews, should all play a role in convincing the Israeli Government to change its position in this regard.
· In relation to the Palestinian civil society:
o The main reason as to why the civil society was not mobilised until the 1980s, as opposed to the late 1960s, is because the early focus was solely on liberation.
o Palestinian civil society is the most thriving in the Arab world – there are strong institutions within the Palestinian civil society. In fact the Palestinian civil society has been called upon to assist other Arab civil societies.
o It is working hard against incitement at schools.
o Civil society in Gaza is strong, is doing a great job and plays a crucial role – both the secular and religious non government organisations.
· In response to the question with regards to recognising Israel as a Jewish State, Mr Abdulhadi responded that overall there are two narratives, a Palestinian and an Israeli. Both sides need to be pragmatic and the most important thing is that there needs to be mutual recognition of secure borders.
· While both the Israeli civil society and their Palestinian counterparts are politicised, and therefore very much align themselves with their respective governments, there are nonetheless some links, including joint ventures. Of course during periods of heightened tension there is limited cooperation.
· A lot of lessons have been learnt in relation to resisting the occupation – it must always be within the parameters of international law and must not involve the use of violence.
· The moderates need to be strengthened – this in turn will strengthen the two state process.
· In relation to his optimism, Mr Abdulhadi emphasised the things that have actually been achieved thus far such as:
o Agreement that a two state solution is the only way forward – this includes the recognition that there is such an entity as Palestine.
o Agreement on the principle of territorial compromise.
o Clarity and recognition of the positions of each ‘side’.
· The Arab League offer of full recognition and relationship in exchange for 1967 borders.
o Mr Abdulhadi suggested not just looking at the negatives, for example the Hamas dominance in Gaza, but engaging creatively to find solutions now that there have been achievements such as those already mentioned.