Palestine

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Overview

Encompassing what was once commonly known as the “Occupied Territories,” Palestine today serves as the home for nearly four million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It has long been the source of considerable violence and turmoil between Palestinians and Israelis, who until the 1990s ruled over Gaza and the West Bank. The plight of the Palestinians since World War II has been lamented by many in the West, including in the United States. Official policy out of Washington, DC, has historically favored Israel and supported Israeli defense policy, even when military actions threatened Palestinian human rights. Beginning in the late 1980s, a violent rebellion within the occupied territories, plus a public shift in PLO rhetoric, moved Israeli and Palestinian officials to negotiate the establishment of limited sovereignty for Palestinians over their own affairs. Even with the creation of the Palestinian Authority, troubles and violence continue to plague the region, especially after Hamas gained control of Gaza’s government operations. Rocket attacks by Hamas into Israeli territory prompted a large-scale military response by Israel’s air force beginning December 27, 2008,. On January 3, 2009, the Israeli army launched a ground invasion of northern Gaza. Estimates of the number of Palestinian fatalities vary, but are generally considered to be about 1,400.

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Palestine consists of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Gaza is a coastal strip of land along the Mediterranean Sea bordered by Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the north and east. It is about 25 miles long and 4–7.5 miles wide. The West Bank is entirely landlocked and approximately the size of Delaware. It is bordered by Jordan to the east and by Israel to the north, south and west.

 
Population: 1.5 million in the Gaza Strip, 2.4 million in the West Bank (and approximately 300,000 Israeli settlers)
 
Religions: Gaza Strip: Muslim (predominantly Sunni) 99.3%, Christian 0.7%. 
West Bank: Muslim (predominantly Sunni) 75%, Jewish (Israeli settlers) 17%, Christian and other 8%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Gaza Strip: Palestinian Arab. 
West Bank: Palestinian Arab and other Arab 83%, Jewish 17%.
 
Languages: Arabic, Hebrew (widely spoken by many Palestinians), English (widely understood).
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History
From 1923 to 1948, Britain controlled what was then known as Palestine (which included modern day Israel). In August 1947, the United Nations proposed dividing Palestine into two countries—one Jewish state, one Arab—but leaders of Arab nations rejected this idea. The UN approved the creation of Israel, and once Britain pulled out of the country, neighboring Arab nations invaded, intent on crushing Israel. The new Jewish state managed to repel the attacks and secure its autonomy. The remaining areas of Palestine were divided up, with the West Bank going to Jordan and the Gaza Strip to Egypt.
For the next two decades, Jordan attempted to serve as the unofficial representative of the Palestinian people. Frustration over the state of Palestinians, many of whom lived in refugee camps, led to the formation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964, with Yassar Arafat in control of the PLO’s largest faction, Fatah.
 
Following the second Arab-Israeli War in 1956, leaders of Israel found themselves facing the prospect of another invasion by its neighbors in 1967. But instead of waiting for Egypt, Syria, and Jordan to attack, Israeli defense forces launched a preemptive strike that was so thorough that Israel won the conflict in only six days. Israel expanded its territory as a result of the six-day war, gaining control of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, along with East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and all of the Sinai Peninsula. The UN adopted Security Council Resolution 242 calling for peace in the Middle East and the return of the Occupied Territories to Israeli’s Arab neighbors. Israel refused to comply, and over time allowed Jewish settlers to establish new communities in the Occupied Territories.
 
Unrest among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip led to the beginning of the intifada in 1987, an uprising that produced numerous violent confrontations between Palestinians and Israelis over the next several years. The intifada also gave birth to Hamas, an organization committed to violent confrontation with Israel, which gained support from Palestinians and other Arabs who had grown weary of the PLO’s efforts.
In 1988, PLO leader Arafat, who had spent decades battling Israel and calling for the destruction of the Jewish state, publicly renounced terrorism and officially recognized the state of Israel. This move helped pave the way for secret talks between Israeli and PLO negotiators, which eventually resulted in the Oslo Accord signed in 1993. The accord stipulated a five-year plan in which Palestinians of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would gradually become self-governing. As part of the agreement, Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip and Jericho in the West Bank in 1994. The Palestinian Authority (PA), with Arafat as its elected leader, took control of the newly non-Israeli-occupied areas, assuming all governmental duties.
Arafat insisted, however, that the Palestinian Authority also take control of East Jerusalem, which Israel refused to cede. Negotiations between the two sides went nowhere, and in September 2000, violence again erupted between Palestinians and Israelis, including suicide bombings against Jewish locations and reprisals by the Israeli military. In 2002, Israeli troops surrounded Yasir Arafat at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon blamed Arafat for allowing Hamas terrorists to attack Israelis and called for his expulsion from the territories. The IDF besieged Arafat’s headquarters for five months.
 
In March 2003, Arafat agreed to political reforms within the PA to share power with a prime minister. Mahmoud Abbas, second-in-command of the PLO, assumed the post. Unlike Arafat, Abbas emphatically rejected the Palestinian intifada, but he had no influence or control over Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups. Israel, meanwhile, refused not only to dismantle Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, but also continued to build a controversial “security barrier” dividing Israeli and Palestinian areas. Abbas resigned in September 2003, and Arafat appointed a new prime minister, Ahmed Qurei. The violence from the second intifada lasted four years, until 2004, killing almost 4,000, including nearly 3,000 Palestinians.
 
On March 22, 2004, Israel assassinated Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas. The attack cumulated a six-month period during which Israel killed more than 20 Hamas officials and vowed to destroy the entire leadership. In July, Israel revised the route of its security barrier so that it no longer cut into Palestinian land. Four months later, Arafat died, marking the end of an era in Palestinian affairs. He was succeeded by former Prime Minister Abbas as president of the PA. At a summit in February 2005, Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Sharon agreed to a cease-fire, leading to the withdrawal of 8,000 Israeli settlers from Gaza. Dense with population, Gaza gained 25% more land as a result of the Israeli withdrawal.
 
Hopes for continued peace between Palestinians and Israelis were dashed with the January 2006 elections in the PA, which resulted in a landslide victory for Hamas over Arafat’s long dominant Fatah party. Hamas won 74 of the 132 parliamentary seats, giving Ismail Haniya, a centrist Hamas leader, the seat of prime minister. Although Hamas had been engaged in a cease-fire with Israel for more than a year, it continued to call for Israel’s destruction and refused to renounce violence. As a result, Western donor countries cut off direct aid to the Hamas-run government, leading to a humanitarian crisis that saw 70% of Gaza’s population lacking enough food.
 
In June 2006, the yearlong cease-fire with Israel ended. After Hamas militants killed two Israeli soldiers and kidnapped another, Israel launched air strikes and sent ground troops into Gaza, destroying its only power plant and three bridges. Israel also arrested many of Hamas’ elected officials. Fighting continued in July, with Hamas firing rockets into Israel, and Israeli troops killing about 200 Palestinians.
By the end of the year, Hamas and Fatah turned on each other. Street fights and shootings broke out between the various factions in Gaza for more than a week until a ceasefire called by President Abbas (Fatah) and Prime Minister Haniya (Hamas). In March 2007, the leaders of Hamas and Fatah finally agreed on a coalition government, which Parliament later approved. But the Hamas-dominated government still did not recognize Israel or renounce violence. Fighting between Hamas and Fatah erupted again in June 2007, with Hamas effectively taking control of the Gaza Strip. In response, President Abbas dissolved the government, fired Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, and declared a state of emergency. Salam Fayyad, an economist, took over as interim prime minister, while Abbas and Fatah tried to maintain control over the West Bank. In an effort to boost Abbas, the United States and the European Union said they would resume direct aid to the Palestinians.
 
Political conditions between Gaza and Israel continued to be bleak, with Hamas launching rocket attacks against Jewish targets in 2007 and 2008. In December ’08, Israeli leaders ordered one of the most devastating attacks ever into Palestinian territory. Air assaults killed approximately 400 people in Gaza and wounded almost 2,000 more in just a few days of fighting. IAccording to MideastWeb, “The UN Security council issued a statement December 28 calling for both sides to stop the violence, but US objections prevented a binding cease fire resolution.” On January 3, 2009, Israeli launched a ground invasion into northern Gaza. The major fighting ended on January 18, when Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire. However Hamas rocket launchings and Israeli retaliations continued until after Israeli elections took place on February 10, 2009.
 
In August 2009, Fatah called for peace and a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The statement insisted on the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their old homes on what is now Israeli soil. This came during a party convention marked by a change in support among the Fatah leadership, generally in favor of a younger generation of leaders. Marwan Barghouti, who has been cited as a critic of the party establishment, was elected into the 23-member Fatah Central Committee with the third-most votes. Ahmed Qureia, a former Palestinian Authority prime minister and aide to Yasser Arafat, failed to earn reelection.
The Israeli government continues to fund construction in West Bank settlements to account for what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called “natural growth.”
Palestine Facts (PalestineFacts.org)
Israeli and Palestinian Historical Narratives (by the Peace Research Institute in the Middle East) (pdf)
Palestine (Wikipedia)

Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories: Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (pdf) 

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History of U.S. Relations with Palestine

Palestinian concerns have often taken a back seat to the United States’ commitment to Israel. Although American policymakers have expressed concerns over the state of affairs for those living in what was once known as the Occupied Territories, the US has consistently backed Israel in the course of discussions over what to do with a Palestinian state. From the 1960s through most of the 1980s, Washington echoed Israel’s view that Yassar Arafat first had to go, or the PLO had to stop committing acts of terrorism, before any recognition would be given to a Palestinian state.

 
In October 1991, the US helped arrange the Madrid Conference, in which Israeli, Lebanese, Jordanian, Syrian, and Palestinian leaders laid the foundations for ongoing negotiations designed to bring peace and economic development to the region. Within this framework, Israel and the PLO signed a Declaration of Principles on September 13, 1993, which established a set of objectives relating to a transfer of authority from Israel to the Palestinian Authority. Israel and the PLO subsequently signed the Gaza-Jericho Agreement and the Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities which began the process of transferring authority from Israel to the Palestinians. On October 26, 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a historic peace treaty, witnessed by President Bill Clinton.
 
The United States began providing assistance for the Palestinians in 1950 with contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the international body created to provide food, shelter, medical attention, and education for the Palestinian refugees from the 1948-1949 Arab-Israeli war. In 1975, the United States began to provide foreign assistance for Palestinian projects, primarily humanitarian (child care, medical clinics) or infrastructure (clean water, roads, schools). Since 1975, about 80% of US aid funds for the Palestinians has gone through contractors and 20% has gone through private voluntary organizations (PVOs). USAID selects the contractors and PVOs monitors their projects and audits their accounts.
 
Since the signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993, the US government has committed an estimated $1.9 billion in bilateral economic assistance to the Palestinians.
 
As for Palestinian immigration to the US, only recently have immigration records included a category for Palestinians. Palestinians often arrived in America having departed from countries like Egypt or Jordan. The vast majority of Palestinians have immigrated to America since 1948, after the formation of the Israeli state. Palestinians arrived in droves in the aftermath of the 1967 War, and also arrived en masse during the late 1980s, when the Palestinian American population roughly doubled from its previous size of 90,000. Although some Palestinians emigrated for political reasons, most came in search of jobs and education. 
 
The states with the largest Palestinian American populations are California (14,523), Illinois (7,329), Florida (5,997), Texas (5,406), New York (5,222), Michigan (4,470) and New Jersey (3,991).
 
The Palestinian Territories: Background and U.S. Relations (by Paul Morro, Congressional Research Service) (pdf)
United States Aid to the Palestinians (by Clyde Mark, Congressional Research Service) (pdf)
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Current U.S. Relations with Palestine

Since the signing of the Oslo Accord, US policy toward the Palestinians has supported the establishment of a Palestinian state—but only through a negotiated two-state solution with Israel. US administrations have consistently sided with Israel in the course of addressing issues or periods of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Members of Congress have complained that US funds for Palestinian refugees channeled through the United Nations have been mismanaged or found their way into the wrong hands.

 
Among the current issues in US-Palestinian relations is how to deal with the political leadership of Palestinian society, which is divided between Fatah and its rival, Hamas, which the State Department has designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Following Hamas’ victory in the 2006 legislative election and the formation of a Hamas-led PA cabinet, the United States halted aid to the PA, but continued humanitarian aid along with efforts to bolster Fatah leader and PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
 
In June 2007, Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip leading Abbas to dissolve the government and appoint an emergency government based in the West Bank that excludes Hamas. The Bush administration then resumed aid to the new Fatah-based government, but questions remained over Fatah’s ability to govern in the West Bank and a possible humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
 
The Bush administration did not give public approval to the Israeli incursion into Gaza in December 2008-January 2009. Critics, however, have argued that US military funding to Israel helped fuel the tanks and warplanes used in the invasion.
 
For the Obama administration, stopping the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank has been a major challenge preventing US officials from bringing Palestinian and Israeli leaders to the negotiating table. In June 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated that he would not completely halt construction of new homes in settlements beyond the security barrier, in order to account for what he called “natural growth.” This includes the increase of settlement populations from new generations, as well as the influx of Israeli citizens who want to move to settlements from Israel proper.
 
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared in early November 2009 that he would not run for reelection in the forthcoming Palestinian elections. He voiced frustration after US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited the region and commended as “unprecedented” Netanyahu’s offer to slow down, but not freeze, settlement construction.
 
According to The Wall Street Journal, Palestinian officials said on November 15, 2009, that they are “considering a unilateral appeal for United Nations Security Council recognition of a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, separate from Israel.” This is another sign of the Palestinian leadership’s mounting frustration at the faltering progress of the US-led peace initiative.
 
A total of 72,112 people identified themselves as being of Palestinian origin in the 2000 US census. This number undoubtedly under-represents the Palestinian population in the US; most researchers estimate that closer to 200,000 people of Palestinian descent live in America. 
 
Palestinians Weigh U.N. Statehood Declaration (by Joshua Mitnick and Charles Levinson, Wall Street Journal)
 
 
Notable Palestinian-Americans
Edward Said (1935- 2003), Columbia professor of Comparative Literature and English, best known for his book Orientalism
Joseph Massad, Columbia professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History
DJ Khaled, hip hop DJ
Laila Al-Marayati, USC professor, chairwoman of KinderUSA and former president of the Los Angeles-based Muslim Women’s League
John H. Sununu, former governor of New Hampshire, and his son John E. Sununu, former US Senator (R-NH)
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Where Does the Money Flow

In 2008 the US exported a total of $400,000 in goods to the West Bank and Gaza, while it imported $4.9 million. This was a drastic change from the previous year, during which the US traded $17.6 million in exports and $3.6 million in imports to and from the Palestinian territories. In 2007 the US exported nearly $14 million in wheat to Palestine—$9.3 million to the West Bank and $4.6 million to the Gaza Strip. These figures coincided with a 99% increase from 2006 in US grain exports to destinations worldwide. The US, however, did not export any wheat to Palestine in 2008.

 
While US trade with the Gaza Strip was reduced in 2008 to $61,000 in exports, over half of this ($31,000) came in the form of civilian aircraft, engines, equipment and parts. Other exports included photo and service industry machinery ($11,000), household appliances ($9,000), and medicinal equipment ($7,000).
 
To the West Bank the US exported a total of $290,000, including $75,000 in unmanufactured agricultural industry, $33,000 in new and used passenger cars, $26,000 in industrial engines, and $26,000 in telecommunications equipment.
 
Of the $2.3 million in imports from the Gaza, Strip, $2.2 million came as cotton apparel and household goods. The remaining amount included stone, sand, cement, and lime ($83,000), and industrial inorganic chemicals ($13,000).
 
West Bank imports totaled $2.6 million. $904,000 was classified under “Other (tobacco, waxes, nonfood oils),” $718,000 as stone, sand, cement, and lime, $535,000 as food oils and oilseeds, and $256,000 as vegetables and preparations.
 
All trade between the US and Palestine—both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip—is administered by Israel.
 
For FY 2010, the Obama administration requested $400 million in Economic Support Funds (ESF) for the West Bank and Gaza and an additional $4.8 million in Child Survival and Health (CSH) funds.
 
The US does not give security assistance to Palestine.
 
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Controversies
The Goldstone Report
On April 3, 2009, the President of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council appointed the former Justice of South Africa, Richard Goldstone, to head the UN Fact Finding Mission, charged with investigating possible violations of international law and human rights during the December 2008-January 2009 Gaza conflict. On September 29 Goldstone and his Commission presented their 575-page report to the UN Human Rights Council, detailing the findings of the Mission.
 
The Goldstone Report, as it is now widely known, has met both criticism and support from governments and organizations around the world. Human Rights Watch, the international human rights organization, called the report “a crucial step toward securing accountability for the civilian victims of the war on all sides” and urged the UN General Assembly to endorse the report. The US House of Representatives, on the other hand, deemed the findings of the report “irredeemably biased” and, in a vote of 344-36, called on President Barak Obama to maintain his opposition to the report.
 

US House Rejects Goldstone Report (Al Jazeera) 

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Human Rights

Domestic abuse of women, societal discrimination against women and persons with disabilities, and child labor remain serious problems.

 
During Hamas’ takeover of Gaza in June 2007, armed Palestinian groups engaged in summary executions and torture and put the lives of civilians at risk. In June, 193 Palestinians were killed of which 181 were due to factional violence; 85% of Palestinians killed were in Gaza.
 
Amnesty International reported in August 2008 that at least 200 people were being detained in the Gaza Strip after a crackdown by the ruling Hamas administration on political activists and armed militia members affiliated with the Fatah party. Detainees were held incommunicado without their legal rights and many were believed to have been tortured.
 
The increasing lack of law and order in Gaza eroded public confidence in security forces, and many Palestinians sought protection by turning to individual clans and family groups. Consequently, family disputes were increasingly fatal, with 72 deaths between January 2006 and July 2007.
 
International human rights groups stated that torture was a significant problem. Torture by PA security forces and the Hamas Executive Force reportedly was widespread and not restricted to security detainees. Documentation of abuses was very limited, due partly to fear of retribution by alleged victims. Palestinian security officers have no formal guidelines regarding interrogations; convictions were based largely on confessions.
 
PA prison conditions are poor. Many prisons were destroyed during the intifada and were not reconstructed. Prisoners were kept informally incarcerated.
 
PA security forces often ignored laws by detaining persons without warrants and without bringing them before judicial authorities. PA security forces also occasionally disregarded court decisions calling for release of alleged security criminals. Suspects often were held without evidence and denied access to lawyers, families, or doctors.
 
The PA does not have laws providing for freedom of press. Palestinian media frequently published and broadcast material that included anti-Semitic content. Rhetoric by Palestinian terrorist groups included expressions of anti-Semitism, as did sermons by some Muslim religious leaders carried on the official PA television. Some Palestinian religious leaders rejected the right of Israel to exist. Hamas’ al-Aqsa television station carried shows for preschoolers extolling hatred of Jews and suicide bombings.
Human Rights Watch called on Palestinian officials in December 2008 to impose an immediate moratorium on the death penalty and eliminate its use in Palestinian law. During the year, Palestinian civil and military courts sentenced 11 people to death, including a defendant who was a child at the time of the alleged offense.
 
According to the State Department, “Palestinian labor law states that work is the right of every capable citizen and regulates the work of women. However, during the year [2008] the rate of female participation in the workforce did not exceed 14 percent compared to 67 percent for males. Women endured prejudice and repression. Cultural restrictions associated with marriage occasionally prevented women from completing mandatory schooling or attending college. Families often disowned Muslim and Christian women who married outside their faith. Local officials sometimes advised such women to leave their communities to prevent harassment.”
 
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Debate
Should the US Recognize Palestine as an Independent State?
 
Since the Palestinian National Council approved the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in Algiers on November 15, 1988, more than 100 countries have recognized the State of Palestine and some 25 others host a Palestinian delegation with official diplomatic status. Palestine is currently represented as a permanent observer member of the United Nations by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) under the name “Palestine.” The United States, however, continues to refuse Palestine diplomatic recognition as an independent state. Should it reconsider?
 
Pro
The Palestinian people deserve their own state. They have suffered incredibly in the last century and, what’s more, their subjection was created and is perpetuated by a fellow Semitic people with their own history of suffering. The US should recognize Palestine, in part because much of the rest of the world does. US recognition would likely garner support from the Arab League for achieving peace in the Middle East.
Recognition is Long Overdue (by George Thompson, Washington Report)
Palestinians Seek EU Support for Statehood (by Mohammed Daragheh, Associated Press)
 
Con
The manner in which Palestinian independence was declared does not satisfy international legal criteria and will undermine the peace process. The US should not recognize any Palestinian government before it renounces violence and is prepared to recognize Israel. The US should not recognize a Palestinian state so long as Palestinian leadership proves incapable of governing one. A unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence (i.e. without negotiations with Israel) will actually create a smaller state than one brokered through talks. The US should not recognize a unilaterally declared state because it is not in the Palestinians’ interest.
But First, Let’s Talk (by Allan Brownfeld, Washington Report)
Palestinian Disunity Has Chilling Effect on Peace Process (by Michael Sharnoff, Middle East Times)

Transforming America’s Israel Lobby: The Limits of Its Power and the Potential for Change (by Dan Fleshler, 2009) 

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Past Ambassadors
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Palestine's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Areikat, Maen Rashid

Palestine does not maintain an embassy in the US, however the Palestine Liberation Organization does operate a mission in Washington, DC.

 
Maen Rashid Areikat is currently the Chief Representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Mission to the United States.
 
Areikat was born October 12, 1960, in Jericho in the West Bank to a family influential in Palestinian and Jordanian politics. When he was 18, Areikat left Jericho for England and the US. He received his BS in Finance from Arizona State University in 1983 and his MBA in management from Western International University in 1987. He was elected president of the General Union of Palestine Students from 1981-1983 during his stay at ASU.
 
In 1992 Areikat returned to Palestine and began working with Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, the official spokeswoman of the Palestinian Delegation to the Peace Talks with Israel. He then joined the Orient House, the headquarters of the Palestinian Team to the peace talks, and, from 1993-1998, took part in Palestinian-Israel negations in Gaza, Egypt, Jerusalem and Israel.
 
Areikat became the Director-General of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO in Ramallah in 1998. In this position, he supervised the Negotiations Support Unit, which provides legal, policy, communication and technical support to the Palestinian Negotiating Teams with Israel and to the Palestinian National Authority.
 
In May 2009, Areikat joined the PLO Mission to the US. As the Chief Representative of the PLO, he serves an ambassadorial function to the US, especially concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict.
 
Areikat has a wife, Jumana, and three sons: Rashid, Saif and Amr.
 
 
Palestine’s Ambassador to the UN
 
Riyad H. Mansour is a Palestinian-American diplomat who is currently the Permanent Observer for the Mission of Palestine to the United Nations.
 
Mansour was born in 1947 in Palestine, where he spent the first 18 years of his life. His father emigrated to Youngstown, OH, and worked in the steel industry, sending money back to his family. Eventually Mansour emigrated, as well, and enrolled in Youngstown State University (YSU). At YSU, He earned a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Counseling in 1971 and 1973 respectively. Mansour went on to graduate from the University of Akron in 1977 with a Ph.D. in Guidance and Counseling.
 
 Mansour started at the United Nations in 1977 as a research advisor and later served as the Deputy Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations from 1983-1994. He then spent 11 years working in the private sector and teaching at the University of Central Florida. In 2005 the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, appointed him to succeed Nasser al-Qudwa as Permanent Observer.
 

Mansour met his wife, Caryl Mansour (formerly Caryl Galicia), at YSU when they were both students there. They have a daughter and a son.

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Palestine's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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Comments

Hinda 5 years ago
this page is filled with fiction instead of facts. first and foremost, the plo did not ratify the oslo accords which means inbasic law that there was no agreement. israel therefore did not have to give up any rights to any land, including gaza. second, jerusalem was unified in 1967. it is part of israel. it is not part of the mythical country called palestine. third, the father of modern day terrorism, the nephew of the partner of the nazis coined the term "palestinian" in 196...
Gary Schrack 6 years ago
I attended “The Palestinian-Israeli Impasse: Conflict Resolution or Crisis Management?” presentation at ASU on March 23, 2011. I am a US citizen and attended this meeting because I was interested in how a peace deal could be obtained. It was very interesting to listen to Mr. Maen Areikat. There were very good questions from the Arab Students Association and the audience. I believe Mr. Areikat answered them as truthfully and as honestly as he could. Mr. Areikat definitely wanted...

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U.S. Ambassador to Palestine

Rubinstein, Daniel
ambassador-image

On September 6, 2009, Daniel Rubinstein replaced Jake Walles as the US Consul General and Chief of Mission in Jerusalem.

 
Daniel Rubinstein received his BA in Political Economy of Industrial Societies from the University of California at Berkeley in 1989.
 
Upon graduating, Rubinstein joined the US Foreign Service, where he served in Washington, D.C., Brasilia, Damascus, Tunis, Luanda, Tel Aviv, and Baghdad until 2004. In 2004-2005, Rubinstein acted as the Director of the Department of State’s Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs. Between 2005 and 2008, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Amman, Jordan. In his most recent overseas assignment, before assuming the position of Consul General in Jerusalem, Rubinstein served as the Chief of the Civilian Observer Unit in the Multinational Forces and Observers in Sinai, Egypt.
 
Rubinstein speaks Arabic, Hebrew and Portuguese, and is married to Foreign Service Officer Julie Adams. They have two sons, Jonah and Simon.
 
 
 
The US does not maintain an embassy in Palestine, however the US Consulate in Jerusalem is geared towards Palestinian issues and has established a Virtual Presence Post for Gaza.

US Consulate in Jerusalem 2009 Programs and Events

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Overview

Encompassing what was once commonly known as the “Occupied Territories,” Palestine today serves as the home for nearly four million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It has long been the source of considerable violence and turmoil between Palestinians and Israelis, who until the 1990s ruled over Gaza and the West Bank. The plight of the Palestinians since World War II has been lamented by many in the West, including in the United States. Official policy out of Washington, DC, has historically favored Israel and supported Israeli defense policy, even when military actions threatened Palestinian human rights. Beginning in the late 1980s, a violent rebellion within the occupied territories, plus a public shift in PLO rhetoric, moved Israeli and Palestinian officials to negotiate the establishment of limited sovereignty for Palestinians over their own affairs. Even with the creation of the Palestinian Authority, troubles and violence continue to plague the region, especially after Hamas gained control of Gaza’s government operations. Rocket attacks by Hamas into Israeli territory prompted a large-scale military response by Israel’s air force beginning December 27, 2008,. On January 3, 2009, the Israeli army launched a ground invasion of northern Gaza. Estimates of the number of Palestinian fatalities vary, but are generally considered to be about 1,400.

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Palestine consists of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Gaza is a coastal strip of land along the Mediterranean Sea bordered by Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the north and east. It is about 25 miles long and 4–7.5 miles wide. The West Bank is entirely landlocked and approximately the size of Delaware. It is bordered by Jordan to the east and by Israel to the north, south and west.

 
Population: 1.5 million in the Gaza Strip, 2.4 million in the West Bank (and approximately 300,000 Israeli settlers)
 
Religions: Gaza Strip: Muslim (predominantly Sunni) 99.3%, Christian 0.7%. 
West Bank: Muslim (predominantly Sunni) 75%, Jewish (Israeli settlers) 17%, Christian and other 8%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Gaza Strip: Palestinian Arab. 
West Bank: Palestinian Arab and other Arab 83%, Jewish 17%.
 
Languages: Arabic, Hebrew (widely spoken by many Palestinians), English (widely understood).
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History
From 1923 to 1948, Britain controlled what was then known as Palestine (which included modern day Israel). In August 1947, the United Nations proposed dividing Palestine into two countries—one Jewish state, one Arab—but leaders of Arab nations rejected this idea. The UN approved the creation of Israel, and once Britain pulled out of the country, neighboring Arab nations invaded, intent on crushing Israel. The new Jewish state managed to repel the attacks and secure its autonomy. The remaining areas of Palestine were divided up, with the West Bank going to Jordan and the Gaza Strip to Egypt.
For the next two decades, Jordan attempted to serve as the unofficial representative of the Palestinian people. Frustration over the state of Palestinians, many of whom lived in refugee camps, led to the formation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964, with Yassar Arafat in control of the PLO’s largest faction, Fatah.
 
Following the second Arab-Israeli War in 1956, leaders of Israel found themselves facing the prospect of another invasion by its neighbors in 1967. But instead of waiting for Egypt, Syria, and Jordan to attack, Israeli defense forces launched a preemptive strike that was so thorough that Israel won the conflict in only six days. Israel expanded its territory as a result of the six-day war, gaining control of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, along with East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and all of the Sinai Peninsula. The UN adopted Security Council Resolution 242 calling for peace in the Middle East and the return of the Occupied Territories to Israeli’s Arab neighbors. Israel refused to comply, and over time allowed Jewish settlers to establish new communities in the Occupied Territories.
 
Unrest among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip led to the beginning of the intifada in 1987, an uprising that produced numerous violent confrontations between Palestinians and Israelis over the next several years. The intifada also gave birth to Hamas, an organization committed to violent confrontation with Israel, which gained support from Palestinians and other Arabs who had grown weary of the PLO’s efforts.
In 1988, PLO leader Arafat, who had spent decades battling Israel and calling for the destruction of the Jewish state, publicly renounced terrorism and officially recognized the state of Israel. This move helped pave the way for secret talks between Israeli and PLO negotiators, which eventually resulted in the Oslo Accord signed in 1993. The accord stipulated a five-year plan in which Palestinians of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would gradually become self-governing. As part of the agreement, Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip and Jericho in the West Bank in 1994. The Palestinian Authority (PA), with Arafat as its elected leader, took control of the newly non-Israeli-occupied areas, assuming all governmental duties.
Arafat insisted, however, that the Palestinian Authority also take control of East Jerusalem, which Israel refused to cede. Negotiations between the two sides went nowhere, and in September 2000, violence again erupted between Palestinians and Israelis, including suicide bombings against Jewish locations and reprisals by the Israeli military. In 2002, Israeli troops surrounded Yasir Arafat at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon blamed Arafat for allowing Hamas terrorists to attack Israelis and called for his expulsion from the territories. The IDF besieged Arafat’s headquarters for five months.
 
In March 2003, Arafat agreed to political reforms within the PA to share power with a prime minister. Mahmoud Abbas, second-in-command of the PLO, assumed the post. Unlike Arafat, Abbas emphatically rejected the Palestinian intifada, but he had no influence or control over Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups. Israel, meanwhile, refused not only to dismantle Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, but also continued to build a controversial “security barrier” dividing Israeli and Palestinian areas. Abbas resigned in September 2003, and Arafat appointed a new prime minister, Ahmed Qurei. The violence from the second intifada lasted four years, until 2004, killing almost 4,000, including nearly 3,000 Palestinians.
 
On March 22, 2004, Israel assassinated Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas. The attack cumulated a six-month period during which Israel killed more than 20 Hamas officials and vowed to destroy the entire leadership. In July, Israel revised the route of its security barrier so that it no longer cut into Palestinian land. Four months later, Arafat died, marking the end of an era in Palestinian affairs. He was succeeded by former Prime Minister Abbas as president of the PA. At a summit in February 2005, Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Sharon agreed to a cease-fire, leading to the withdrawal of 8,000 Israeli settlers from Gaza. Dense with population, Gaza gained 25% more land as a result of the Israeli withdrawal.
 
Hopes for continued peace between Palestinians and Israelis were dashed with the January 2006 elections in the PA, which resulted in a landslide victory for Hamas over Arafat’s long dominant Fatah party. Hamas won 74 of the 132 parliamentary seats, giving Ismail Haniya, a centrist Hamas leader, the seat of prime minister. Although Hamas had been engaged in a cease-fire with Israel for more than a year, it continued to call for Israel’s destruction and refused to renounce violence. As a result, Western donor countries cut off direct aid to the Hamas-run government, leading to a humanitarian crisis that saw 70% of Gaza’s population lacking enough food.
 
In June 2006, the yearlong cease-fire with Israel ended. After Hamas militants killed two Israeli soldiers and kidnapped another, Israel launched air strikes and sent ground troops into Gaza, destroying its only power plant and three bridges. Israel also arrested many of Hamas’ elected officials. Fighting continued in July, with Hamas firing rockets into Israel, and Israeli troops killing about 200 Palestinians.
By the end of the year, Hamas and Fatah turned on each other. Street fights and shootings broke out between the various factions in Gaza for more than a week until a ceasefire called by President Abbas (Fatah) and Prime Minister Haniya (Hamas). In March 2007, the leaders of Hamas and Fatah finally agreed on a coalition government, which Parliament later approved. But the Hamas-dominated government still did not recognize Israel or renounce violence. Fighting between Hamas and Fatah erupted again in June 2007, with Hamas effectively taking control of the Gaza Strip. In response, President Abbas dissolved the government, fired Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, and declared a state of emergency. Salam Fayyad, an economist, took over as interim prime minister, while Abbas and Fatah tried to maintain control over the West Bank. In an effort to boost Abbas, the United States and the European Union said they would resume direct aid to the Palestinians.
 
Political conditions between Gaza and Israel continued to be bleak, with Hamas launching rocket attacks against Jewish targets in 2007 and 2008. In December ’08, Israeli leaders ordered one of the most devastating attacks ever into Palestinian territory. Air assaults killed approximately 400 people in Gaza and wounded almost 2,000 more in just a few days of fighting. IAccording to MideastWeb, “The UN Security council issued a statement December 28 calling for both sides to stop the violence, but US objections prevented a binding cease fire resolution.” On January 3, 2009, Israeli launched a ground invasion into northern Gaza. The major fighting ended on January 18, when Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire. However Hamas rocket launchings and Israeli retaliations continued until after Israeli elections took place on February 10, 2009.
 
In August 2009, Fatah called for peace and a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The statement insisted on the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their old homes on what is now Israeli soil. This came during a party convention marked by a change in support among the Fatah leadership, generally in favor of a younger generation of leaders. Marwan Barghouti, who has been cited as a critic of the party establishment, was elected into the 23-member Fatah Central Committee with the third-most votes. Ahmed Qureia, a former Palestinian Authority prime minister and aide to Yasser Arafat, failed to earn reelection.
The Israeli government continues to fund construction in West Bank settlements to account for what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called “natural growth.”
Palestine Facts (PalestineFacts.org)
Israeli and Palestinian Historical Narratives (by the Peace Research Institute in the Middle East) (pdf)
Palestine (Wikipedia)

Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories: Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (pdf) 

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History of U.S. Relations with Palestine

Palestinian concerns have often taken a back seat to the United States’ commitment to Israel. Although American policymakers have expressed concerns over the state of affairs for those living in what was once known as the Occupied Territories, the US has consistently backed Israel in the course of discussions over what to do with a Palestinian state. From the 1960s through most of the 1980s, Washington echoed Israel’s view that Yassar Arafat first had to go, or the PLO had to stop committing acts of terrorism, before any recognition would be given to a Palestinian state.

 
In October 1991, the US helped arrange the Madrid Conference, in which Israeli, Lebanese, Jordanian, Syrian, and Palestinian leaders laid the foundations for ongoing negotiations designed to bring peace and economic development to the region. Within this framework, Israel and the PLO signed a Declaration of Principles on September 13, 1993, which established a set of objectives relating to a transfer of authority from Israel to the Palestinian Authority. Israel and the PLO subsequently signed the Gaza-Jericho Agreement and the Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities which began the process of transferring authority from Israel to the Palestinians. On October 26, 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a historic peace treaty, witnessed by President Bill Clinton.
 
The United States began providing assistance for the Palestinians in 1950 with contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the international body created to provide food, shelter, medical attention, and education for the Palestinian refugees from the 1948-1949 Arab-Israeli war. In 1975, the United States began to provide foreign assistance for Palestinian projects, primarily humanitarian (child care, medical clinics) or infrastructure (clean water, roads, schools). Since 1975, about 80% of US aid funds for the Palestinians has gone through contractors and 20% has gone through private voluntary organizations (PVOs). USAID selects the contractors and PVOs monitors their projects and audits their accounts.
 
Since the signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993, the US government has committed an estimated $1.9 billion in bilateral economic assistance to the Palestinians.
 
As for Palestinian immigration to the US, only recently have immigration records included a category for Palestinians. Palestinians often arrived in America having departed from countries like Egypt or Jordan. The vast majority of Palestinians have immigrated to America since 1948, after the formation of the Israeli state. Palestinians arrived in droves in the aftermath of the 1967 War, and also arrived en masse during the late 1980s, when the Palestinian American population roughly doubled from its previous size of 90,000. Although some Palestinians emigrated for political reasons, most came in search of jobs and education. 
 
The states with the largest Palestinian American populations are California (14,523), Illinois (7,329), Florida (5,997), Texas (5,406), New York (5,222), Michigan (4,470) and New Jersey (3,991).
 
The Palestinian Territories: Background and U.S. Relations (by Paul Morro, Congressional Research Service) (pdf)
United States Aid to the Palestinians (by Clyde Mark, Congressional Research Service) (pdf)
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Current U.S. Relations with Palestine

Since the signing of the Oslo Accord, US policy toward the Palestinians has supported the establishment of a Palestinian state—but only through a negotiated two-state solution with Israel. US administrations have consistently sided with Israel in the course of addressing issues or periods of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Members of Congress have complained that US funds for Palestinian refugees channeled through the United Nations have been mismanaged or found their way into the wrong hands.

 
Among the current issues in US-Palestinian relations is how to deal with the political leadership of Palestinian society, which is divided between Fatah and its rival, Hamas, which the State Department has designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Following Hamas’ victory in the 2006 legislative election and the formation of a Hamas-led PA cabinet, the United States halted aid to the PA, but continued humanitarian aid along with efforts to bolster Fatah leader and PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
 
In June 2007, Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip leading Abbas to dissolve the government and appoint an emergency government based in the West Bank that excludes Hamas. The Bush administration then resumed aid to the new Fatah-based government, but questions remained over Fatah’s ability to govern in the West Bank and a possible humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
 
The Bush administration did not give public approval to the Israeli incursion into Gaza in December 2008-January 2009. Critics, however, have argued that US military funding to Israel helped fuel the tanks and warplanes used in the invasion.
 
For the Obama administration, stopping the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank has been a major challenge preventing US officials from bringing Palestinian and Israeli leaders to the negotiating table. In June 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated that he would not completely halt construction of new homes in settlements beyond the security barrier, in order to account for what he called “natural growth.” This includes the increase of settlement populations from new generations, as well as the influx of Israeli citizens who want to move to settlements from Israel proper.
 
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared in early November 2009 that he would not run for reelection in the forthcoming Palestinian elections. He voiced frustration after US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited the region and commended as “unprecedented” Netanyahu’s offer to slow down, but not freeze, settlement construction.
 
According to The Wall Street Journal, Palestinian officials said on November 15, 2009, that they are “considering a unilateral appeal for United Nations Security Council recognition of a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, separate from Israel.” This is another sign of the Palestinian leadership’s mounting frustration at the faltering progress of the US-led peace initiative.
 
A total of 72,112 people identified themselves as being of Palestinian origin in the 2000 US census. This number undoubtedly under-represents the Palestinian population in the US; most researchers estimate that closer to 200,000 people of Palestinian descent live in America. 
 
Palestinians Weigh U.N. Statehood Declaration (by Joshua Mitnick and Charles Levinson, Wall Street Journal)
 
 
Notable Palestinian-Americans
Edward Said (1935- 2003), Columbia professor of Comparative Literature and English, best known for his book Orientalism
Joseph Massad, Columbia professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History
DJ Khaled, hip hop DJ
Laila Al-Marayati, USC professor, chairwoman of KinderUSA and former president of the Los Angeles-based Muslim Women’s League
John H. Sununu, former governor of New Hampshire, and his son John E. Sununu, former US Senator (R-NH)
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Where Does the Money Flow

In 2008 the US exported a total of $400,000 in goods to the West Bank and Gaza, while it imported $4.9 million. This was a drastic change from the previous year, during which the US traded $17.6 million in exports and $3.6 million in imports to and from the Palestinian territories. In 2007 the US exported nearly $14 million in wheat to Palestine—$9.3 million to the West Bank and $4.6 million to the Gaza Strip. These figures coincided with a 99% increase from 2006 in US grain exports to destinations worldwide. The US, however, did not export any wheat to Palestine in 2008.

 
While US trade with the Gaza Strip was reduced in 2008 to $61,000 in exports, over half of this ($31,000) came in the form of civilian aircraft, engines, equipment and parts. Other exports included photo and service industry machinery ($11,000), household appliances ($9,000), and medicinal equipment ($7,000).
 
To the West Bank the US exported a total of $290,000, including $75,000 in unmanufactured agricultural industry, $33,000 in new and used passenger cars, $26,000 in industrial engines, and $26,000 in telecommunications equipment.
 
Of the $2.3 million in imports from the Gaza, Strip, $2.2 million came as cotton apparel and household goods. The remaining amount included stone, sand, cement, and lime ($83,000), and industrial inorganic chemicals ($13,000).
 
West Bank imports totaled $2.6 million. $904,000 was classified under “Other (tobacco, waxes, nonfood oils),” $718,000 as stone, sand, cement, and lime, $535,000 as food oils and oilseeds, and $256,000 as vegetables and preparations.
 
All trade between the US and Palestine—both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip—is administered by Israel.
 
For FY 2010, the Obama administration requested $400 million in Economic Support Funds (ESF) for the West Bank and Gaza and an additional $4.8 million in Child Survival and Health (CSH) funds.
 
The US does not give security assistance to Palestine.
 
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Controversies
The Goldstone Report
On April 3, 2009, the President of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council appointed the former Justice of South Africa, Richard Goldstone, to head the UN Fact Finding Mission, charged with investigating possible violations of international law and human rights during the December 2008-January 2009 Gaza conflict. On September 29 Goldstone and his Commission presented their 575-page report to the UN Human Rights Council, detailing the findings of the Mission.
 
The Goldstone Report, as it is now widely known, has met both criticism and support from governments and organizations around the world. Human Rights Watch, the international human rights organization, called the report “a crucial step toward securing accountability for the civilian victims of the war on all sides” and urged the UN General Assembly to endorse the report. The US House of Representatives, on the other hand, deemed the findings of the report “irredeemably biased” and, in a vote of 344-36, called on President Barak Obama to maintain his opposition to the report.
 

US House Rejects Goldstone Report (Al Jazeera) 

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Human Rights

Domestic abuse of women, societal discrimination against women and persons with disabilities, and child labor remain serious problems.

 
During Hamas’ takeover of Gaza in June 2007, armed Palestinian groups engaged in summary executions and torture and put the lives of civilians at risk. In June, 193 Palestinians were killed of which 181 were due to factional violence; 85% of Palestinians killed were in Gaza.
 
Amnesty International reported in August 2008 that at least 200 people were being detained in the Gaza Strip after a crackdown by the ruling Hamas administration on political activists and armed militia members affiliated with the Fatah party. Detainees were held incommunicado without their legal rights and many were believed to have been tortured.
 
The increasing lack of law and order in Gaza eroded public confidence in security forces, and many Palestinians sought protection by turning to individual clans and family groups. Consequently, family disputes were increasingly fatal, with 72 deaths between January 2006 and July 2007.
 
International human rights groups stated that torture was a significant problem. Torture by PA security forces and the Hamas Executive Force reportedly was widespread and not restricted to security detainees. Documentation of abuses was very limited, due partly to fear of retribution by alleged victims. Palestinian security officers have no formal guidelines regarding interrogations; convictions were based largely on confessions.
 
PA prison conditions are poor. Many prisons were destroyed during the intifada and were not reconstructed. Prisoners were kept informally incarcerated.
 
PA security forces often ignored laws by detaining persons without warrants and without bringing them before judicial authorities. PA security forces also occasionally disregarded court decisions calling for release of alleged security criminals. Suspects often were held without evidence and denied access to lawyers, families, or doctors.
 
The PA does not have laws providing for freedom of press. Palestinian media frequently published and broadcast material that included anti-Semitic content. Rhetoric by Palestinian terrorist groups included expressions of anti-Semitism, as did sermons by some Muslim religious leaders carried on the official PA television. Some Palestinian religious leaders rejected the right of Israel to exist. Hamas’ al-Aqsa television station carried shows for preschoolers extolling hatred of Jews and suicide bombings.
Human Rights Watch called on Palestinian officials in December 2008 to impose an immediate moratorium on the death penalty and eliminate its use in Palestinian law. During the year, Palestinian civil and military courts sentenced 11 people to death, including a defendant who was a child at the time of the alleged offense.
 
According to the State Department, “Palestinian labor law states that work is the right of every capable citizen and regulates the work of women. However, during the year [2008] the rate of female participation in the workforce did not exceed 14 percent compared to 67 percent for males. Women endured prejudice and repression. Cultural restrictions associated with marriage occasionally prevented women from completing mandatory schooling or attending college. Families often disowned Muslim and Christian women who married outside their faith. Local officials sometimes advised such women to leave their communities to prevent harassment.”
 
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Debate
Should the US Recognize Palestine as an Independent State?
 
Since the Palestinian National Council approved the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in Algiers on November 15, 1988, more than 100 countries have recognized the State of Palestine and some 25 others host a Palestinian delegation with official diplomatic status. Palestine is currently represented as a permanent observer member of the United Nations by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) under the name “Palestine.” The United States, however, continues to refuse Palestine diplomatic recognition as an independent state. Should it reconsider?
 
Pro
The Palestinian people deserve their own state. They have suffered incredibly in the last century and, what’s more, their subjection was created and is perpetuated by a fellow Semitic people with their own history of suffering. The US should recognize Palestine, in part because much of the rest of the world does. US recognition would likely garner support from the Arab League for achieving peace in the Middle East.
Recognition is Long Overdue (by George Thompson, Washington Report)
Palestinians Seek EU Support for Statehood (by Mohammed Daragheh, Associated Press)
 
Con
The manner in which Palestinian independence was declared does not satisfy international legal criteria and will undermine the peace process. The US should not recognize any Palestinian government before it renounces violence and is prepared to recognize Israel. The US should not recognize a Palestinian state so long as Palestinian leadership proves incapable of governing one. A unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence (i.e. without negotiations with Israel) will actually create a smaller state than one brokered through talks. The US should not recognize a unilaterally declared state because it is not in the Palestinians’ interest.
But First, Let’s Talk (by Allan Brownfeld, Washington Report)
Palestinian Disunity Has Chilling Effect on Peace Process (by Michael Sharnoff, Middle East Times)

Transforming America’s Israel Lobby: The Limits of Its Power and the Potential for Change (by Dan Fleshler, 2009) 

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Past Ambassadors
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Palestine's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Areikat, Maen Rashid

Palestine does not maintain an embassy in the US, however the Palestine Liberation Organization does operate a mission in Washington, DC.

 
Maen Rashid Areikat is currently the Chief Representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Mission to the United States.
 
Areikat was born October 12, 1960, in Jericho in the West Bank to a family influential in Palestinian and Jordanian politics. When he was 18, Areikat left Jericho for England and the US. He received his BS in Finance from Arizona State University in 1983 and his MBA in management from Western International University in 1987. He was elected president of the General Union of Palestine Students from 1981-1983 during his stay at ASU.
 
In 1992 Areikat returned to Palestine and began working with Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, the official spokeswoman of the Palestinian Delegation to the Peace Talks with Israel. He then joined the Orient House, the headquarters of the Palestinian Team to the peace talks, and, from 1993-1998, took part in Palestinian-Israel negations in Gaza, Egypt, Jerusalem and Israel.
 
Areikat became the Director-General of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO in Ramallah in 1998. In this position, he supervised the Negotiations Support Unit, which provides legal, policy, communication and technical support to the Palestinian Negotiating Teams with Israel and to the Palestinian National Authority.
 
In May 2009, Areikat joined the PLO Mission to the US. As the Chief Representative of the PLO, he serves an ambassadorial function to the US, especially concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict.
 
Areikat has a wife, Jumana, and three sons: Rashid, Saif and Amr.
 
 
Palestine’s Ambassador to the UN
 
Riyad H. Mansour is a Palestinian-American diplomat who is currently the Permanent Observer for the Mission of Palestine to the United Nations.
 
Mansour was born in 1947 in Palestine, where he spent the first 18 years of his life. His father emigrated to Youngstown, OH, and worked in the steel industry, sending money back to his family. Eventually Mansour emigrated, as well, and enrolled in Youngstown State University (YSU). At YSU, He earned a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Counseling in 1971 and 1973 respectively. Mansour went on to graduate from the University of Akron in 1977 with a Ph.D. in Guidance and Counseling.
 
 Mansour started at the United Nations in 1977 as a research advisor and later served as the Deputy Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations from 1983-1994. He then spent 11 years working in the private sector and teaching at the University of Central Florida. In 2005 the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, appointed him to succeed Nasser al-Qudwa as Permanent Observer.
 

Mansour met his wife, Caryl Mansour (formerly Caryl Galicia), at YSU when they were both students there. They have a daughter and a son.

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Palestine's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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Comments

Hinda 5 years ago
this page is filled with fiction instead of facts. first and foremost, the plo did not ratify the oslo accords which means inbasic law that there was no agreement. israel therefore did not have to give up any rights to any land, including gaza. second, jerusalem was unified in 1967. it is part of israel. it is not part of the mythical country called palestine. third, the father of modern day terrorism, the nephew of the partner of the nazis coined the term "palestinian" in 196...
Gary Schrack 6 years ago
I attended “The Palestinian-Israeli Impasse: Conflict Resolution or Crisis Management?” presentation at ASU on March 23, 2011. I am a US citizen and attended this meeting because I was interested in how a peace deal could be obtained. It was very interesting to listen to Mr. Maen Areikat. There were very good questions from the Arab Students Association and the audience. I believe Mr. Areikat answered them as truthfully and as honestly as he could. Mr. Areikat definitely wanted...

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U.S. Ambassador to Palestine

Rubinstein, Daniel
ambassador-image

On September 6, 2009, Daniel Rubinstein replaced Jake Walles as the US Consul General and Chief of Mission in Jerusalem.

 
Daniel Rubinstein received his BA in Political Economy of Industrial Societies from the University of California at Berkeley in 1989.
 
Upon graduating, Rubinstein joined the US Foreign Service, where he served in Washington, D.C., Brasilia, Damascus, Tunis, Luanda, Tel Aviv, and Baghdad until 2004. In 2004-2005, Rubinstein acted as the Director of the Department of State’s Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs. Between 2005 and 2008, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Amman, Jordan. In his most recent overseas assignment, before assuming the position of Consul General in Jerusalem, Rubinstein served as the Chief of the Civilian Observer Unit in the Multinational Forces and Observers in Sinai, Egypt.
 
Rubinstein speaks Arabic, Hebrew and Portuguese, and is married to Foreign Service Officer Julie Adams. They have two sons, Jonah and Simon.
 
 
 
The US does not maintain an embassy in Palestine, however the US Consulate in Jerusalem is geared towards Palestinian issues and has established a Virtual Presence Post for Gaza.

US Consulate in Jerusalem 2009 Programs and Events

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