Al-Awda is circulating the following letter by Dr.Salman Abu Sitta to Mr Salim al-Zanoun, Speaker of the Palestinian National Council, in response to his letter to the members of the PNC. The letter below is translated into English from the original Arabic:
May 23, 2020
Dear Mr Salim al Zanoun
Speaker of the Palestine National Council
We received your circular to PNC members about President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision “to be released of all agreements with Israel and its commitments” and “to call on Arabs, Muslims and the international community to stand up for their responsibilities and duties toward the Palestinian people”, ending with the Council’s affirmation that “the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”
Let me begin with a correction of the last sentence: the (elected) Palestinian National Council is the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. As for PLO it is the executive body of the Council, which is entrusted with implementing its decisions. Those sitting on its chairs are subject to change and re-election.
Since every Palestinian is a natural member of PLO, according to the National Charter, every Palestinian must be represented democratically in the National Council. Otherwise, the legitimacy of the Council and the leadership of PLO is obsolete.
The last legitimate meeting of the Council was in Algeria in 1988, and no legitimate meeting of the Council took place after that in a free Arab country. For those reasons, the legitimacy of the membership of the Council and the leadership of the current organization is suspect, or worse, as others may see it.
As your predecessor, Abd al-Hamid al-Sayeh, the loyal patriot, have said, “There is no prayer under spears”, so PNC meeting under the Israeli occupation is unacceptable. Likewise, deleting some of the articles of the National Charter to appease Mr Clinton is strictly objectionable and inadmissible.
Even if we recognize the Legislative Council elections that took place in 2006, we must recognize that their term has already expired.
The question then arises:
Who represents the Palestinian people today?
More than half of the Palestinian people live in exile, and half of the Palestinian people are young people at home and abroad born after the Oslo disaster. Both are not represented in the Council and have no voice to represent them. Our people in Gaza and in Palestine within the 1948 Armistice Line (“Israel”) are not represented either, and you are well aware of the reasons why.
Let us not open the book, for now, on the situation in the West Bank where 18% of the Palestinian people live and where only a small percentage of them believe that the Palestinian Authority represents them.
This unfortunate situation has been known to the Palestinian people for a quarter of a century, since the Oslo fiasco, which undermined the Palestinian Rights more than the infamous Balfour Declaration.
I remind you of the anger of the Palestinian people over forfeiting of their rights and betraying the sanctity of any part of their country. No person or leadership of any kind has the authority to forfeit these rights, subject to being charged with high treason.
Let me remind you of the articles of the distinguished Palestinian, Dr. Edward Said, that were highly critical of Oslo, merely one month after its signing. He was not the only one.
You must be aware of the numerous petitions, meetings and conferences in London, Boston, Beirut and Istanbul, and now in the whole world this month, all of which demand the adherence to the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and adherence to the path of Liberation and Return.
The objective of these popular movements was to adhere to the National Charter and to call for the election of a new national council from which a competent and loyal Palestinian leadership would emerge, one that enjoys the trust of all the Palestinian people, with full confidence – unlike what we have today.
I regret to remind you of your attack on these national activities that went so far as to accuse them of being agents of foreign entities. I hope this is not your opinion today.
Since the Oslo disaster, the destruction of the PLO institutions, and the neglect of the democratic structure of the Palestinian people, including unions and associations of teachers, engineers, doctors, workers, women, and youth that were the building blocks of the Palestinian edifice, we ask:
Who is defending the Palestinian Rights in the world today?
It is the youth primarily, the writers, the authors, the opinion makers, and Palestinian popular movements in exile. It is they who carried the banner of Liberation and Return, and they are leading the boycott movement (BDS) in the world.
I regret to say that many Palestinian ambassadors abroad did not play a significant role in this field (with great appreciation to those few who did). Some of them were busy engaged in reporting on the Palestinian activity critical of PA in Ramallah.
But we are alive and dynamic people. On the 72nd Commemoration of Al Nakba in this month of May, dozens of activities by Palestinian people around the world have been held, unhindered by censorship or silencing, assisted by the new electronic means, reiterated their demand for Liberation and Return and their right to be democratically represented in a new PNC, after cleaning our Palestinian House with a democratic broom.
I was heartened to share recently the activity of one event organized by a group of over 20 youth societies, attended by 600 young people. This is the future generation which will carry the banner of Palestine. If they are now deprived of their right to be represented, they will snatch it from those who denied them this right and, moreover, they will demand accounting and trial for their misdeeds, their corruption and their supreme crime: cooperating with the enemy.
I call on you to implement our demand to disband the present council and organize new elections for the democratic representation of 13 million Palestinians in a new council, which will elect new efficient and trustworthy leadership.
As a first step, it is suggested that a group of 300 persons representing the various elements of the Palestinian people will meet to chart the course and the procedure to be taken for world wide election. This group will to be assisted by a preparatory committee, in which young people should be geographically represented and who has knowledge of the conditions of the various communities around the world.
It is all too common to talk of obstacles to be encountered. Our path of struggle was always strewn with obstacles. It never stopped us. Those who cannot bear it, they have to pack up and go, making way for those who can.
The Palestine National Council is the biggest achievement we had since Al Nakba, that we are the People of Palestine (not merely homeless refugees) and Palestine is our country. This must be our sacred mission. This can only be by the revival of PNC membership and by the determination of the young people who will inherit their patrimony, Palestine.
Salman Abu Sitta