New group forms to represent Palestinian interests abroad

Courtesy of URIBER
The Palestinian coat of arms alternately represents both the Palestinian National Authority and the state of Palestine

The Palestinian diaspora will soon have another organization representing their best interests in the global political sphere.

The organization will attempt to provide unity to the Palestinian diaspora communities and have a bigger voice within the dispute over Israel occupying Palestinian land, according to Al Jazeera.

The organization will be working alongside the Palestinian Libertarian Organization. “We are trying here to create a supporting structure to be an asset to the PLO, not against it,” Ribhi Halloum, a former PLO ambassador, said to Al Jazeera.

Kelly Escarcega, senior history major at John Brown University, said “I think that a group advocating for Palestinian interests in the Middle East would be effective.”

Escarcega said this is necessary because some people do not have a clear understanding of this issue. “I think there are a lot of misconceptions in the United States and in the media about what the interests of the Palestinians are. It would be helpful to hear what Palestinians find most important from Palestinians themselves.” She said.

“I also think it would be effective when you consider that the Israelis have a much stronger voice in American politics. You have things like AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the largest Jewish population in the world (outside of Israel) in the United States and that does make a difference in working out solutions for peace.” Escarcega said.

Escarcega stated, “I think that leveraging that influence with an official group that has weight in the matter can most certainly be effective for representing Palestinian interests.”

The organization is currently campaigning for the end of Olso, an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Libertarian Organization signed in 1993. They argue this agreement negatively affected the PLO and created new Palestinian leaders beholden to the will of the Israeli government.

The conference was accused of attacking the PLO and as an attempt to divide the Palestinian people.

David Vila, leader of the Jordan Studies summer trip, said that there has been a growing interest in the Middle East on campus.

Vila said he thinks this is in part because of the classes taught on Islam and Middle Eastern history, but he said there is also a connection with what is going on in the world and interest from bigger geopolitical issues and the radical departure from the norm.

“We have a date set and we are planning on having an event that educates the JBU community over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We are hoping to have a fair and balanced view of both sides to offer JBU students new ways of looking at and thinking about the conflict,” Escarcega concluded.