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US secretary of state, Palestinian Americans discuss ‘important issues’

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. (State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha)

US secretary of State Antony Blinken has met a select group of Palestinian American leaders — signifying the importance of changes in the Democratic Party in recent months.

In the past, US officials regularly met Jewish American leaders, but did not meet with Arab American leaders.

Blinken tweeted on June 5 about the importance of the conversation with Palestinian-American leaders regarding violence in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

“We are committed to rebuilding our relationship with the Palestinian people. Israelis and Palestinians deserve equal measures of security, freedom, opportunity and dignity,” he said on his official Twitter account.

Palestinian Americans who participated told Arab News that the meeting was serious and tackled some of the key issues that need to be talked about.

“We spoke about the importance of conditionality of any aid to Israel and our total opposition to rewarding Israel with the $735 million military aid package,” said the participant, who asked not to be identified.

The meeting follows promises by President Joe Biden’s administration, repeated in Ramallah recently during Blinken’s meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas, on the need to reopen the US consulate in East Jerusalem and the Palestinian mission to the US.

Complicated legal and legislative laws have hampered the quick reopening of the Palestinian mission to the US.

No names were officially announced and neither was the meeting made public, but Palestinian sources in the US told Arab News that the gathering included a number of well-known political, social and financial leaders.

A source named the following as having participated: Leading Palestinian American nationalist Hanna Hanania; Maysoon Zaideh, a respected comedian and advocate of disability rights; lawyer George Salem; president of the Arab American Institute James Zogby; lawyer and businesswoman Samar Ali; Daniel Harb, president of the American Federation of Ramallah; Taleb Salhab, senior non-profit executive leader; and Ghada Najjar, a Palestinian American academic.

While the list of Palestinian Americans represents traditional and some new leadership, it appears to have avoided extremists and some of the current grassroots leaders who have been igniting demonstrations throughout the US.

A statement signed by more than 500 Palestinian Americans opposed the meeting, considering the closed-door gathering an attempt to circumvent grassroots leaders and to divide the Palestinian American community.

“We call on fellow Palestinians, join us in denouncing Secretary Blinken’s opportunistic meeting with ‘Palestinian community leaders.’ We reject any attempt to undermine the grassroots uprising in Palestine or to divide the powerful coalitions in the US calling for Israel to be held accountable.”


(c) 2021 the Arab News

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