Video from the 2013 Palestine Center Annual Conference. Comments below by Ali Abunimah: In a rich discussion, moderated by journalist George Hishmeh, Osamah Khalil and Manal Jamal discussed the past and present role of Arab states in the question of Palestine, the situation of Palestinians in Syria, and the future of the Palestinian national movement.

“Let’s be clear. The PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] was dismantled after the Oslo accords,” Khalil declared early in the discussion.

“Mahmoud Abbas’ title as chairman of the PLO is an empty title. That organization does not exist. What exists of the PLO – liberation has been pulled out of the Palestine Liberation Organization. What we have instead is a Palestinian Negotiating Authority.”

Khalil is assistant professor of history at Syracuse University and co-founder of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network (

Amid such stark analyses, a major topic was how Palestinians could move forward given the multiple immediate crises they face including internal divisions and the dire situations of Palestinians from Gaza to Lebanon to Syria.

In so many places Palestinians are struggling for mere “survival,” said Jamal, assistant professor of political science at James Madison University.

“We have all these crises going on and when people want to organize the next step, how do we look at the overall picture?”

Should we be discussing such issues as “one state or two states” or emphasizing the immediate crises, Jamal asked.

Jamal also affirmed that in light of the latest revelations regarding polonium poisoning, there should be an international investigation into the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s “assassination.”

While Khalil supported this, he suggested that investigations into the corrupt practices of living Palestinian Authority leaders might be more pressing.

No one will be surprised that we could not definitively resolve these issues, but these are thought-provoking discussions that touch on many questions that Palestinians everywhere are asking.


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Osamah Khalil is a co-founder of Al-Shabaka. He is an Associate Professor of History at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Khalil...
Friday, Nov 15, 2013

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