One Democratic Secular State for all its citizens in Israel and Palestine


Posted April 12, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Open Letter to Mahmoud Abbas:

No Surrender!

This letter, signed by 108 eminent Palestinians, was delivered by hand to Mahmoud Abbas on 10 April 2014

Mr Mahmoud Abbas
President of the Palestinian National Authority

5th of April, 2014

Dear President Abbas,

In view of the intense pressure being brought to bear on the Palestinian National Authority by Israel and the U.S. Administration to negotiate a final agreement which will claim to settle all past and present rights and demands of the Palestinian people, and considering the present interruption in negotiations brought about by Israel’s customary practice of reneging on its commitments, we Palestinian and other Arab scholars and professionals with longstanding commitments to the Palestinian cause send you the following message:

 1.  We urge you to stand firm for the national rights of all Palestinians, and to declare that no individual or group of individuals has the unconditional authority to reach a final agreement on behalf of the Palestinian people.  Only the Palestinian people, in their global multitude, have the right to accept or reject a final settlement proposal.  Any such proposal must be submitted for consideration to a Palestine National Council (PNC) whose members are chosen by all Palestinians in free, fair and open elections, and meeting in freedom beyond Israeli interference.

2. Notwithstanding U. S. and Israeli pressure, the Palestinian people have a number of fundamental collective and individual rights, above all the internationally-recognized right of return to their homeland.  These rights inhere in the Palestinians as individuals, as families, and as a people; by their very nature, they are not subject to negotiation and cannot under any circumstances be bartered away. 

 3. The parameters of the current talks, like those that preceded them, preclude the fundamental Palestinian right of self-determination; an Israeli return to the pre-1967 borders without adjustments; removal of all or even the majority of Israeli colonists and colonies from the West Bank and East Jerusalem; Palestinian sovereign control of East Jerusalem; autonomous control of borders, airspace, water and other resources, and the freedom to enter alliances with other states, which are the minimal hallmarks of sovereignty.  What is on the negotiating table, in other words, is not a sovereign Palestinian state, even in those fragments of historic Palestine whose future status is nominally being negotiated, but rather the shimmering and evanescent outline of such a state, wholly inadequate to the rights and needs of even that minority of the Palestinian people currently resident in the territories occupied in 1967. 

4. Nor do these talks seriously address the rights — above all the right of return — of the members of the Palestinian diaspora who live in exile outside historic Palestine and who constitute about half of the Palestinian people.  Neither do these talks address the rights of Palestinians living within pre-1967 Israel, including their right to equality with Jewish citizens and the restoration of the property that had been confiscated from them in the wake of the Nakba of 1948.  On the contrary, in the new demand that Israel be recognised as a “Jewish state,” these talks threaten to confirm official Palestinian acceptance of the negation of all these rights.  Such recognition would abandon these Palestinians to continuing discrimination and in all likelihood a deterioration of their circumstances, if not outright ethnic cleansing.  By excluding Palestinians inside Israel and those in exile, the negotiating framework excludes the majority of the Palestinian people.            

5. Given the above, while the Palestinian people should be consulted via the democratic process already alluded to in order to make their determination, it is in effect inconceivable that they would accept now or in the future the parameters of the present negotiations, which are incompatible with their rights and legitimate aspirations. We therefore believe that the time has come, once and for all, to declare a final break from the pattern of endless negotiations established more than two decades ago at Oslo, which has only provided time for Israel to annex and colonise more territory and impose crippling restrictions on Palestinian life.  The time has come, then, to facilitate a new dialogue among the Palestinian people about the future and aims of the Palestinian struggle, and the appropriate means to secure the rights of all Palestinians — those living under occupation, those living with second-class status in Israel, and those living in enforced exile.  We are confident that you will enjoy the support of the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people if you take it upon yourself to help facilitate a new national dialogue with these ends in view.  

6.  It is abundantly clear not just to us but to countless other observers that you and your leadership will soon be trapped in an impossible situation, which calls for urgent action to pre-empt. We call on you to take the initiative rather than helplessly waiting for the inevitable moment when you will be presented with what will be packaged to the world as an honest and neutral set of American proposals but will in fact have been jointly concocted with Israel and will be irreconcilable with the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people.  You will in effect have no choice but to reject these proposals, thereby allowing the U. S. and Israel, yet one more time, to depict you and the Palestinian people as obstacles to peace.  Rather than waiting, we urge you to act pre-emptively, and to declare, before the anticipated Framework of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry becomes public, a clear statement of principles making clear in positive rather than negative terms that you are committed to a formula for peace that is premised on the internationally-recognized rights and needs of all Palestinians.

After decades of struggle to achieve fundamental Palestinian rights, we are not ready to surrender, and we reject the attempt by anyone to surrender in our names.  We call upon you in your capacity as Chairman of the PLO to recall without delay a democratically reconstituted Palestine National Council (PNC) and entrust it with the process to articulate a new path to a just and lasting peace that will secure the rights of the Palestinian people.  Were you to follow this course, you would have not only the support of the Palestinian people but also surely the endorsement of the majority of the people of the world, who have for decades been resolute and steadfast in their support of the Palestinian cause.


Dr Raja T. Abboud, Professor of Respiratory Medicine

Mr Ali Abdolell, Professor of English Literature

Dr. Faiha Abdulhadi, Writer& Research Consultant 

Dr Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, Professor of Race and Resistance Studies

Dr As’ad Abdulrahman, Executive Chairman, Palestine International Institute

Mr James Abourezk, Former US Senator for South Dakota

Dr Salman Abu Sitta, President, Palestine Land Society, London 

Dr Jose Abu-Tarbush, Professor of Sociology

Mr Yehya Abughaida, Consultant in Aviation

Dr As’ad AbuKhalil, Professor of Political Science

Dr Baha Abu-Laban, Professor of Sociology

Mr Khairi Abuljebain, One of the founders of the PLO

Mr Nader Abuljebain, Engineer

Dr Lila Abu-Lughod, Professor of Anthropology and Women’s Studies

Dr Bashir Abu-Manneh, Professor of Comparative Literature and Middle East Studies

Dr Ali Abdullatif Ahmida, Professor of Political Science

Dr Gilbert Achcar, Professor of International Relations

Dr Mamdouh Aker, Physician & Human Rights Activist

Mr Naser Al Ardah, Economist & Founder of the NGO Engage and Social Enterprise

Mr Hani Al Hindi, A Founding Member of the Arab Nationalist Movement

Dr. Bayan Nuwayhed al-Hout, Professor of Political Science 

Dr Anis Mustafa Al-Qasem, Lawyer, Member of the Palestine National Council

Dr Marwan Al Sayeh, Engineer

Dr Saif Al Zahir, Professor of Computer Science 

Dr Reem Alissa, Professor of Architecture

Dr Abdul Wahab Altura, Medical Doctor

Dr Ibrahim Aoude, Professor of Ethnic Studies

Dr Naseer Aruri, Professor of Political Science

Dr Farid Ayyad, President of the Canadian Arab Federation

Mr Moussa Hanna Baggili, Independent Consultant

Dr Halim Barakat, Professor of Sociology

Mr Tayseer Barakat, Member, Board of Trustees, Palestine International Institute

Dr Hatem A. Bazian, Professor of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies

Dr Salah Bibi, Medical Doctor

Mr Ghassan Bishara, journalist and former media director for MERIP

Dr George Bisharat, Professor of Law

Ms Diana Buttu, Lawyer

Dr Hasan Charif, Professor of Sustainable Development

Dr Georges Corm, Professor of Political Science and Former Lebanese Minister of Finance

Dr Omar S. Dahi, Professor of Economics

Dr Nabil Dajani, Professor of Media Studies

Dr Souad Dajani, Independent Consultant

Dr Zahi Damuni, Professor of Biochemistry/Chair, Palestine Right to Return Coalition

Dr Seif Da’na, Professor of Sociology

Dr Ghada Abdullah El Yafi, Medical Doctor

Dr Randa Farah, Professor of Anthropology

Dr Hani A. Faris, Professor of Political Science

Mr Awni Farsakh, Chartered Accountant

Dr Leila Farsakh, Professor of Political Science

Dr Jess Ghannam, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Global Health Sciences

Dr Sobhi Ghosheh, Medical Doctor and former member of the Arab Council of Jerusalem

Dr Mahmoud Haddad, Professor of Economics

Dr Bahjat Hafez, Economist

Dr Elaine Hagopian, Professor of Sociology

Dr Muhammad Hallaj, Professor of Political Science

Dr Amr Hamzawy, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy

Dr Sari Hanafi, Professor of Sociology

Dr Charles Harb, Professor of Psychology

Dr Marwan Hassan, Professor of Hydrology

Dr Khair  El Din Haseeb, Chairman of Executive Committee of CAUS

Dr Nubar Hovsepian, Professor of Political Science

Mr Monadel Herzallah, U.S. Palestinian Community Network

Dr Naila Saba Jirmanus, Physicist

Dr Ray Jureidini, Professor of Sociology

Dr Taher H. Kanaan, Member of Board of Trustees, Institute of Palestine Studies

Dr Ghada Karmi, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies

Dr Anis F. Kassim, Attorney & Legal Consultant

Dr Nabeel Kassis, Director, Palestine Institute for Economic Policy Research

Dr Mujid Kazimi, Professor of Nuclear Engineering

Dr David Khairallah, Professor of International Law

Dr. Tarif Khalidi, Professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies

Mr Ahmad Khalifeh, Managing Editor, Majallat Al Dirasat Al Filistiniyya

Dr.Khalid khalifeh, Consultant and General Surgeon

Ms Fadia Rafeedie Khoury, Attorney

Dr George Kossaifi, Social Scientist

Dr Atef Kubursi, Professor of Economics

Ms Rania Madi, UN Geneva Consultant on Human Rights

Dr Riad Mahayni, Professor of Community and Regional Planning

Dr Lisa Suhair Majaj, Professor of American Culture and Arab-American Literature

Dr Saree Makdisi, Professor of English and Comparative Literature

Ms Jean Said Makdisi, Author and Independent Scholar

Dr John Makhoul, Engineer

Mr Nasser Mansour, Engineer

Dr Nur Masalha, Professor of Politics

Ms May Masri, Film Director

Dr Fadle Naqib, Professor of Economics

Dr Isam Naqib, Professor of Physics

Dr Ahmad Said Nufal, Professor of Political Science

Dr Dana M. Olwan, Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies

Dr Mohamed Olwan. Professor of Law

Dr. Mufid Qassoom, Vice President of the Arab American University of Jenin

Dr Mazin Qumsiyeh, Professor of Genetics

Dr Anthony Sahyoun, Professor of Surgery

Dr Najib E. Saliba, Professor of Middle East History

Dr Taleb Sarie, Professor of Statistics

Ms Rosemary Sayigh, Professor of Anthropology and Oral History

Dr Youssef Sawani, Professor of Politics

Dr Ahmad Sbaiti, Engineer

Dr Sherene Seikaly, Professor of History

Mr Ibrahim Shikaki, Economist

Ms. Abla Shocair, Musician

Mr Jaber Suleiman, Researcher in the Right of Return Movement

Ms Rima Tarazi, Former President of the General Union of Palestinian Women

Dr Rabab Ward , Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Mr Riad Yassin, Engineer

Dr Antoine Zahlan, Professor of Physics

Mr Mahmoud Zeidan, Human Rights Specialist and co-Director of Nakba Archive 

Dr Elia Zureik, Professor of Sociology

After lengthy deliberations, this Open Letter was composed by a coordinating committee entrusted with the collection and verification of signatures, follow-up and the handling of a reply, composed of:

Dr Hani Faris, Dr Saree Makdisi and Dr Seif Da’na



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