It was a privilege for some of us to meet in Canberra recently with His Excellency Mr Izzat Abdulhadi, Ambassador of the State of Palestine, as part of the phone-in gathering organised by PIEN as part of our bi-monthly series. This was a relatively small gathering, in contrast to one Australia Palestine Ecumenical Network organised with the Ambassador the following week where several Federal Parliamentarians spoke to almost a hundred people about their recent time in Palestine. Others, however, joined us from Melbourne and Sydney via the phone link up and it was a warm and fruitful evening. Ambassador Abdulhadi was joined by the First Secretary at the Embassy Noura Saleh.
A significant issue addressed by the Ambassador was why Australia should recognise the State of Palestine and that such recognition is a first step from which other outcomes can flow. Many people think that a decision on whether one or two states is preferable and/or possible, a final status issue, is what must be solved first. But this is often an excuse for no action or support for Palestine at all as it all seems insoluble. If Palestine is recognised as a legitimate entity there will be more scope for real negotiation. Ambassador Abdulhadi encourages all groups such as ours to join in the campaign urging the Australian Government to recognise the State of Palestine and to speak out about the occupation of East Jerusalem and the continuing expansion of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
From Helen Rainger, President, PIEN Inc