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The Palestinian leadership…to where?

By Alon Ben-Meir - posted Friday, 8 April 2016

An open letter to President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas Political Chief Khaled Meshal, and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh

Dear President Abbas, Mr. Meshal, and Prime Minister Haniyeh,

I am writing this open letter to you because I believe that it's time for you to take a hard look at the dismal reality to which your people have been subjected for nearly seven decades, especially since 1967. It is time to reconsider your positions, muster the courage to change course, and give the Palestinians, young and old, the hope for a better and more promising future.


Since President Abbas has for 10 years subscribed to peaceful coexistence by renouncing violence and recognizing Israel, let me first address Mr. Meshal and Mr. Haniyeh:

Nearly all Palestinians want to live in peace with Israel because they know deep inside that they do not have another choice. Time and again they have lived through the terrifying consequences of violent confrontations with Israel, which are compounded with every new eruption of hostilities.

You speak on behalf of your people, but do you really hear their cry, do you feel their pain, do you experience their living conditions, do you have a real sense of their despair? If you did, you would not have allowed a single Palestinian to suffer helplessly for another day.

Sadly, you chose to preserve the status quo because it presumably legitimizes your grip on power while riding on the backs of ordinary Palestinians, whose simple dream is to live in peace and dignity that you deny because of your illusions and continued defiance of Israel.

You have cynically perpetuated the Palestinian refugee problem by using them as pawns, making them believe that the day of salvation is near and that they will all return to their homes, knowing full well that that day will never come.

You let them languish in refugee camps in the name of protecting their "right of return" while you enjoy the luxury and the comfort for which a multitude of Palestinians pay the price.


You are robbing a fourth generation of young men and women of a promising future and productive life. Instead, you are preparing them to die for an elusive cause–the inevitable demise of Israel-when only death lurks in the shadows of their shattered dreams.

It is time to abandon your pipe-dreams of destroying Israel and ponder over the plight of many thousands of Palestinian children who go to bed hungry and sick, only to wake up in the morning wondering why they must endure another day of hunger and destitution.

You never hear their cries; they need roofs that don't leak, schools that teach rather than preach, health clinics that heal the wounds, wholesome food to nurture their frail bodies, clean water to quench their thirst, and a new horizon to rescue their fading hopes.

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About the Author

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

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