The elite Palestinian diplomatic unit against Israel is the Negotiation Affairs Department in the PLO, which leads the propaganda battle against the separation fence and the settlements.
The department recently chalked up an important accomplishment: encouraging American opposition to the separation fence. Stephanie Khoury, a Palestinian woman from Texas who works for the department, visited the White House in 2003, making a presentation to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice about the injustice of the fence. The meeting is considered a watershed moment in the campaign to make Israel change the route of the fence, which last week reached its climax in the government surrender when it announced to the High Court of Justice that it was moving the fence.
The PLO negotiations department was founded in 1994 to monitor the implementation of the Olso accords, to formulate Palestinian positions and to provide legal and media aid to the negotiating teams. It was originally headed by Mahmoud Abbas, who would eventually serve briefly as the first prime minister. He was replaced by Saeb Erekat last year. The financing came from Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Holland. It has about 20 full-time staffers and a logistical team. Its high-profile spokesmen are American Palestinians, led by Harvard law graduate Michael Terzi.
Its Web site, www.nad-plo.org, provides information and reasoned arguments in favor of the Palestinian cause for supporters throughout the world. A cleanly styled, sophisticated site, its messages are brief and to the point, formulated for the political culture of the U.S. and Europe, rejecting violence and sensitive to human rights.
The reality depicted by the site is practically sterile. Neither terrorism nor IDF activity in the territories are mentioned. There is no effort to win sympathy with images of victims and body parts, like at the site hosted by its rival, the Israeli Foreign Ministry. The violent conflict is not mentioned, nor is the "resistance to the occupation." The narrative is different: the Palestinians are depicted as innocent victims of an Israeli policy of transfer.
According to the negotiations department, Israel has more than one goal with the fence: confiscating Palestinian lands to enable further growth of the settlements, setting political borders unilaterally, encouraging Palestinians to leave the country by making it impossible for them to make a living, denying them water and freedom of movement so that remaining in their villages or cities is impractical.
Using terms like "transfer" and "cleanse" to describe something "deep in Zionism," the site's images show the suffering of Palestinians near the fence who have been cut off from their lands and schools. This week a photograph of the tall cement wall that went up between Jerusalem and Abu Dis was added to the site. That section of the wall has the word "ghetto" scrawled as graffiti on it. The site includes descriptions of the fence's range, noting that with the "eastern fence" (yet to be approved by the government), 55 percent of the West Bank will be annexed to Israel.
The site details the Palestinian position on the issues of the permanent agreement, explaining that the Palestinians rejected the proposals at Camp David in 2000 because "it was a repackaging of the military occupation, and not its end." The PLO, says the site, favors a two-state solution, with the Green Line as the border. All the settlements, including those in the Jerusalem area, must be evacuated.
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