Palestinian Americans have created a united body that will work on lobbying for their rights in Washington.
The US Palestinian Council was inaugurated in Washington on April 22 after representatives from different parts of the country agreed on statutes of incorporation.
In a session entitled “The power of Palestine begins with its unity,” a 13-person council was elected representing four regions in the US (north-east, Midwest, south and west).
Observers of the US Palestinian community considered the announcement long overdue as the community moves from efforts to promote Palestinian culture to political activism.
The council is expected to be funded and supported by the Palestinian American community and will create a political lobby to press for Palestinian rights.
It will set up a political action committee that will recommend candidates to back in forthcoming US elections.
A Palestine US Convention will take place annually to revitalize the organization and to agree on strategies and next moves.
Hanna Hanania, president of the Ramallah Palestine federation and one of the newly elected members, said the council’s creation “is an important and historic step” in the battle for Palestinian legitimate rights.
Palestine’s permanent envoy to the US, Husam Zomlot, congratulated the leaders and supported their call for the unity of the Palestinian American community.
Zomlot told delegates that the hard work to stand up to attempts at using Washington to liquidate the Palestinian cause has started.
Zomlot told Arab News that the US Palestinian Council would raise the Palestinian profile in Washington and throughout the US.
“We are very happy that the community saw fit to create this body in record time, knowing very well the tremendous challenges ahead,” he said.
Regional Palestinian groups already exist across the US, including in New York, Boston, Florida, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Senan Shaqdieh, a Palestinian activist in the Chicago area, told Arab News that local communities were enthusiastic but restrained.
“We have seen similar efforts before that have failed and we wanted to be sure that this time we don’t let our people down,” he said.
Hanna Hanania, the head of the Ramallah Federation, the oldest Palestinian American grouping, took the lead, suggesting that it would be easier and faster to work with organizations initially.
What was sought was a body that would be similar to the Council of Presidents of Jewish Organizations, one activist told Arab News on condition of anonymity.
Hanania also felt that it was important to bring in hundreds of Palestinian organizations in the US which have been created with cultural advocacy and human rights agendas.
Young Palestinian Americans are largely behind the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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