Dialogue Series, Distingushed Lectures, Regional Studies

Ambassador Munir Ghannam Lectures on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Ambassador Munir Ghannam Lectures on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

H.E. Munir Ghannam, Ambassador of Palestine in Qatar, delivered a Focused Discussion lecture ‎on February 13, 2013, on the topic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Ambassador introduced ‎the lecture by noting that “the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which is part of the Arab-Israeli ‎conflict,” has a long and turbulent history that has been ongoing for over a century. Giving some ‎historical background to the conflict, the Ambassador recounted that “the whole story started at ‎the beginning of twentieth century when Palestine was put under the British mandate in 1922, ‎which then started a process of allowing hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants to ‎immigrate from several countries all over the world, but mainly from Europe,” because of the ‎atrocities that the Jews had been subjected to in general, and during the world wars in particular.‎

Over the course of the twentieth century, what was once known as Palestine was completely ‎altered. Through a series of concerted Israeli political and military efforts, Palestine was annexed, ‎occupied, and transformed into an illegitimate entity. Much of the land was renamed as Israel. ‎‎“At the beginning of the twentieth century,” Ambassador Ghannam explained, “the population ‎of Palestine was 89 percent Arabs – I mean, Arabs who are Muslims and Christians – and 11 ‎percent were Jews also living in Palestine and considered Palestinian.” By 1947, the ratios were ‎radically changed causing much friction and a series of conflicts, which spilled into neighboring ‎countries, and ignited an ongoing armed Palestinian resistance campaign. Currently, the Israelis ‎have introduced such dramatic shifts in the demography and geography of the area that they ‎have in effect changed the reality on the ground. ‎

After several rounds of failed negotiations over the years, the Palestinians found that there was ‎no way to reach an agreement with the Israelis to establish a viable contiguous Palestinian state in ‎the West Bank because of Israel’s constant absorption, confiscation, and annexation of land in ‎the West Bank and Gaza. “Whenever we reach an agreement, we find new realities on the ‎ground that don’t allow us to establish a state, and that is why a couple of years ago, we stopped ‎negotiations with the Israelis and we started trying to seek a solution at the United Nations and ‎the Security Council when we managed to have the status of an observer state,” he said. ‎

In conclusion, Ambassador Ghannam said that this new situation gives hope to the Palestinians ‎that a fresh round of negotiations can now take place with the support of the international ‎community to give the “two-state solution” international legitimacy and to eventually lead to a ‎sovereign and unoccupied Palestinian state. ‎ 

Article by Suzi Mirgani, Manager and Editor of CIRS Publications.