January 15, 2008
Subject: Static Diplomacy
From: PLO Mission - Washington, DC
Afif Safieh, the Head of the PLO Mission, has returned to Washington from Palestine. While in Ramallah, Safieh attended the meetings with visiting President Bush / met with President Abbas/ with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad/ attended the meetings of the Fatah Council which discussed the situation in Gaza and the preparations for the Fatah Conference before Summer 2008/ visited Bili'in where a heroic protracted non-violent struggle is waged against settlement-building and land-confiscation and met with the entire leadership of the village/ attended the exquisite Daniel Barenboim piano concert in Ramallah where the size of audience again demonstrated Palestinian thirst for a life of normality or the semblance of normality...etc.
Safieh deplored what he called "Static Diplomacy" in spite of the thousands of hours that are invested in talk about talks, negotiating pre- negotiations and pre- negotiating negotiations. On the ground the situation continues to deteriorate: the inhuman siege of the Gaza Strip and the daily bombardments, the frequent and repeated Israeli military incursions in the urban centers of the West Bank, settlement expansion mainly in and around occupied East Jerusalem and the number of the check-points that was not reduced strangulating the society and suffocating the economy.
Safieh was distressed by the conditions in East Jerusalem, the future Capital of Palestine, a city politically orphaned by the death of the Faisal Husseni and the illegal closure of The Orient House. Safieh in a meeting with 12 personalities from Jerusalem took a commitment to constantly raise the issue of the necessary reopening of The Orient House as stipulated in the first phase of the Road Map.
During his stay in Ramallah, Afif Safieh has asked President Abbas to relieve him, soon, during 2008, of his duties in Washington for health reasons. Safieh has suffered in 2006-2007 of a herniated disc and has undergone surgery last May.