By: Mehrunisa Qayyum
Washington, DC – On Thursday, December 1st, The General Delegation of the PLO to the United States held “International Day of Solidarity With the Palestinian People” hosted by Ambassador Maen Rasheed Areikat and his wife. Although the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural organization admitted Palestine as a U.N. member state, the United States responded by not paying 60 million dollars to the agency last month.
The event commemorated what the U.N. General Assembly acknowledged thirty-four years ago: calling for the annual observance of November 29th as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people. (Prior to that in 1947, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 (II), also known as the Partition Resolution.) Following this tradition, the US PLO Delegation coordinated a photography exhibit, an Oud performance, and displayed a collection of traditional handicrafts as Ambassador Areikat recognized Peace & Justice Awardees.
Recognition of Palestinian culture and identity was not limited to those of Palestinian descent. Moreover, recognition of Palestinian culture did not mean framing Palestinian identity as only a a series of challenges in asserting identity. In particular, Julian Schnabel, a Jewish-American and Academy Award Nominee, earned one of the Peace & Justice Awards. Other Peace & Justice Awardees included Rula Jebreal, author & screenplay writer of the acclaimed novel and film Miral; and Yousef Khanfar, an award winning author and photographer of Palestinian descent. Miral received criticism from some groups who challenged the narrative. Criticism dismissed the following facts: 1) the film was based on autobiography; and 2) film-makers included proud Jewish-Americans.
Aside from Palestine’s rich culture, and efforts to reassert its identity, the World Bank has also recognized the Palestinian National Authority’s push for state-building programs. According to an April report, “if the Palestinian Authority maintains its performance in institution-building and delivery of public services, it is well-positioned for the establishment of a state at any point in the near future.” The report must have noted a few of the of economic and public financial developments that contributed to these findings, such as:
1) Net lending, as a percentage of GDP, declined from 11 percent in 2007 to 3.4 percent in 2010.
2) Net public revenues, as a percentage of GDP, increased from 25 percent in 2007 to 28 percent in 2010.
3) Established a single accounting system through the budget entities and electronically connected them to the Ministry of Finance.
4) 18 percent rise in the volume of foreign investment in Palestine.
5) Organized two investment conferences in Bethlehem in 2008 and 2010 attend by global investors.
Note: Numbers and figures from Palestinian National Development Plan 2011-2013; Building Palestine: Achievements and Challenges. Report of the Palestinian National Authority to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, April 13, 2011.