How Statehood Bid Affects Palestinian Politics

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Marco Werman: Raji Sourani is director for the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. He lives in Gaza. Sourani says the Palestinian bid for UN membership has brought together the divided Palestinian factions of Hamas and Fatah.

Raji Sourani: I think the Israeli government, especially Netanyahu(sp?) government leaves no room for anybody not to be united. I think, you know, all our difference has been ruled and the possibly of reconciliation exists right now better than any time before and Palestinians, I think, right now have no difference in the the political level whatsoever between Hamas and Fatah. Both should be united and there is no reason or excuse to keep this split and the institutionalized weakness for the Palestinians.

Werman: So Mr Sourani, you're saying you would like to see the split change for these two parties to be united…?

Sourani: I'm very optimistic for the foreseeable future.

Werman: You're optimistic?

Sourani: Yep. Basically right now, Palestinian people, after sixty three years of the Nakba they're talking about very basic, fundamental primitive human rights: right of life, right of movement, right of medical care, right of education and we are extremely far of achieving our right of self determination and independence.

Werman: And yet, Mr Sourani, in the past week Hamas has reiterated it's resistance and Abbas has reiterated peaceful negotiations. It feels like a standoff, yet you're saying it's not a standoff.

Sourani: No, I think Palestinian people do have the right to resist, abide by international law and that's not a shame, that's not something we are, you know, ignoring. It's our full right and I'm saying that, you know, as a Human Rights Activist.

Werman: Mr Sourani, you've said that you feel deceived by President Obama's overtures of the Arab world and the Palestinians. Now there's news from Congress that two hundred million dollars in development aid has been suspended for the Palestinians. Do you think the US is still a credible mediator for Middle East peace?

Sourani: Absolutely not. What we want from United States, don't put Israel as holy body. Don't provide legal political protection, to apply the rule of law in equal footsteps. We are entitled to freedom. We are entitled to self determination. We are entitled to state and we want to see United States supporting in one way ticket, that.

Werman: Mr Sourani, I'd like to ask you a personal question. You've been denied entrance to the United States for the past eleven years and you're now here on a three month visa thanks on part to an intervention by former US President Jimmy Carter, among others. Why do you think the US has kept you out for so long and what do you think has changed?

Sourani: I think that's the shame. For me, lawyer, director of Palestinian Center for Human Rights and I'm a recipient of the Kennedy Award. If all that, and I'm considered a suspected terrorist, who's that?

Werman: Raji Sourani is a 1991 recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. He lives in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Sourani, thanks very much for coming in. Nice to meet you.

Sourani: It's quite an honor and a pleasure. Thank you.