My meeting with a PLO negotiator from Jericho

Posted in Op-ed on February 13, 2010 – 2:42 pm

By Bill Koenig

I noticed at the Metro train stop by the White House on Tuesday, January 18 a newspaper called The Washington Diplomat that focuses on the very large diplomatic community here in Washington.

It captured my interest because January’s lead article was entitled “PLO Going Nowhere?”

I started reading the article to get the Palestinian perspective. The person being interviewed was Maen Rashid Areikat, the new head representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization to the United States — headquartered in Washington.

I thought to myself: That name sounds familiar. I looked through the article for his biography to see if he was who I thought he was. Sure enough, he was.

On my return flight from Israel to Dallas in the first week of January 2000, I was upgraded to Business Class on my oversold British Airways flight from Tel Aviv to London. The Lord had arranged for me to sit next to Maen Rashid Areikat of the PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department.

Maen told me he was on the way to London for some backroom negotiations with the Israelis.

We talked for the entire length of the five-hour flight. We discovered that we had both graduated from Arizona State University. Maen also received his MBA at Western International University in Phoenix. He talked about how he loved living in Arizona.

Maen is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met — a really good guy.

I enjoyed discussing areas of mutual interest and, especially, hearing his perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and what it is like for him and his family to live in the Palestinian territories.

He said he was born in Jericho and attended Catholic schools. He spoke with much sincerity about wanting his family to live in peace and security. He showed no hatred or anger towards Israel.

I thought: If this man were leading the Palestinians, there would be an agreement with Israel such as the ones Israel achieved with Jordan’s King Hussein and Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat.

When I read his article (which I link to below), I saw his very sincere and hopeful side. While he seems totally removed from the radical side of the PLO as led by Yasser Arafat, Fatah and Hamas, I also see a person who doesn’t address the fact that Hamas is the greatest threat to his dream of his living in peace and security.

We know Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas redirected millions of dollars of foreign aid to their bank accounts and their cronies. This led to Hamas becoming a force in Palestinian politics, when they met the social needs of the Palestinians while gaining great favor, which led to their capturing 74 of 132 seats in the Palestinian Parliament in the January 2006 election.

As we continue to hear and read of the ongoing tensions between Fatah and Hamas, we realize that Maen’s job is extremely difficult.

I will contact Maen soon. I want to share with him once again the biblical perspective of what is taking place in Israel. He is the kind of guy who will listen. Who knows? He may be the Arab leader who signs the Daniel 9:27 covenant.

The following is the link to Maen’s interview and my final comments:

With widening Israeli-Palestinian gulf,
 PLO envoy clings to statehood dream (Larry Luxner, The Washington Diplomat)

Click here for the full article.

Final comments: This is a Palestinian perspective from a man who was 4 years old in 1967 and whose father was a Palestinian activist.

The key point is that Maen sincerely wants his family and the rest of the Palestinians to live in peace. That dream has been stopped due to a corrupt Palestinian government and Palestinian terror groups.

Furthermore, “Palestine” was not all Arab: It was the home of the Jews of Palestine and the Arabs of Palestine.

Yasser Arafat and the terror groups have done great harm to the Palestinian people. Palestinians are living in refugee camps in many Arab countries and being treated as third- and fourth-class citizens. They have been pawns in the peace process. Many Palestinians would prefer to live in Israeli-controlled cities, not those managed by the Palestinians.

Hamas, the political party that is in control of the Palestinian Parliament, will not recognize Israel’s right to existence and is determined to have full control over all Palestinian property, which includes Ramallah.

Israel is not the Palestinians’ problem and never has been the Palestinians’ problem. Rather, it is their corrupt leadership and refusal to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. They can complain and call for actions against Israel, but it will never solve the Palestinians’ own political problems.

“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I
consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” ~ George Washington