The stalled Middle East peace process and its implications for the Palestinian people were the main topics discussed when Palestinian ambassador to France, Hael Al-Fahoum, met with the AAPA on June 23 at the Palestinian mission. Over a lengthy breakfast, Al-Fahoum, a veteran diplomat and PLO insider since the late 1970s, explained his concerns for the region and discussed potential strategies for the Palestinians, faced with lack of progress in negotiations. He also spoke at length about internal, Palestinian divisions between Fatah and Hamas.

Al-Fahoum, who was elevated to the rank of ambassador by the French government in 2010 – the first head of mission to be given that diplomatic rank – indicated that the Palestinians had nothing to lose by presenting a recognition request to the United Nations, but pointed out that this did not preclude a resumption of direct talks with Israel if the terms for talks can be agreed.

The ambassador stressed that he was not convinced about the usefulness of holding a much-touted, international conference on the Palestinian question this summer, as he does not believe Israel will attend and because the United States is not fully behind this French proposal. “I myself have doubts this conference will take place because I doubt that the Israelis will accept the French offer,” Al-Fahoum said, adding: “I don’t think the Americans will come without the Israelis, and it will be useless to hold a conference.”

-John Keating