Letter: Palestine's quest for self-determination

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The Independent Online
Sir: At least as far as the Middle East is concerned, Conor Cruise O'Brien is simply a crusading propagandist ('Puncturing the PLO illusion', 16 May). In the study of international relations there has always been a realistic school and an idealistic school. Dr O'Brien obviously chooses to belong to the realistic school, but I believe someone needs to remind him that realistic does not necessarily mean immoral.

The PLO non-existent? It has been my belief, for more than two decades, that the PLO is at the same time an institution and an idea. If 10,000 happen to work within the institution, the six million Palestinians are the powerful vehicles of the idea. And the idea is simple: it is our sense of identity and our ceaseless quest for self-determination and sovereignty.

Is the Oslo Agreement workable? I can assure Mr O'Brien that, on the ground and at the negotiating table, Palestine is resurrecting and, as Mr O'Brien knows, we in Jerusalem have had some previous experience in resurrection. This might not be music to his ears but out of realism - or resignation - I advise him to try to grow accustomed to the new emerging realities of the Middle East.

Yours faithfully,

AFIF SAFIEH

Palestinian General Delegate to the United Kingdom

London, SW7

16 May

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