Washington PLO envoy says J Street members are ‘Palestinian allies’

The words of Husam Zomlot were warmly received during a 34-minute speech that talked about “two democratic states” and “a meaningful peace process.”

The head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Washington office received a thunderous welcome on Monday afternoon from self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” activists at the 10th anniversary J Street conference. Despite a speech peppered with obvious agitprop, Husam Zomlot was cheered heartily by attendees.

“It warms my heart to know we have allies like you,” Zomlot told the crowd. “Allies with such courage and conviction to stand up for what is right. You are not dreamers, but realists.”

The J Street lobbying agenda includes extensive demands on Israel and none on the Palestinians, apparently affirming Zomlot’s contention that an alliance exists between the PLO and the progressive lobbying group.

Before becoming PLO envoy to Washington in 2016, Zomlot founded the Palestine Strategy Group, an organization created to provide strategic and public-relations strategies to “help guide the Palestinian national project,” and “inform and influence policy decisions.” In a 2017 profile in Politico, Zomlot claimed: “How this conflict has been depicted and portrayed in America is wrong, inaccurate and misinformed. One of my main missions is to make it accurate. We will have to redefine the discourse on this whole thing.”

His speech on Monday was full of such redefinition. Zomlot laid out a platform to which he claimed the Palestinian leadership was committed. His list included a nonspecific “dignified and just peace,” “two democratic and egalitarian states,” and a “meaningful, genuine, credible peace process.” He also said his leadership was committed to “a two-state solution on the 1967 borders” which, despite the audience’s enthusiastic applause, would leave the Old City of Jerusalem, including the holiest Jewish sites, in a foreign country. Zomlot also claimed that his leadership is committed (and always has been) to nonviolence.

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