Diana Buttu–A Palestinian Negotiator

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Diana Buttu spoke last March, but your reporter is only writing it up the second week of September because of the urgency of the upcoming bid for Palestinian Statehood at the U.N. (United Nations) in New York City (N.Y.C.) soon.

Diana Buttu is a Palestinian-Canadian lawyer and a former spokeswoman for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). She is best known for her work as a legal adviser and a negotiator in the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Dr. Buttu was born in Canada to Palestinian parents. She received her B.A. in Middle East and Islamic Studies, an LL.M. from the University of Toronto, a JD from Queen’s University Faculty of Law, a J.S.M. from Stanford Law School and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern.

Diana was born and raised in Canada yet her parents were Palestinian citizens of Israel. Still, they hardly ever discussed their Palestinian identity at home, for the prejudices and injustices against them in the Zionist sphere forced them to exit their natal territory. They moved out of the Middle East to protect their children from the disrespect and the day-to-day bodily dangers there.

She only returned as a visitor in 1987 — shortly before the outbreak of the Second Intifada — and “Seeing the images, and asking people about them created this personal awakening,” within me. She explains. “I realized I was Palestinian and a part of this big nation.” She, then, accepted a position with the Negotiations Support Unit (N.S.U.) – the only female advisor to the Palestinian Authority (PA) — of the Muslim-dominated but bi-sectarian PLO. She found her work to be “…like negotiating with a gun to your head; where the people under occupation have to negotiate their own release!” Thus, the power over the weak became such that everything that Ramallah was willing to concede to their Jewish counterparts, was never acceptable to the latter. Further, the U.S. refused to recognize that transposing a populace out of their birthright illegally is illegitimate.

Buttu, finally, decided to explain the Palestinian story to the media. This aspect of her service angered her Israeli supporters, and cost her the NSU job. She has, also, lived in Gaza City testifying to the lack of drinkable water and electricity for the Strip to even fulfill its basic humanitarian needs.

Ms. Buttu, Esq. considers herself to be an unremarkable woman (Sic!); the only thing in which she considers to have partially failed is the negotiations in which she took part. As her introduction from Barbara Lubin the director of the sponsor, The Middle Eastern Children’s Association (or MECA), of the event stated that she is a real woman fighting against (real) repression. Why the PLO achieved legitimacy seventeen years ago and is now going for full international recognition at this moment at the U.N. headquarters on the Hudson is similar to the current unfolding events of the Arab “Spring.” At the same time, curiously, Palestina began that “Spring!”

In the (former Mandate/Province of) Palestine, the Levant was a tri-sectarian majority-Arab nationality. After the Partition (1948), European Settler Colonialism influenced one religio-ethnic group, an ad hoc pseudo-nationality, to supplant the primordial nationality from its territory.

Israelis have been dividing Arabic territory within the Biblical State in order to dominate Palestine. Israel also attempted to divide the continental European powers by inaccurately describing herself as a negotiator. There are benefits with negotiation, and that is diplomatic recognition; and therefore international rehabilitation, and more US cash.

During this period the Settlers multiplied; filling the valleys of Palestine with an alien people. Israel’s initial goal for negotiations was to legitimize herself in the eyes of the world — while displacing a place’s people. A Bantuization, a South African word that alludes to the separation of peoples during the Apartheid period, within the Holy Land developed. The Palestinians lost their identification of themselves and by others of being a distinct people since the 1948 end of the (already defunct) League of Nations’ Mandate.

The current upheavals in North Africa and West Asia are tsunamis, revolts against the division of the greater Arab nation after the two World Wars into subsequent lesser nation-states. This Revolt began in Palestine, she argues. Buttu believes negotiations will continue to discourage a substantial withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. Thus, the West Bank and Gaza will continue to endure Bantu-like cantonments.

Through its facade of false talks, the Israelis have reversed their strategy of “…carrots instead of sticks” whenever possible. Henceforth, “…we Palestinians must be the ones employing the sticks!” We (the PA and our civil society and the progressive international communes) must not be shy about boycotts (against the Zionist State) to convince the centrist Israeli of the international disapproval of their government.

At the time of her speech in this city (above), the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) passed a law to criminalize anyone advocating a boycott. This must be reversed! The international criminal renegade that the Hebrew State has become through her own government must be reversed by her own people and International People of Conscious for the sake of self-agency for the Palestinian entity itself!

Her (Buttu’s) Grandmother returned to Palestine (by then Israel), and latter informed her dear young daughter in Canada, “I had to liberate Palestine on my own!”