Palestinian Hopes for Barack Obama

In Palestine, as elsewhere, expectations are building that Barack Obama's presidency will herald a new era for America’s role in the world. If a just and lasting peace with Israel is to be secured, the US must act quickly, establish a mechanism to enforce both sides' obligations, renew its commitment to international law, and encourage the re-engagement of its Quartet partners.

RAMALLAH – President-elect Barack Obama’s defiantly positive campaign for change has inspired hope not only in the millions of Americans who voted for him, but also in the billions of others worldwide who could not. Across the Middle East, as elsewhere, expectations are building that his presidency will herald a new era for America’s role in the world.

Palestinians identify strongly with the civil rights movement in the United States. Many recall the dark days when American society enforced racial segregation. That the same society elected an African-American president only a few decades later renews Palestinian hopes that, in our ongoing struggle for justice and freedom, we, too, shall overcome.

Obama’s electoral triumph arrives at a symbolic moment in Palestinian history. This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the Palestinian Declaration of Independence. Drafted by the poetic hand of my late friend, Mahmoud Darwish, the text is nothing short of visionary. Whereas previously the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had campaigned for a single, secular, and democratic state across the entirety of mandatory Palestine, our Declaration of Independence endorsed a two-state solution.

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