By Ali Abunimah
"Figures working for the Palestinian Authority (PA) have recently been approaching Palestinian activists in several countries to invite them to something called the "Palestine Network Founding Conference" in Israeli-occupied Bethlehem in late February. The conference has the aim of creating "Clubs" loyal to the Ramallah Palestinian Authority and its leaders. This initiative is organized and funded directly out of Mahmoud Abbas' office and is directed by Abbas adviser Ramzi Khouri and chief of staff Rafiq al-Husseini (who has recently been embroiled in a controversy over corruption and a scandalous video tape which allegedly shows him). The document posted here is the program for the conference; it includes meetings with Abbas, US-backed appointed prime minister Salam Fayyad the Ramallah "Council of Ministers" and other PA officials. The program also includes a guided tour of Tel Aviv and a "gala dinner" at the luxury Interncontinental Hotel in occupied Bethlehem.
The US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), an independent community-based network in the United States, last November asserted that the Palestine Network is "part and parcel of the Fayyad –Dayton “state-building” initiative, run directly out of the highest offices of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah." It warned that the PA's effort to establish the Palestine Network was intended to "co-opt our communities in exile and undermine the Palestinian national movement for self-determination, return and liberation" and called on Palestinians not to participate in it.