The Arab Thought Forum (ATF) is committed to the belief that state structures must be developed to serve and be responsive to an active and critical public, which is conscious of its obligations and duties, as well as its rights and entitlements
Hundreds of Palestinians including groups of leading Palestinian politicians and public figures and intellectuals told British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday they did not want him to visit Palestinian areas, accusing him of excessive support for Israel. The prime minister came under fire at home during Israel's 34-day war with Hizbollah for lining up with the United States in refusing to back Lebanon's demands for an immediate truce. "He is coming here in order to wash his hands, that are dripping with Lebanese blood, with Palestinian water," the group of Palestinians wrote in an ad placed in the al-Ayyam newspaper. "We, the signatories... notables, intellectuals and political figures declare that Tony Blair is persona non-grata in our country." The notice said Palestinian leaders should cancel Blair's trip. It was signed by members of smaller political parties, university professors, activists from non-governmental organisations and hundreds of ordinary Palestinians. Asked to comment on the notice, a spokesman for the British consulate in Jerusalem said: "The Prime Minister has announced that he will visit the Middle East soon and that his visit will deal with the fundamental issues surrounding both Lebanon and the Palestinians. There is anger and mistrust on all sides." Palestinians are particularly upset with Washington and London's refusal to press for an immediate ceasefire after it became clear Israel would respond militarily to Hezbollah's July 12 assault on the country's northern border.