Husam Zomlot

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Husam Zomlot
Husam Zomlot pro.jpg
Palestine Ambassador to the United Kingdom
Assumed office
October , 2018
PresidentMahmoud Abbas
Preceded byManuel Hassassian
Personal details
Born
Husam Said Zomlot

(1973-08-31) 31 August 1973 (age 49)
Rafah Camp, Palestine.
Political partyFatah
ResidenceLondon
EducationUniversity of London, (PhD)

Husam Said Zomlot (born 1973) is a Palestinian diplomat, academic and economist. He was appointed Head of the Palestinian Mission to the United Kingdom in October 2018.[1] Before his posting to the UK, he served as head of the PLO mission to the United States[2] that was closed by President Donald Trump's administration.

Zomlot is a senior member of Fatah, the main Palestinian political movement, and a strategic advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He previously served as director of Fatah's commission for foreign relations.[3]

Before entering politics, Zomlot was a professor of Public policy at Birzeit University. He was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University in the US and an instructor at the University of London. He also worked as an economist with United Nations Special Coordinator's Office in Palestine.

Early life[edit]

Zomlot was born in Shaburah refugee camp, a United Nations Relief and Works Agency camp in Rafah in the occupied Gaza Strip in 1973.[4] His parents were originally from the village of Simsim but left in the 1948 Palestinian exodus.[5] "In 1948, my father lost his home and his land and as a result I was born in a Rafah refugee camp," Zomlot told a conference on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Work and Refugee Agency, (UNRWA). "Millions [of refugees] suffer the most precarious existence of them all. Nothing is more hurtful to a human being than forced exile."[6]

Zomlot became politically active while taking his undergraduate degree at Birzeit University outside Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. There he became a representative of Fatah’s student movement at the university during the First Intifada.

In 1999, while studying in London he was elected as president of the General Union of Palestinian Students in the UK.[7]

Academic career[edit]

Zomlot was educated at Birzeit University in Ramallah. After receiving his undergraduate degree he worked as an economist with the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, UNSCO. He was there tasked with monitoring economic developments, propose economic policy alternatives and provide briefings to the United Nations General Secretary, Kofi Annan at that time.[8]

In 2000, he completed a master's degree in development studies at the London School of Economics (LSE).[9] He received his PhD in International Political Economy from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London in 2007.[10]

Before joining Birzeit as professor of public policy in 2012 he was Scholar in Residence at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government (2008–2010).  [11]

Political career[edit]

Zomlot served as a spokesperson for the Palestinian delegation during the statehood campaign at the United Nations in New York in 2011.[12]

He was appointed ambassador-at-large for the State of Palestine that same year, and also served as director of Fatah's commission for foreign relations.[13]

He became strategic advisor to President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas in 2015 before being elected to Fatah's Revolutionary Council in 2016.[14]

In 2017, Zomlot was appointed as envoy to the United States, taking over from Maen Rashid Areikat.[15]

His tenure there was cut short after the Trump administration decided to close the PLO mission in Washington DC and subsequently recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. In December 2017, the White House announced its intention to move the US embassy to Israel to the city from Tel Aviv. The Palestinian leadership countered by boycotting ties with the US administration.[16]

In 2018, Zomlot was appointed Head of Mission to the United Kingdom.[17]

Palestinian Ambassador to the United States[edit]

Zomlot was appointed Palestinian envoy to the US in March 2017.[18] There followed a period of intense bilateral contacts, when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Donald Trump met four times in the period between May and September 2017.

But efforts came to a halt when the White House in November 2017 informed Zomlot of its intention to close the PLO mission in Washington DC and in December announced its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and plans to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem.[19] The move undermines a significant Palestinian policy that the eastern part of the city, occupied by Israel in 1967, should eventually serve as the capital of Palestine.

The announcement sparked protests in the occupied Palestinian areas.[20] and led the Palestinian leadership to reject US mediation.

Said Zomlot at the time: "You didn’t take Jerusalem off the table. You took the table altogether. No one, no Palestinian, would ever be able to sit on that table. Good luck!"[21]

In September 2018, the PLO's representative mission in Washington, D.C., was closed but by then Zomlot had already been recalled to Ramallah.[22] As a result, what would eventually become the Trump Peace to Prosperity plan for peace between Israelis and Palestinians was developed only with input from Benjamin Netanyahu's Israeli government.

Zomlot nevertheless argued that a recalibration of Palestinian-US relations could have three positive outcomes: "it frees the Palestinians from the shackles of a failed 27-year-old, American-led peace process… it provides an opportunity to repeal a 1987 law designating the Palestine Liberation Organization as a terrorist organization… [it] will help redirect Palestinian attention [to] long-term engagement directly with the American people".[23]

Palestinian Ambassador to the United Kingdom[edit]

Zomlot was appointed Head of Mission to the United Kingdom in October 2018.[24] He arrived in the middle of Britain's process of leaving the EU and in his first year-and-a-half experienced two different Conservative governments and two different opposition leaders.

Since his appointment, bilateral Palestinian-British relations have deepened. In spite of US administration moves to defund both the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA, British aid to both has continued (and doubled in the case of UNRWA)[25] while the British government continues to support a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as mandated by international law.

As ambassador, he has criticised the Israeli government during the 2021 Israel–Palestine crisis.[26]

Other work/controversy[edit]

Zomlot is cofounder of the Palestinian Strategy Group, which was established in 2008. A Palestinian think-tank, the PSG comprises more than 100 members selected from a wide range of crucial Palestinians from different political, professional, and geographic backgrounds.

In 2018, just before taking up his post in London, Zomlot was forced to defend himself against accusations that he was a Holocaust denier. British tabloid newspapers made the allegation in stories about then UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn's attendance at Zomlot's wedding.[27]

"I do not deny the Holocaust, which was a heinous crime," Zomlot told an Israeli newspaper. "I know very well what happened to European Jews. I have sat next to the family members of survivors and listened to the horrifying details of what their loved ones experienced."[28]

Zomlot has been accused of corruption several times. Since his arrival to the UK, Zomlot appointed several of his relatives to the Palestinian delegation and was accused of money embezzlement, besides creating controversy over limiting the role of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) in the UK by controlling their funds and using them for personal purposes.[29]

A picture was posted on GUPS's official page showing Zomlot's bodyguard attacking a Palestinian student and a member of the GUPS in the Palestinian delegation office in the UK due to overheated conversation on accusations of Zomlot's corruption. In 2021 when the Palestinian elections were announced and before the PA canceled them, a page was created on Facebook: "Support Zomlot for Palestine presidency." Later on, Zomlot denied that the page was his.[30]

Zomlot is seen as a hero by the PA but viewed among Palestinian street and Pro-Palestine activists with unpopularity and lack of support due to the corruption of the PA. This draws attention to the thoughts of the Palestinian street on PA's role in cooperating with Israel and using the Palestinian cause for selfish benefit.[31][32]

Personal life[edit]

Zomlot is married to Suzan, a biomedical scientist, with whom he has three children.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Palestine’s new ambassador in London wants to reclaim the narrative for his people, Middle East Monitor, 10 November 2018
  2. ^ Palestine’s man in Washington, Politico, 31 March 2017
  3. ^ Palestine’s man in Washington, Politico, 31 March 2017
  4. ^ Palestine’s man in Washington, Politico, 31 March 2017
  5. ^ UNRWA at 70: Husam Zomlot, Palestine Return Centre, 8 January 2020
  6. ^ UNRWA at 70: Husam Zomlot, Palestine Return Centre, 8 January 2020
  7. ^ Palestine’s man in Washington, Politico, 31 March 2017
  8. ^ UNSCO at a glance, United Nation, retrieved 23 April 2020
  9. ^ Chevening changemakers, Chevening, retrieved 23 April 2020
  10. ^ Graduate destinations, SOAS, London, retrieved 23 April 2020
  11. ^ Uniting Research and Policy, The Peearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts, retrieved 23 April 2020
  12. ^ Day of decision on Palestine, The National, 23 September 2011
  13. ^ Uniting Research and Policy, The Peearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts, retrieved 23 April 2020
  14. ^ Palestine’s man in Washington, Politico, 31 March 2017
  15. ^ Palestine’s man in Washington, Politico, 31 March 2017
  16. ^ Why the Palestinians Are Boycotting the Trump Administration, The New Yorker, 21 January 2018
  17. ^ Palestine’s new ambassador in London wants to reclaim the narrative for his people, Middle East Monitor, 10 November 2018
  18. ^ Palestine’s man in Washington, Politico, 31 March 2017
  19. ^ Oh Jerusalem: Requiem for the two-state solution, The Electronic Intifada, 6 December 2017
  20. ^ Trump Jerusalem move sparks Israeli-Palestinian clashes, BBC 7 December 2017
  21. ^ Why the Palestinians Are Boycotting the Trump Administration, The New Yorker, 21 January 2018
  22. ^ Can the Palestinian Ambassador to the US survive the Trump era, Moment Magazine, 7 June 2018
  23. ^ Trump Is Giving Palestinians a Choice. We’ll Choose Dignity. The New York Times, 25 September 2018
  24. ^ Palestine’s new ambassador in London wants to reclaim the narrative for his people, Middle East Monitor, 10 November 2018
  25. ^ UK continues to be among top donors to UNRWA, Foreign and Commonwealth 25 June 2019
  26. ^ Israel-Gaza: Palestinian diplomat says 'people are dying due to Israeli occupation', retrieved 16 May 2021
  27. ^ Palestinian diplomat rebuffs UK media claims that he’s a Holocaust denier, Times of Israel, 21 August 2018
  28. ^ Palestinian diplomat rebuffs UK media claims that he’s a Holocaust denier, Times of Israel, 21 August 2018
  29. ^ https://ultrapal.ultrasawt.com/%D8%B4%D8%A8%D9%87%D8%A9-%D9%81%D8%B3%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B8%D9%8A%D9%81-%D8%A8%D8%B3%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B7%D9%8A%D9%86-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D9%84%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%86-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%81%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D9%8A%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%82/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D9%81%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B7%D9%8A%D9%86/%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B5%D8%AF
  30. ^ "السفير الفلسطيني في بريطانيا يستدعي الشرطة وتعتقل مجموعة من الطلاب الفلسطينيين". 20 August 2020.
  31. ^ "Corruption in the Palestinian Authority".
  32. ^ https://www.aman-palestine.org/cached_uploads/download/migrated-files/itemfiles/b2a7e241322895ba53fdd6425a55c40a.pdf[bare URL PDF]