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Palestinian diplomat to speak, Jan. 15

Afif Safieh, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization Mission to the United States, will offer his perspective on the relationship between Palestine and Israel in a lecture at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 15, in Dodds Auditorium of Robertson Hall. The free event is open to the public and hosted by the Department and Program in Near Eastern Studies.

Safieh, whose talk is titled "Israel/Palestine: History Is Undecided," is one of the leading diplomats of Palestine, having represented the Palestinian state in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and now the United States, where he was appointed in 2005 to his post at the PLO Mission in Washington, D.C. The mission serves as the Palestinian embassy in the United States.

Among his other notable appointments, Safieh served from 1978 to 1981 as a staff member in the office of Yasser Arafat, former chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, in Beirut, Lebanon. He also participated in the 1988 historic meetings in Stockholm that paved the way for the U.S. recognition of the PLO.

Near Eastern studies professor Abraham Udovitch was among five Americans who participated in the Stockholm meeting and invited Safieh to Princeton for the Jan. 15 talk.

"Given the importance of the Palestine question, especially in the current troubled conditions in the Middle East, we can expect an illuminating analysis of the current situation and the prospects of some progress on this very difficult issue," said Udovitch, the Khedouri A. Zilkha Professor of Jewish Civilization in the Near East. "For the Palestinians, this is a delicate moment both internally and in the region, and few people are as well placed as Afif Safieh to cast some light on this complex situation."

The talk is co-sponsored by the Department of History, University Center for Human Values, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Princeton Student Committee for Palestine, Princeton Middle East Society, and Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.

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