John Dabeet speaks with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken
by Margaret Hurlbert
January 31, 2023

MUSCATINE, Iowa–Ahead of his trip to the Middle East, United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with a group of Arab American leaders Jan. 27. John Dabeet, president of the United States Palestinian Council, had the privilege of attending the meeting and addressing Blinken and others at the State Department.

In the past two years, Dabeet has had several opportunities to advise on United State relations with Palestine, helping the Biden Administration craft their foreign policy goals in 2021 and meeting with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan before Biden’s trip to the Middle East in 2022. Dabeet believed that these previous opportunities led to the State Department calling on his expertise this time. “As the president of a major US-Palestinian organization, the US Palestinian Council, and my involvement with the Biden Administration even before he took office, my name is on the list of people to contact on US-Palestinian relations,” he explained. Dabeet received his invitation to the meeting just days before it took place and quickly made plans to attend this conversation before Blinken’s trip, which included a visit to Palestine’s president in Ramallah, Palestine.

During the hour and a half long meeting, each of the leaders present chose different topics to present to Blinken. This allowed them to cover as many areas of interest as possible without repeating policy areas and wasting valuable time. Dabeet focused on thee major issues. Above all, he encouraged Blinken to pursue policies in the Middle East that call for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. He emphasized, “if the US wants to solve the problem and solve it for good, they need to be very vocal about ending the occupation.” Dabeet also encouraged Blinken to have the United States work for the promotion of Palestine from an observer state in the United Nations to a full member. As a final point, he urged the reopening of a Palestinian office in Washington DC and to open a consulate in Jerusalem.

John Dabeet in the Thomas Jefferson Room at the State Department where he met with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and other members of his team. Photo courtesy John Dabeet.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Blinken took time to meet with each of the participants individually and thank them for their collaboration. Dabeet shared that Blinken encouraged him to, “keep up the good work in Iowa,” which he found inspiring, as it meant Blinken had kept up with some of his other foreign policy work at home. “He made it very personal,” he remarked.

Following this meeting of minds in Washington D.C., Dabeet felt honored to have participated. “First of all, for me, it’s a humbling moment,” he said. “It’s humbling to try our best to make life so much better for Palestinians.”

In the months ahead, DaBeet looks forward to continuing his foreign policy work with a focus on Palestine through both his involvement with the United States Palestinian Council and Americans & Palestinians for Peace. More generally, DaBeet plans to continue working with Sister Cities International and Muscatine Sister Cities to promote citizen diplomacy both nationally and locally.

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