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Diana Buttu

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Full Name  Diana Buttu
Years active  2000–present

Name  Diana Buttu
Role  Lawyer
Diana Buttu Diana Buttu SA Tour

Nationality  Canadian, Palestinian, Israeli
Occupation  ActivistNegotiatorLawyerLecturer
Education  University of Toronto, Queen's University

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Diana Buttu is a Palestinian-Canadian lawyer and a former spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization. Best known for her work as a legal adviser and a participant in peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian organizations, she has since been associated with Stanford University, Harvard University, and the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU).


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Early life and education

Diana Buttu Diana Buttu Palestinian Refugee Rights amp Negotiations

Buttu was born in Canada to Palestinian Arab parents. According to a brief biography of Buttu at the Institute for Middle East Understanding, her parents “did not discuss their Palestinian identity.” Buttu said that they tried “to insulate me,” having left Israel “because of the sheer discrimination.”

She received a B.A. in Middle East and Islamic Studies and an LL.M. from the University of Toronto, a J.D. from Queen's University Faculty of Law, a J.S.M. from Stanford Law School, and an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Negotiator and analyst

Buttu began her work as negotiator in 2000, shortly after the outbreak of the Second Intifada, by serving as a spokesperson for the Negotiations Support Unit of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The Economist described her in 2005 as being part of the closest thing to a Palestinian makeover. Al-Ahram Weekly ran an op-ed piece in 2005 in which she was lauded for projecting an image that was the opposite of the stereotype of Palestinians as villains.

Buttu has since gone on to work as a political analyst at the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU), “an independent non-profit organization that provides journalists with quick access to information about Palestine and the Palestinians, as well as expert sources, both in the United States and in the Middle East.”

Academic activities

Buttu has held a fellowship at the Stanford Center for Conflict Resolution and Negotiation and is currently listed as an instructor at Harvard Extension School. She is scheduled to teach a Harvard course in June 2013 entitled “Negotiations Skills: Strategies for Increased Effectiveness.”


In an NPR interview given early in her tenure as a PLO adviser, Buttu suggested it was the responsibility of the U.S. to solve the problem between Israel and Palestine.

“I had mixed feelings about negotiating,” Buttu has said. “There is a structural problem when Palestinians negotiate with Israelis. It's like negotiating with a gun to your head; where the people under occupation have to negotiate their own release.”

In a 2008 CNN interview, Buttu insisted that Palestinian rockets do not have explosive warheads, and suggested that Hamas is a result of the Israeli occupation.

Buttu proposed in a 2010 article that the U.S. make its aid to Israel contingent on its withdrawal from West Bank settlements.

In 2011, after the Palestine Papers were made public, Buttu called for the resignation of Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian chief negotiator, saying that the documents revealed how “out of touch and unrepresentative” the Palestinian negotiators were. In a 2011 interview, Buttu contradicted claims she had made frequently by saying that she was aware that the Palestinians had been willing to give up West Bank territory to the Israelis as part of a peace agreement.

Buttu maintained in a 2012 op-ed that Palestinian-Israeli negotiations are “futile” given the power imbalance between the two parties. “Every Israeli proposal, and later the underlying premise of the negotiations,” she additionally argued, “sought to accommodate Israel’s illegal behavior.”

In a CNN interview in November 2012, Buttu said that conflict between the Palestinians and Israel would not end until Israel was held “to account under international law.” This, she explained, meant forcing Israel to “completely withdraw from the West Bank and from the Gaza Strip,” thus allowing “all Palestinians to live in freedom.”

In a November 2012 op-ed for the Globe and Mail, Buttu called Gaza “an open-air prison” and charged that “Israel's latest bombing campaign...does not distinguish civilian from combatant, adult from child.” She accused Israel of setting “policies on the minimum number of calories needed to prevent malnutrition” and of strictly limiting Gaza's access to the sea.

Buttu reiterated in a January 2013 interview that the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, both before, during, and after her involvement, had failed “primarily because we had two very unequal parties.” In the same interview she expressed the desire that Mahmoud Abbas would “sign on to the International Criminal Court,” “hold Israel accountable for the settlement construction and expansion,” and “declare this apartheid.”

In a July 2014 interview with CNN, Buttu downplayed Hamas's alleged use of human shields, said it was not true, would be a war crime if it was, and suggested it was racist to assume many Palestinians would act as human shields. CNN host Jake Tapper said video of two senior Hamas officials calling for civilians to act as human shields to protect buildings targeted by Israeli airstrikes proved that it was a common tactic by the militant group.

In a July 2014 debate, Buttu responded to Hillel Neuer's request that Buttu should renounce Hamas because it is "anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-human rights" with "if you want me to renounce [Hamas] because they are anti-woman, anti-everything then I will also renounce Israel which is also anti-woman, anti-free speech, anti-gay, anti-everything." To which Hillel replied "Diana, what you are saying is preposterous. In Tel Aviv there's a gay parade every year." Buttu explained her comment was in reference to "Israel deflecting blame from its war crimes" by blaming Hamas.

Criticisms from CAMERA

In 2005 Ricki Hollander of CAMERA, under the title “Countering Propaganda: Focus on Diana Buttu,” charged that Buttu “sidesteps or reframes challenging questions to bring the discussion to her own turf” and “glibly dispenses figures to bolster her points.” She also accused Butto of “invert[ing] Palestinian and Israeli actions,” insisting, for example, “that the Palestinians never rejected a valid Israeli peace offer, but that Israel has repeatedly repulsed Arab peace proposals.” Hollander refuted in detail several claims by Buttu, for example that from 1997 to 2000, “not a single Israeli died of a suicide bombing inside Israel” and that Israel "ethnically cleansed" 75 percent of Palestinians in 1948.

CAMERA and the The Commentator detailed what they considered “lies” in a Harvard lecture by Buttu. “In her telling,” they wrote, “Qassam rockets don’t have explosive heads and cause no casualties in Israel; Grad rockets were not fired into Israel in the years 2008 or 2009; Richard Goldstone hardly retracted any portion of his eponymous report; and not one Israeli was murdered by a suicide bombing in Israel from the years 1997-2000.”


Diana Buttu Wikipedia