The Arab Thought Forum (ATF), known as Al Multaqa in Arabic, was established in Jerusalem in 1977 as an independent Palestinian organization. Based on democratic principles such as openness, transparency and freedom of expression, it provides a forum for Palestinian decision makers, public opinion leaders and citizens to express their views. It has no affiliation to any government, political party, or organization. The strength of ATF lies in its political impartiality, which allows it to freely engage with a broad range of subjects related to the Palestinian cause of democracy building, and ultimately independence.
As a leading Palestinian organization specializing in socio-economic development, ATF has served for two decades as an important platform for the presentation of development strategies for Palestinian nation building. Initially focusing on scientific studies and research, ATF has expanded to actively identify critical issues for analysis and public debate, as well as selectively initiating important pilot and long term projects in order to influence and contribute to the development of the Palestinian people.
Under its founding mandate, ATF has succeeded in playing a major role in influencing and shaping the thinking of policy makers. It has opened and maintained strong lines of communication with the Palestinian National Authority, Palestinian intellectuals and the citizenry in the West Bank and Gaza. Through these relationships ATF has been able to contribute to debates on the formulation of the new Palestinian Authority Constitution and draft laws. Thus it has demonstrated its capability and capacity to quickly respond to the challenges of critical issues which require public discussion, assessment and well-considered policy recommendations.
Following the signing of the Oslo agreement between the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Israeli Government in 1993, Palestinians were at the threshold of realizing their struggle for freedom, independence and prosperity. Recognizing the importance of sound economic and democratic formation and development, in 1994 ATF began working on redefining its strategies and philosophy to correspond with these changes in Palestinian society.
ATF‘s focus since 1994 may be summarized under these topics:
• The Future of Jerusalem
• Democratic Process and Nation Building
• Promoting Development Awareness -The Peace Process
ATF is committed to the goal of establishing an independent democratic state for the Palestinian people