Palestinians honor columnist Helen Thomas

Published April 3, 2012 12:54PM (EDT)

JERUSALEM (AP) — The top Palestinian envoy to the U.S. has awarded longtime American journalist Helen Thomas for taking a stand against the Israeli occupation, a senior official said Tuesday.

Thomas' observation that Israelis should get "out of Palestine" forced her into retirement in 2010 and was denounced by the White House and her press corps colleagues.

But Palestinians appreciated her position and Maen Erekat, the Palestinian envoy to Washington, recently hosted Thomas at a dinner at his residence, the official said.

"She meant to stand against (Israel's) occupation and he wanted to honor her," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the issue's sensitivity.

Israeli daily Haaretz said the dinner took place Sunday.

The official said Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi presented Thomas with the award, though he did not specify what kind of award it was.

Neither Erekat nor Ashrawi responded to requests for comment.

For many Palestinians, Thomas' May 2010 comments were seen as a call for Israel to end its decades-old military occupation of lands Palestinians seek for a state.

Others saw the statement, which was captured on videotape outside the White House, as suggesting that Jews should leave Israel as well. Palestinians "are occupied and it's their land," she said.

Asked where Jews should go, she replied, "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else."

By Salon Staff

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