March 21, 2001
Special Dispatch No. 194

PA Minister: The Intifada Was Planned From the Day Arafat Returned From Camp David

PA Communications Minister, 'Imad Al-Faluji, visited Lebanon and spoke at the 'Ein Al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp. In his speech Al-Faluji stated that the Al-Aqsa Intifada was pre-meditated, and was the Palestinian response to their failure to achieve their goals at the Camp David negotiations. After Israel announced its intention to use Al-Faluji's words to support its response to the Mitchell Commission it was reported that Yasser Arafat pressured Al-Faluji to retract his statements. Subsequently, Al-Faluji announced that he had never made such comments.[1] However, similar statements by Al-Faluji as well as other Palestinian leaders have been reported previously.

Al-Faluji at 'Ein Al-Hilweh

"The Palestinian people is the strong half of the international equation. It is the secret code and the key to any stability and peace not only in the Middle East, but in the world..."

"You can be sure that your stay here is temporary. We will not allow any force to raise any issue detrimental to the Right of Return to Palestine. I congratulate President Emil Lahud who has said countless times that there will be no solution for the Palestinians that does not include their return to Palestine. To him we respond: 'Yes.' This position has the consensus of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership... We emphasize that the Palestinian leadership will not sign a peace agreement without guaranteeing Palestinian rights, and first and foremost the Right of Return, the liberation of Jerusalem and its return to full Palestinian sovereignty. These are our fundamental Palestinian principles, to which we hold fast and for which we fight."

"The Al-Aqsa Intifada emphasizes these principles and axioms. Whoever thinks that the Intifada broke out because of the despised Sharon's visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is wrong, even if this visit was the straw that broke the back of the Palestinian people. This Intifada was planned in advance, ever since President Arafat's return from the Camp David negotiations, where he turned the table upside down on President Clinton. [Arafat] remained steadfast and challenged [Clinton]. He rejected the American terms and he did it in the heart of the US."

"My visit here in South Lebanon is a clear message to the Zionist enemy. We say: Just as the national and Islamic Resistance in South Lebanon taught [Israel] a lesson and made it withdraw humiliated and battered, so shall [Israel] learn a lesson from the Palestinian Resistance in Palestine. The Palestinian Resistance will strike in Tel-Aviv, in Ashkelon, in Jerusalem, and in every inch of the land of natural Palestine. Israel will not have a single quiet night. There will be no security in the heart of Israel...."

"The Palestinian people are patient, but when they take action - no one can stop them. When the Palestinian people are seized with rage, the world [becomes] familiar with it."

"We say to the Zionist enemy and to the entire world: 'We will return to the early days of the PLO, to the sixties and seventies; 'the Fatah Hawks' will return, as will the ''Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades' [the military wing of the Hamas] and the 'Red Eagles' [the military arm of the 'Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine'].' A new stage will continue until the rights are returned to their owners... we will strike whoever blames us for the failure of the negotiations, because President Yasser Arafat's patience was greater than Job's. Arafat has become the Job of the twentieth century, because of what the US and Israel lay on him..."[2]

Past Statements by Al-Faluji

Al-Faluji had made similar statements as early as December 2000. Raed Lafi, correspondent for the PA affiliated daily Al-Ayyam reported then that at a Gaza symposium Al-Faluji said: "The PA had begun to prepare for the outbreak of the current Intifada since the return from the Camp David negotiations, by request of President Yasser Arafat, who predicted the outbreak of the Intifada as a complementary stage to the Palestinian steadfastness in the negotiations, and not as a specific protest against Sharon's visit to Al-Haram Al-Qudsi [Temple Mount]."

Al-Faluji continued: "The Intifada was no surprise for the Palestinian leadership. The leadership had invested all of its efforts in political and diplomatic channels in order to fix the flaws in the negotiations and the peace process, but to no avail. It encountered Israeli stubbornness and continuous renunciation of the [Palestinian] rights... The PA instructed the political forces and factions to run all matters of the Intifada ..."[3]

Al-Faluji's statement at the time were backed by Fatah Central Committee member, Sakhr Habash, who said in an interview with the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida: "In light of the information, [after] analyzing the political positions following the Camp David summit, and in accordance with what brother Abu Ammar [Arafat] said, it became clear to the Fatah movement that the next stage necessitates preparation for confrontation, because Prime Minister Barak is not a partner who can respond to our people's aspirations. Based on these assessments, Fatah was more prepared than the other movements for this confrontation. In order to play the role given to it, the Fatah coordinated its administrative, civilian and sovereign apparatuses, and was not surprised by the outbreak of the current Intifada... The Fatah movement believed that the phenomenon of comprehensive struggle would appear at the final settlement stage..."[4]

[1] Voice of Israel Radio (Israel), March 6, 2001.

[2] Al-Safir (Lebanon), March 3, 2001

[3] Al-Ayyam (PA), December 6, 2000.

[4] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), December 7, 2000.

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