February 11, 2005 Special Dispatch No. 862

Commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades: ''We Must Give a Chance to the Political and Domestic Steps Abu Mazen is Taking... This People Has Faithful Soldiers that Remain in a State of Preparedness to Respond to Any Offense Against Our People, the New Mili

February 11, 2005
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 862

The pro-Saddam London daily Al-Quds Al-'Arabi recently published an article by Nasser 'Uweis, an Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades commander who is serving a prison sentence in Israel. In his article, 'Uweis discussed the conditions of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades regarding the cessation of violence. The following are excerpts from the article: [1]

'We Will Once Again Give Political Activity a Chance, but the Occupation Must Know that this People Has Faithful Soldiers'

"These days many people are wondering about the [Al-Aqsa Martyrs] Brigades' position on the developments following President Arafat's death, Abu Mazen's accession to the presidency of the PA and of the PLO, and Faruq Qaddumi's accession to the presidency of Fatah. Perhaps all of us are asking whether the Brigades will lay down its arms. Has the justification for its existence come to an end? Perhaps the Fatah leadership finds it to be an undesirable [organizational] framework? Will the Brigades agree to a new cease-fire [hudna]?

"This must be made clear: there was no resolution to establish the Brigades, and it will not be dismantled by a resolution. All of these problems, grave as they are, are dependent upon subsequent developments. The Brigades is not an end in itself but rather a means that we wanted [to employ] to move from a state of silence to one of action, in order to end the occupation, to bring about domestic Palestinian reform, and to give a boost to the movement. Consequently, the Brigades will not be dismantled by fiat, and its activities will not end so long as there is an Israeli occupation that attacks our people and our land, murders our cadres, our youth, our children, our women, and our elderly.

"We, the Brigades, despite the fact that we paid a heavy price for the sake of the Fatah and our just cause, shall deal seriously with serious proposals concerning the future that are presented to us. However, we shall not allow any contemptible solution. On the other hand, we will back all of the efforts that Abu Mazen has announced for reform, ending the occupation, and defending national principles. We will once again give political activity a chance. We will not stand in the way of anything that is positive and productive and serves the interests of our people, but the occupation must know that this people has faithful soldiers and that they remain in a state of preparedness [in order] to defend it and to respond to any offense against our people and any attempt to harm the new military and political leadership. In this context, the imprisoned Brigades commanders much appreciate [Brigades commander] Zakaria Al-Zubeidi's proposal not to agree to a cease-fire until after consultation with all of the Brigades field commanders, both in the prisons and outside them."

'There is No Avoiding Completing the Discussion and Dialogue with Members of Hamas'

"In the coming period there is a need to adhere tightly to the declared elections programs, which are Fatah programs. The time has come to reckon with the corrupt, to remove them, and to deter them. They are a small group, but their activities are serious beyond all imagination. The time has come to curb the anarchy of the masses and to stop the demonstrative [toting of] weapons, which doesn't serve the resistance, and to deter all of those who exploit the situation in order to rob the citizens and their security and their sources of income. The time has come to see new faces in the ministries, qualified and truly patriotic. The time has come to put an end to cronyism, to the receipt of goods and services on the basis of one's connections, and to put an end to the waste of public funds that finds its expression in the arbitrary distribution of funds to relations and associates and to fictitious groups and institutions. The time has come to turn to the establishment and to act in accordance with the rule of law. The citizens want to see real, palpable action. Abu Mazen needs not to allow the corrupt gang to surround him, since they are the death of every sincere person, and they are a disease that destroys the land and its fruits.

"What is required is a new era in the full meaning of the word that will retain the good and will get rid of the bad and in which sacred matters will be respected. People will be equal before the law and all of the [police] files dealing with stealing and robbery which plagued the authority's institutions will be reopened, and so will all of the files dealing with murder and injury of citizens' security. National unity will be strengthened, and we must stay away from internal strife. Democratic principles will be strengthened by going to the polling stations to elect true representatives for our people, and all its groups, strata, and political persuasions…

"Concerning the [PLO] organization, the Palestinian National Council should be convened. It is unreasonable for the PLO to ignore our people outside of the country. There is a large diaspora in all corners of the world, yet it receives little attention. It is clearly in need of true representation in the PNC. There is no avoiding completing the discussion and dialogue with members of the Hamas movement, in order to come up with a unified national program that will prompt us all to participate in the PLO, which is the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people everywhere. All of us must know that the PLO and its legitimacy are a red line that must not be crossed. Establishing the legitimacy of the PLO has cost our people difficult battles and a stream of martyrs' blood.

"Concerning the Fatah, Abu Mazen, Faruq Qaddumi, and Abu Maher Ghneim [a senior official of the world Fatah] must work seriously to convene the movement's general assembly, to bolster the movement and its bodies with new people, and to do away with the principle of 'Membership in the central committee or the revolutionary council [is membership] unto death.'

"This assembly will be a qualitative turning point and [will provide] inter-generational continuity, contrary to what has been going on for many years: [the existence of] a generation gap within the movement, and of the separation and division between the top and the base that have existed for many years. In the same vein, the Fatah must be aware of the magnitude of the challenge before which it stands with the coming legislative elections. It is unreasonable that the movement should advance candidates who have injured our people and have encroached upon its property and its security. In the Fatah movement there are many trustworthy people whose hands remain clean and who have not been sullied with public funds or with the blood of the noble sons of our nation. One must steer clear of advancing candidates whose worthiness has not previously been established."

'We Must Act in Order to Give a Chance to the Political and Domestic Steps Which Abu Mazen is Taking'

"We must act without hesitation and without any tricks, in order to give a chance to the political and domestic steps which Abu Mazen is taking. We will treat anyone who attempts to foil these steps as someone who wants to preserve the state of anarchy, in order to escape giving a reckoning or explanations for some negligence, crime, or corruption here or there. The corrupt ones and those [attempting to exploit] the history of the Brigades are trying to disrupt Abu Mazen's course of action and his political plan, which is the Fatah's plan, which is clear, reliable, and firm. The Brigades will always remain united as one, as they have been in the past, always ready in the darkest hours to act and to take initiative and to adhere to resolutions... in protecting its people against any aggression.

"We will return to our school benches, our positions and our work, but we will be in a high state of preparedness to act whenever we feel that dialogue with the enemy is unproductive. No hudna or cease-fire comes without recompense. The recompense is that there should be Israeli withdrawal, the stopping of the assassinations, the release of the prisoners of freedom from all of the factions, the reckoning with the corrupt, the marching forward toward domestic reform, the tightening of supervision over public funds and the rejection of any partial solutions, the preservation of national principles, and the guarantee of a respectable livelihood for the fighters who put their lives on the line in the defense of freedom. This step needs to be accomplished in an appropriate manner that will assure the fighter of honor and self-pride; this is non-negotiable. Does this mean that the Brigades will be dismantled and will come to an end? No, the Brigades, like human beings, cannot come to an end, since it is a part of this people and it will be ready to act in any future battle [that will occur] as a result of Israeli aggression or attack.

"Finally, one must state that the Fatah movement is undergoing difficult birth pangs and nobody knows for sure where these internal issues will lead. The situation suggests the existence of only two options for the Fatah movement. [One option is] to bolster its own condition and that of the people, to conduct a serious and true appraisal of its functioning, to look for the future through sincere and qualified eyes, and to remove those who did wrong and were corrupt. [The other option is] to be wiped out and to disappear, which would be a blow to the Palestinian national movement, perhaps for many generations to come."

[1] Al-Quds Al-'Arabi (London), February 3, 2005.

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