December 10, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9674

Former Palestinian Authority Minister: Attacks By Individual Palestinians Do Not Serve Our Cause And Must Stop; The Leadership Is Letting Our Youngsters Shed Their Blood To Cover Up For Its Incompetence

December 10, 2021
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 9674

In a December 5, 2021 article, Ziad Abu Zayyad, a former minister of Jerusalem affairs in the Palestinian Authority (PA), called to stop the wave of terrorist attacks in the West Bank. The article was published in the in the daily Al-Quds, based in East Jerusalem, one day after a Palestinian, Muhammad Salima, stabbed and wounded an Israeli civilian in Jerusalem and was shot to death by Israeli police officers, and following several similar attacks over the past few weeks.

Ziad Abu Zayyad (Source:, December 29, 2019)

While harshly condemning Israel's policy and the police officers' killing of the stabber, calling it "murder in the full sense of the word," Abu Zayyad also directed sharp criticism at the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah and Gaza, which glorifies these attacks instead of stopping them. He accused the Palestinian leaders of letting young men and women spill their blood in vain instead of formulating a comprehensive national plan for the struggle against Israel. Resistance against Israel should not be a matter of individuals acting on their own discretion, he said, for such attacks do not serve the national Palestinian goal of ending the occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state, but only cause further rounds of violence and bloodshed. He called on the Palestinian leadership to stop shirking its responsibility and formulate a clear plan for the struggle against Israel, as part of which these individual attacks will stop.[1]

It should be noted that Ziad Abu Zayyad frequently criticizes the Palestinian leadership and presents alternatives to its conduct and policies.[2]

Fatah deputy chair Mahmoud Al-'Aloul pays his respects to the family of the stabber Muhammad Salima on behalf of PA President 'Abbas (Source:, December 7, 2021)[3]

The following are translated excerpts from Abu Zayyad's article.[4]

"If the killing of Muhammad Shawkat Salima, who was martyred yesterday when Israeli soldiers shot him near Bab Al-'Amoud [Damascus Gate] in Jerusalem, is not an act of murder in the full sense of the word, then what is an act of murder? He was wounded by a bullet in his calf, unable to move, and no longer posed a threat to anyone. So what sort of logic and what law entitled the soldiers to shoot him again and again, when he could no longer respond, until they ensured he was dead[?] I will not debate [the question] of whether he did or did not carry out a stabbing, but assume that he did.[5] Even so, was the soldier who shot him while he was lying helpless on the ground entitled to execute him and deprive him of the right to live? In every country under the rule of law – and Israel claims to be such a country – criminals are brought to court and are allowed to have their say. They are not [judged] by policemen, whose duty is to obey the law and make sure that others respect and obey it as well.

"What happened yesterday was murder in the full sense of the word, and is another in a chain of cold-blooded murders perpetrated against our children and young people, hundreds of whom have fallen in the recent years, so many that the refrigerators in Israel's hospitals can no longer hold them. This was a crime, and its perpetrators and those behind them… should be punished to the full extent of the law…

"However, there is another question we must face in a courageous, direct and responsible manner: Who sent the martyr Muhammad Shawkat Salima to do what he did? And if nobody sent him, then who is responsible for what he did?... We must not absolve ourselves of responsibility.

"Some say that resisting occupation is a legitimate right of any people under the yoke of occupation – and that is true – but we must [nevertheless] note that resistance should not be carried out by individuals, outside the framework of coordinated and harmonious national action. For individual action is nothing but useless bloodshed that brings no benefit. How many [Palestinian] children, [both] boys and girls, and adults have fallen? And in the final reckoning, how much did their death contribute to the national struggle to end the occupation? Was their blood not spilled in vain? The point is not how many Israelis we kill or how many of us they kill. [The point is that] these killings do not attain our [goal] of gaining independence and ending the occupation, and their killing of our children and young people does not bring them security… On the contrary, it only increases the desire for revenge, trapping us in a cycle of mutual murder.

"While I completely and unreservedly condemn the Israelis' killing of our young people, I [nevertheless] ask: Where is the Palestinian leadership, which is responsible for managing the conflict with the occupation[?] I do not refer only to the leaders in Ramallah [i.e., the PA and Fatah leadership] or in Gaza [i.e., the leadership of Hamas and other Gazan organizations], but to all the leaders, all the factions, all those who make bombastic speeches and speak in the name of the people and its destiny. Where are you? Where are your plans for national resistance? How long will our children and young people remain like a flock without a shepherd? Why do you praise and glorify these useless individual actions[?] Is it in order to cover for your helplessness as leaders?  

"What is your strategy for [attaining] victory and why are you not honest with the people[?] If you have a strategy and a plan for resistance and for ending the occupation, announce it to the people and call on everyone to join it and strictly adhere to it, so as to end all the individual actions. [Alternatively,] if you have despaired of the struggle and [want only] a life of hedonism and power, announce this to your people… The stabbings and attempted killings that cause our children to spill their blood in vain must stop. The leadership must shoulder its responsibility and clearly set out the means and ways of either waging the struggle or handling the surrender. But its silence and lack of a national plan is a disgrace that can no longer be accepted in silence."


[1] Abu Zayyad was among the Palestinian figures who, in the course of the Second Intifada, signed a communique calling to stop armed attacks against civilians. See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series 101 - The Palestinian Debate Over Martyrdom Operations Part II: A Palestinian Communiqué Against the Attacks – July 4, 2002.

[3] The visit was also attended by the secretary of Fatah's Salfit branch, 'Abd Al-Sattar 'Awwad (, December 7, 2021).

[4] Al-Quds (East Jerusalem), December 5, 2021.

[5]  The PA's official media consistently refrains from acknowledging that terrorists perpetrated the acts ascribed to them, but accuses the Israeli security forces of executing them.

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