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memri
April 20, 1999 No.
30

Interview with a Senior Palestinian Official

Following are excerpts from an interview with the Secretary General of the Palestinian Authority Cabinet, Ahmad 'Abd Al-Raman the Palestinian daily Al-Quds [Apr. 19,1999]:

Palestinian Demands from the International Community at the End of the Interim Period

"The international community advises us to postpone [the unilateral declaration of an independent Palestinian state]. We listen to them and say: 'what do you have [to offer]? Will there be a specific point when an international decision will be made to put an end to the Israeli plan? Will the Security Council, for example, convene in order to implement articles 6 and 7 of the UN charter on Israel - the same articles that were implemented on Iraq - in order to force its withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967? Will Europe decide in four months to impose economic sanctions on Israel, knowing that 97% of Israel international trade is with Europe? Will the US halt $10 billion in loan-guarantees, as did Bush, who forced Shamir to go to Madrid?' These are the practical questions. "

"We demand an [international] position that will convince our people of the credibility of its leadership. What would we say to our people after the Fourth of May? Should we say that we failed and that Israel made a laughing stock of the Palestinians? We need an international position we to base ourselves on if we postpone [the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian State]... "

International Involvement in the Peace Process

"There is not much difference between the two major parties in Israel, the Likud and the Labor... The fate of any government that follows the same path as the Netanyahu government will not be better... [The Israeli-Palestinian] conflict is not a frozen conflict, but rather active, vital, and hot. This was what led the international forces to pursue a solution. Had we continued to behave as quiet refugees and a restrained people without the Intifada - there would not have been a solution. The solution was forced on the international agenda... however, everything proceeds slowly and we win by points and not by knockout... "

The Partition Resolution of 1947

"We did not sign a peace treaty with Israel, but rather an interim agreement. We will not sign a peace treaty with Israel as long as Jerusalem is occupied, as long as there are settlements, and as long as there is even one single Israeli soldier in the territories occupied in 1967. The simple reason for that is that we agreed to the minimal level of our rights that were determined by Resolution 181. We mentioned this resolution in the Declaration of Independence [in Algiers in 1988] and said that it still enables the solving of the Palestinian issue. However, due to the balance of powers of the Nineties and the current situation, we were satisfied with the establishment of an independent state in the borders of 1967... "

Alternatives to the Peace Process

"No authority has only one option and one alternative. We never put all the eggs in one basket. As brother Abu Ammar [Yasser Arafat] said: 'All options are open to our Palestinian people.' Our backs are not to the wall and we did not raise our hands [in surrender]. We did not wave a white flag. Our people paid for everything we have with blood and more. We are not talking about a gift or a present. We struggled until we took part of our right. Our people, having struggled for 50 years, faced, in a specific international situation, an opportunity for achievements without paying a steep price. We support this path, the path of political settlement. If it proves to be a dead-end, the PA will not hide [this from] the people. We opted for political settlement in order to alleviate the suffering and reduce the casualties and we hope to fulfill our goals. But if our goals are not fulfilled, our people are ready to start the struggle over again. "

The Palestinian Authority's Struggle Against the Islamic Terrorism

"When the Authority arrests a Palestinian citizen it does not cause us happiness. However, the purpose is to prevent a greater danger for the Palestinian people, due to a specific operation. We have no problem with the Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, or DFLP. We have no ideological conflict [with them] and there is no Islamic-secular conflict, because we are all Muslims and have the same vision. What happens is a preventive-arrest. If only all the [political] forces understood the sensitivity of the situation. For example, What would have happened in [the negotiations] at Wye River had the suicide operation in Gush Katif been successful? The Palestinian Authority does not arrest people out of the love or in the defense of Israel, but in order to protect the Palestinian people, until we get something, until we get land. The timing [of the bombings] is controversial and damages the Palestinian interests... "

The Kosovo Crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

"The issue of Israeli security is the scarecrow Israel uses towards the world, in order to continue the occupation and settlement. The fact that they [i.e. the Jews] were slaughtered in Europe does not mean that they should live on the shoulders of the Palestinian people. If there was ever an ethnic cleansing in the world - it was in Palestine. They talk now about the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo? Why don't they open the file of ethnic cleansing in Palestine?"