December 1, 2000 Special Dispatch No. 160

Intifada and Policy - Situation Up-date

December 1, 2000
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 160

Situation of the Intifada

Palestinian officials continue to declare that the Intifada will continue. Yasser Arafat himself said in Amman: "The embers of the Intifada will continue [to burn] until Palestinian independence, the return of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa to Palestinian sovereignty and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. The decision regarding the Intifada is in the hands of the brave Palestinian people, who decided to carry out this battle in order to achieve its independence and to establish its state."[1]

Faisal Husseini, PA Jerusalem Affairs Minister, explained that the Intifada "is not an act of protest, but an Intifada of independence, and it must not stop before the occupying soldiers and settlers withdraw from the Palestinian land."[2]

PA Minister of Refugee Affairs, Asa'd Abd Al-Rahman, added that "the danger is not in allowing the Intifada to continue, as some believe, but rather in stopping it without any accomplishments or appropriate political guarantees that satisfy the national Palestinian and Arab Minimum Plan: the Right of Return; self-determination on all lands of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital."[3]

Othman Abu Gharbiyya, the Head of the PA's National Guidance Directorate, stated that "The Intifada will not stop half-way. It will continue until it accomplishes the goals of our people... In the next stage, we will achieve our goals -- the liberation of our land and the establishment of a Palestinian state whose capital is Holy Jerusalem."[4]

Use of Firearms in Demonstrations

In the meantime, the debate concerning the limitation of the use of firearms continues among the Palestinians. PA Minister of Supplies, Abu Ali Shahin, for example, stated that "The Intifada is a liberation movement, and therefore all means may be used in order to accomplish its goal."[5]

However, it seems that the Palestinian Leadership supports Arafat's instructions to refrain from the use of firearms in popular demonstrations and from populated areas, in order to minimize the number of Palestinian casualties. Dr. Sallah Abd Al-Jawwad, Chairman of the Department of History and Political Science at Bir-Zeit University, went as far as to say that the use of firearms must be avoided altogether. "The confrontations proved that the Palestinian side -- the PA, the opposition and Palestinian society -- is not ready for a military confrontation [with Israel], despite its demonstrations of heroism and sacrifice," he wrote: "The permission granted to armed Palestinians to participate in demonstrations and shooting on soldiers and settlers, must stop, although we know that it was given for the purpose of self-defense...These armed people, indeed are not lacking in faith and complete readiness to sacrifice, but are lacking in weapons, ammunition, experience, training and information, [as well as] discipline... The participation of these people [in the demonstrations]... served our enemies and gave them a lead in [the battle for] public opinion, as well as an excuse to use tanks, helicopters and missiles in order to depress the Intifada which is popular in essence...

This strategy proved its utter failure and led to great and unjustified losses among the demonstrators. The claim that the [Israeli] withdrawal from "Joseph's Tomb" proves the success of this strategy, is an example of the Palestinian's inability to learn lessons. The conditions surrounding this site are different from those of other military bases and settlements...Attacks on military sites or fortified settlements located in exposed areas, lead to nothing but great mortal casualties among the Palestinians and to grave strategic damage...

The use of guns during popular demonstrations is political and military suicide. We must focus on [popular] means of action that will deny the enemy of its primary force: its clear military advantage...

Likewise, we must find a strategy that will prevent direct confrontation with Israeli society, which would turn the conflict over Palestinian land into a civil war. The confrontation must be limited so that it is conducted between a defenseless people on one hand and an army of occupiers and settlers on the other hand."[6]

Targeting Settlements

General Director of the Palestinian Information Ministry, Hassan Al-Kashef, explained that the Palestinian struggle must be focused on fighting the settlements. "The settlements' fields and factories are a target for the rage of the Palestinian people," he wrote. "We must continue to see them as targets for burning and destruction; this is our legitimate right... The settlement will be the heart of the target at which all forms of the Palestinian people's struggle and anger will be directed... We must treat them as they treat us. We have a long list of names of aggressors and murderers among the Israeli political and military leadership. From the murderer Mofaz!"[7]

Fateh Central Committee Member, Sakher Habash added: "The confrontations must reach the settlements and the by-pass roads so that we may prove to the Israeli government that we can threaten the security of their by-pass roads just as it threatens and closes off our roads."[8]

Future of the Negotiations

The consensus among the Palestinians remains that the negotiations must not be resumed without a significant change in the nature of the political process. Most Palestinian officials demand guarantees for the outcome of the negotiations, as a prerequisite for resuming them. Abu 'Alah, for example, stated that the prerequisite for resuming the negotiations is settling the reasons that led to the outbreak of the Intifada. He named five such issues: "Israel's avoidance of carrying out agreements signed with the Palestinians; continued expansion of the settlements; the continued Judification of Jerusalem during the negotiations; [Israel's] violation of Palestinian human rights in contradiction with the fourth Geneva Convention requirement for the protection of peoples under occupation;... The Israeli approach to the solution, as it was raised at Camp David concerning the issues of Jerusalem, refugees, land and security, have only heightened the Palestinians' feelings that the negotiations are futile."[9] In another statement, Abu 'Alah said that transforming the status of Area B to Area A is another prerequisite for the resumption of the negotiations.[10]

Palestinian Minister of International Cooperation, Nabil Sha'ath, said in this matter that the Palestinians will not return to the negotiations unless Israel declares clearly its intentions to implement Resolution 242, and not merely to re-negotiate it."[11]

Palestinian officials continued to demand that the continuation of the Intifada be permitted, even if the negotiations are resumed. Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council of the Fateh movement, Qadura Fares, for example, stated that "there is no contradiction between negotiations and the struggle. Both are means of getting rid of the occupation, establishing an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and securing the return of refugees... The peace process does not nullify the Palestinian people's right to struggle to accomplish its goals, when the negotiations did not lead to the results the Palestinians had hoped for."[12]

A similar stance was presented in a communique by the PLO's factions: "The Palestinian people unanimously refuses to return to the futile path of negotiations that led to a dead end. A true breakthrough in the peace process requires a significant change in the structure of the negotiations process so that it secures our people's right to continue the Intifada and the Resistance."[13]

Threats to Arab and Western States

Threats aimed at the US have also continued. Deputy Head of the National Guidance Directorate, Mazen 'Izz Al-Din added to these, threats against European countries and even against moderates within the Arab states. "The Al-Aqsa Intifada has established new facts in the Arab region," he wrote, "it created a direct threat to US interests, and put the American forces in the Middle East in a state of alert. Several embassies have been closed, especially after the attack on the American destroyer."

"The regimes who support [regional] stability [i.e. Egypt and Jordan in particular] have begun to feel powerful and violent "earthquakes" because of the Al-Aqsa Intifada [that led to] massive demonstrations of rage, which may well lead even to the overthrow of the regimes."

"I call upon the Arab and Islamic nation to take immediate, positive and active steps against the Zionist entity: an overall boycott of Israeli and American products, severing diplomatic relations with Israel and reducing oil production - all in order to force Israel to respect the resolutions of International Legitimacy, as all the world's nations have done. I call upon the US and the European countries who are linked to the strategic interests of the Arab countries, to place deterring sanctions on Israel in order to protect their own interests, because the entire region faces a comprehensive explosion that will be difficult to control."

"Israeli casualties are great: more than forty Israelis are dead and hundreds injured. The Israeli media does not give the true numbers in order to maintain the soldiers' morale and to [prevent them] from refusing to serve in the occupied Palestinian territories."[14]

Role of Palestinian Security Apparatuses

At a press conference in Gaza, Head of the Preventative Security Apparatus in Gaza, Muhammad Dahlan, expressed his opinion about the role of the PA in the struggle with Israel: "The PA must be allowed to carry out the struggle with Israel in a successful manner. Political maneuvers and the actual management of the struggle must be left to the leadership. There are many issues about which the leadership cannot elaborate and which it cannot explain. We will not hesitate to act as the arrowhead in the protection of the Palestinian people. The Preventative Security apparatus is an arm of the struggle... it was not formed in order to help realize Israel's dreams, but to protect the interests of the people."

About Israel's claim to having proof that the security apparatus, and Dahlan personally, are involved in terrorism, he said: "Let them go to hell with their proofs. We will not disconnect ourselves from the people, and we will always lead it. We represent the people's aspiration and not the Israeli government. The responsibility for and carrying out of the [latest] operations are an honor that we do not claim. We are not fleeing responsibility, but at the same time, we do not want to take this honor away from the Palestinian people who fight against the occupation daily..."[15]

Secretary General of the Palestinian Cabinet, Ahmad Abd Al-Rahman: "Israeli aggression gives the PA, the Palestinian police and the Palestinian security apparatuses the right to protect its land and its people in places where the PA is sovereign and by all available means ... We implement the right to sovereignty and the right to use weapons in order to protect our land and our people."[16]

[1] Al-Sharak Al-Oust (London), November 26, 2000.

[2] Al-Ayyam, November 26, 2000.

[3] Al-Quds (PA), November 22, 2000.

[4] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, November 27, 2000.

[5] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, November 25, 2000.

[6] Al-Quds, November 26, 2000.

[7] Al-Ayyam, November 25, 2000.

[8] Al-Hayat (PA), November 27, 2000.

[9] Al-Hayat (London-Beirut), November 27, 2000.

[10] Al-Ayyam (PA), November 26, 2000.

[11] Al-Hayat (London-Beirut), November 24, 2000.

[12] Al-Ayyam, November 24, 2000.

[13] Al-Hayat Al Jadida, November 26, 2000.

[14] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, November 27, 2000.

[15] Al-Hayat (London), November 23, 2000.

[16] Al-Hayat (London), November 22, 2000.

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