November 9, 2014 Special Dispatch No. 5876

New Israeli Arab Movement 'Kifah' Supports Resistance, Refugees' Return, Opposes Participation In Israeli Elected Bodies

November 9, 2014
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 5876

On October 22, 2014, it was reported that a new Israeli Arab movement was to be founded, called The National Movement in the Palestinian Interior (the "Palestinian interior" refers to Israeli Arabs), aka Kifah ("struggle"), and on November 1, 2014, the movement held its founding conference. According to the founding declaration and comments by the movement's founders, Kifah is a Pan-Arab Palestinian movement that supports resistance to the occupation and envisions the refugees' return and the homeland's liberation. Movement members oppose participation in both parliamentary and municipal elections in Israel.

The movement, headed by Ayman Hajj Yahya and Ghassan 'Athamla, was formed by a group that broke off from the Balad party of former Knesset member 'Azmi Bishara over the Syria crisis and Balad's support of the Syrian rebels.

According to movement spokesmen, most of Kifah's charter members are released prisoners and political activists, some of them members of established parties and some independent. The Lebanese daily Al-Safir reported that the movement calls for the establishment of a civil Palestinian state that opposes sectarianism.[1]

Kifah's founding conference (Source: Al-Masri Al-Yawm, Egypt, November 2, 2014)

The Movement's Vision: Refugee Return, Liberation Of The Homeland

In media interviews, Kifah founding member Ayman Hajj Yahya said: "The [movement's] vision is the return of the refugees and the liberation of our homeland from the occupation."[2] Movement activist Mounir Mansour said: "Kifah is a group of fighters who are mostly released prisoners from diverse political streams. They have concluded that activity should be renewed and revitalized, [with the aim of] returning to the authentic identity and renewing the affiliation with the Arab Palestinian people [among the Arabs] of the interior. In the wake of the developments of the Arab Spring, which had an adverse effect on the Arabs of the interior, we noticed the absence of the original nationalist Palestinian stream that had long defended the Arab nation and the Palestinian cause within that nation. [We noticed] also the vague Arab stance towards the American attacks on Arab countries... This movement is Palestinian, but it extends throughout the Arab world.[3]

The movement's logo (Image:, October 22, 2014)

"The Right And Duty... Of Resistance Are Sacred"

According to Hajj Yahya, Kifah is "inclined towards the culture of resistance, and we oppose the Arab regimes that collaborate [with Israel and the West]."[4] He added: "There are principles of the Palestinian cause that bring us closer [to some Palestinian factions] and distance us [from others]. There is a right, a duty, and a culture of resistance, and this right and duty are sacred. We cannot be close to those who harm the right of resistance and the Palestinian principles."[5]

In a recorded address that was played at the opening of the movement's founding conference, Abdel Hakim, the son of the late Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, quoted his father, who said that resistance was the way to restore Palestinian rights and that the Palestinian cause was an integral part of the cause of Arab independence. Hakim said: "The fact that the founding conference of this movement is held in such bleak circumstances of our Arab homeland, and especially of our Palestinian cause, prove [the truth of] the words of the leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, [who said]: 'It is the genuine Palestinian resistance, which represents the Arab identity of the Palestinian cause, far from the division into sects and schools of thought, that is the true compass of our Arab nation – and the only way to restore our usurped rights in Palestine...' As an Arab Egyptian citizen, I am convinced that the Palestinian problem is a matter of Arab Egyptian national security. The aim of establishing the Zionist state on Palestinian soil was to create a beachhead for Western imperialism to take over the Arab ummah. Therefore, I believe that any faulty, agenda-driven attempt to separate the Palestinian cause from the cause of Arab independence means burying our heads in the sand, and is doomed to failure."[6]

Also read at the conference was a statement by Leila Khaled, the PFLP terrorist who participated in airline hijackings in the 1970s. She said: "Where there is occupation, there is resistance. This equation is a historic law of peoples under the yoke of occupation."[7]

Kifah Is A Pan-Arab Movement

According to Hajj Yahya, the movement's main purpose is to organize the pan-Arab stream within "the Palestinian interior, in a movement that realizes our pan-Arab aspirations, especially after events in Arab countries that caused a clear split between the resistance axis and the axis of the U.S. and its allies..." He continued: "The movement is not religious or secular, but rather strives for unity and the combination of several ideas on a pan-Arab basis. Kifah will be inspired by all classic pan-Arab streams in the Arab homeland... It will adopt the strategy of popular struggle... The movement is pan-Arab in its inclinations and Palestinian in its roots. We want to bring the public together around the topics of the ummah from a pan-Arab perspective."[8]

Kifah Is Part Of The Palestinian People, Whose Sole Representative Is The PLO – But Not At This Time

As for the relationship between Kifah and the Palestinian people and the PLO, Hajj Yahya stressed: "We are part of the Palestinian people, which in turn is part of the Arab ummah and homeland..."[9] He added, "We see the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people, but not at this time and not in the current circumstances. The PLO must reform and must include all forces and elements in a national plan based on the Palestinian people's right to resistance and the duty to carry out resistance. This is a sacred matter that is non-negotiable."[10]

Kifah Will Not Run In Israeli Elections

"Kifah will not run in [Israeli] parliamentary elections, and does not see them as a proper arena of action,"[11] said Hajj Yahya, adding that the movement will also not run in municipal elections and that it would "keep its distance from [official] posts and from personal or material gain."[12]

Kifah's Founding Declaration

The movement's founding declaration was presented at the conference; the following are excerpts:

"The events in the Arab region in recent years reflect an old-new imperialist enterprise meant to reorganize the region into parts that are smaller than they are today... This new division deviates from, and is more dangerous than, the regional [division] and the Sykes-Picot accord. It is an ethnic religious-sectarian division aimed at hijacking the Arab peoples' enterprise of liberation from the tyranny and oppression of proxy regimes; it creates religious and ethnic sectarian entities that fight each other – [entities] that support, are conciliatory towards, and are allied with imperialism and with Israel, which together form an arrowhead to attack the resistance axis. [Likewise, this new division] will ensure the continued rule and hegemony of imperialism and of Israel in the region, in addition to the looting of the region's resources, the exploitation of its peoples, the independence of the occupation state [i.e. Israel], and the final blow against the resistance enterprise.

"This imperialist attack divided the region and its elements horizontally and vertically, into camps and axes. The most prominent of these are the American-Western-Israeli camp and the groups and regimes that support it, as well as the camp opposed to this imperialist enterprise and its destructive plans. This division has been reflected in all political elements and Arab publics. The cards have been reshuffled; there has been confusion in the political arena and among the people because of the policy of deception and because of the rapidity of the events, which are unprecedented, and of the well-constructed plots. This division has also had ramifications in the Palestinian arena in general and in the arena of the Arab publics within the 1948 occupied territories, which are simultaneously exposed to the harshest of [the Israeli] establishment's plans that, in essence, differ not a bit from those in the Arab region...

"There is currently a direct threat to the national identity of the 'interior' [i.e. Israeli Arabs] – an attempt to actualize sectarian and tribal affiliations that is supported by the occupation state and its institutions... [that is, an attempt] to turn the cities and villages into slums rife with poverty, ignorance, and crime, where there is no way to establish a healthy society. This [society] will be led by tribal, sectarian, or political leaders who maintain a truce with, and walk with the [Israeli] regime – leaders who are committed to the rules of the game that the Hebrew state has set for the Palestinians of the 'interior'... and for whom it has set in advance apparatuses of action, such as the Israeli parliament...

"These apparatuses, particularly parliamentary action, especially in recent years, have proven useless; they lead only to loss, never to gain, and are only a waste of energy. The Hebrew state benefits from them; they improve its image in the world and they gut the national struggle of its content and its effectiveness. There is no real return to justify the high price that the Arab publics in the 'interior' willingly pay in order to be part of the Israeli parliament. It is time for all political elements to take stock and seriously examine what should be the proper method of struggle – not just the most convenient one – with the aim of transitioning from what is in effect a paralysis of our national forces, which only respond to the media, into direct action."[13]

Kifah's founding conference (Images:, November 1, 2014;, November 11, 2014)


[1] Al-Safir (Lebanon), October 22, 2014.

[2], October 21, 2014.

[3], November 1, 2014.

[4] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), October 31, 2014.

[5], October 21, 2014.

[6], November 2, 2014.

[7], November 2, 2014.

[8] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), October 31, 2014.

[9] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), October 31, 2014.

[10], October 21, 2014.

[11] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), October 31, 2014.

[12] October 21, 2014.

[13], October 22, 2014.

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