May 26, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 722

New Palestinian Publication Calls for a Halt to Violence

May 26, 2004
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 722

In April 2004, the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Ayyam published a supplement titled "The Road to Independence and Peace," by the Palestinian Coalition for Peace. This coalition was established on April 25, 2003 by order of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, and is headed by former Palestinian minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, one of the architects of the Geneva Initiative. The supplement featured a number of articles calling for a halt to Palestinian violence and for an unarmed struggle against Israel. The following are excerpts from the articles: [1]

'Non-Violent Resistance – the Sure Path to Victory'

In an article titled "Nonviolent Resistance – the Sure Path to Victory," columnist for the PA daily Al-Ayyam Muhammad Yaghi wrote: "…The Mitchell [Commission recommendations] document … opened with a demand that the Palestinian side stop all violent acts… The Tenet [Plan] document … begins by demanding that the PA end all acts of violence and terror…

"It is clear that the policy employed to date by the Palestinian resistance in response to the Israeli crimes … has only distanced the Palestinian people from its goal of attaining freedom and independence. In Europe, which is our ally, the [Palestinian] military operations within Israel are depicted as terrorism, while in the U.S., all military operations, both within Israel and in the occupied territories, are [depicted] as terrorism. The policy of [Palestinian] response benefits none other than the extreme right-wing government in Israel.

"The answer to the challenge that has been forced upon us, that is, to be bound to the road map and at the same time to resist an arrogant government whose goal is to murder and expropriate Palestinian lands, lies in a fundamental change in the violent nature of the resistance, such that it will bear a nonviolent character.

"The transition to resistance of a nonviolent nature will pave the way toward isolating the Israeli government in the world, and will prove that the PA has adhered to the road map without any need for conflict with any fighting Palestinian element. Likewise, such a transition will motivate the forces of peace in Israel to play their part, which has died out following the continued violent conflict.

"More important, the nonviolent nature of the resistance will restore the conflict to its natural state, [that is], conflict between a people seeking to be rid of the occupation and a government that wants to continue it, to be rid of the [Palestinians], and to expropriate their lands.

"Change [in the nature of the resistance] does not mean a halt to the struggle, rather the cooperation of many more sectors of the Palestinian public in the struggle, by means of daily marches to the racist separation fence and the roadblocks … and demonstrations on the lands threatened by expropriation. This form of struggle demands a halt to all official coordination with the Israeli occupation government, including refusal to negotiate with it, because the goal is to isolate it in the world … and only when it recognizes the Palestinian people's legitimate right to freedom and independence in the areas occupied in 1967 will negotiating be possible.

"This struggle demands also not being in contact with the civil offices [of the occupation] and not purchasing economic products from Israel. Nonviolent struggle means a comprehensive struggle, aimed at raising the conflict's tension to the maximum, so that it will be difficult for the enemy and the world to ignore it. In simple terms, the goal is to prevent the Israeli destruction machine, tanks, and airplanes to act against a people that confronts [it] with bare hands only."

'There are Two Paths: Struggle for a Political Goal, and Struggle as a Goal in and of Itself '

In an article titled "The Dilemma in the Suicide Logic," Ahmad Daoud wrote: "…Whoever decided to dispatch the perpetrators of military operations has begun to flee the world of politics, due to the considerations and complexity of a hidden world, transferring the conflict from a state of conflict of interests among actual social and political forces to a state of a clash of two religions. That is, we have entered a new conflict – characterized by the policy that sheds the [yoke of] rational decision and enters a circle of fatwas and [religious] slogans.

"The current Israeli attack on the Palestinian people does not abrogate the importance of acknowledging the responsibility of some of the Palestinian factions for their being the captives of a unique view regarding the conflict – one which perceives the society, political parties, and currents in Israel as a single bloc in thought, identity, and decision.

"[The Palestinians] are permitted to demand a distinction between two paths. One maintains that the struggle is a means to a political goal that must gain broad popular consensus. The second sees the struggle as a goal in and of itself, and is a way apparently preferred among some Palestinian factions that exalt the military operations and glorify the suicide operations.

"This is not the time to discuss the phenomenon of these operations, but it is essential to discuss the political rationale justifying the use of this means at any time and under any conditions, that does not take political changes into account. This, even before we discussed the severity of propagandizing for these operations [i.e. martyrdom bombings] among the people, treating them all as victories on the path to the end of the occupation – while in fact the opposite was true.

"In addition, a fatwa elevating these operations to the level of sanctity bears part of the responsibility for the dissemination of the culture of murder… The natural partner to this culture is the blood-saturated and extremist Israeli policy."

'The Militarization of the Intifada was the Main Factor in the Disappearance of Order [in the PA]'

In his article "A Description of Our Situation…," Ziyad Barham wrote: "Apparently, the Palestinian policy has lost the fine thread that brought order into it… The militarization of the Intifada was the main factor in the disappearance of this order. Despite everything said at the beginning of the Intifada – in public by the Israelis and in a whisper by the Palestinians – about the capability of the leadership to control the military operations, it has become clear many times over that this capability is not preventing spontaneous or organized field initiatives that embarrass the PA.

"Likewise, the fog that envelops the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has reached the point of creating an incomplete picture of the situation in the field. These brigades have been revealed, more than once, as acting in disconnection from the political line, beginning with its disobeying, at the first provocation, the order to stop the shooting, and including participating in suicide operations against Israeli population centers – as if it were not enough that the organizations most active in suicide operations, Hamas and [Islamic] Jihad, have declared themselves outside the political line approved by the PA.

"There are many profound reasons for looking at the viability and benefit of these operations, even if they have reasons, such as responding to Israeli crimes, spontaneous adventurous operations, or the contagious Qa'ida disease [i.e. under the influence of Al-Qa'ida]. There is an urgent need to reexamine these methods. The communiqué which bore the signatures of representatives from the academic and financial sector, and which demanded a halt to the operations against Israeli civilians, can constitute a good introduction for responsible national discussion and dialogue, which will be unified in view and in plans for the national struggle, and in ways and means for realizing it…. [2]

"The circumstances are no doubt difficult, but when will they be easy? The squad that is meant to be the most aware of the worst situation on all levels is, unfortunately, the Fatah movement leadership, whose struggles for control within its branches and currents rend it and leave it with no control at all."

[1] Al Tariq Nahu Al-Istaqlal Wa Al Salam (The Road to Independence and Peace), Al-Ayyam (PA),April 2004.

[2] See MEMRI Nonviolence and the Fate of the Peace Process in the Palestinian Media, April 21, 2004, 'Nonviolence and the Fate of the Peace Process in the Palestinian Media.'

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