On June 19, 2002, the Palestinian daily Al-Quds published a communiqué regarding Palestinian martyrdom attacks. The communiqué was signed by 55 prominent Palestinians, among them Sari Nusseibeh and Hanan Ashrawi. Two days later, the communiqué was reissued with modifications and additional signatures. Additionally, an English translation was published in The Jerusalem Times (Palestinian Authority), on June 20. The following is the text of both issues of the communiqué as well as reactions of Palestinian public figures:
Communiqué: First Release
"Out of our national responsibility, and due to the gravity of the situation the Palestinian people is in, we, the undersigned, wish to hope that those behind the military actions aimed at [harming] citizens in Israel will reconsider [their acts] and cease pushing our youth to carry out these operations, because we do not see them as leading to any results except for increased hatred, enmity, and hostility between the two peoples, deepening the chasm between them, and destroying the possibility of both peoples living alongside each other in peace in two neighboring states."
"We maintain that these operations achieve no progress towards the realization of our [national] plan calling for freedom and independence. On the contrary: They increase unity among the enemies of peace on the other side [Israel] and provide excuses for the aggressive government, at the head of which stands Sharon, to continue the cruel and aggressive war he wages against our people – [a war] that targets our villages, our cities, our elderly, and our children, as well as our achievements, our hopes, and our national program."
"Military operations can be judged to be positive or negative only by the extent to which they realize political goals. Accordingly, there is a need to reconsider these acts, knowing that we do not think that encouraging the reciprocal existential fighting between the two peoples in the holy land will lead to anything except destruction and ruin for all people of this region. We find no logical, human, or political justification for this outcome."
"We call on everyone who supports this call to add his signature via fax no. 02-6277166."
"The communiqué will be reissued soon."
"This communiqué was published with funding provided by the European Union for the popular peace campaign."
Communiqué: Second Release with Modifications
When the communiqué was republished two days later in Al-Quds, it contained 315 signatories, including Maiys 'Ouda, a 10-year-old girl, former PA minister Ziyad Abu Ziyad, and member of the PLC and head of its political committee, Ziyad Abu Amru. The information regarding the communiqué's EU funding was removed, and in its place was a note that the signatories' names appeared in the order of their signature. The following announcement was also added:
"Needless to say, all the signatories to this communiqué strongly condemn all measures implemented by the Israeli repression against our people, including the policy of incursions, assassinations, and siege, and stress that the occupation is the basis of the tragedy to which our people is subject and that resistance is a right and an obligation."
These two changes reflect criticism of the signatories as described below.
Criticism I: PLC/Fatah Member Hatem Abd Al-Qader
In an interview with the Arab-Israeli weekly Al-Sinara, Palestinian Legislative Council member and Fatah leadership member Hatem Abd Al-Qader stated: "This communiqué is not acceptable to the Fatah movement. It is an unbalanced communiqué because it refers to operations against Israeli citizens but not to crimes being perpetrated by Sharon against the Palestinian people. The [signatories] should have also focused on these crimes. If these operations are terrorist, then what Sharon is carrying out is also terror, and terror cannot be looked at with only one eye."
When the interviewer noted that the communiqué did refer to Sharon and the Israeli government's operations in the territories, Abd Al-Qader stated: "I know what was written in the communiqué. It was shown to me, but I refused to sign it. It is true that the communiqué takes a direction in which there is a certain degree of common sense, but it is still unbalanced. We could have [accepted] a communiqué that would set matters in their proper framework. We are completely against the killing of civilians from both sides; neither are we in love with bloodshed. But the question is, how can this cycle be broken? It must be done by stopping the aggression against the Palestinian people."
The interviewer proceeded to ask, "What are the conditions for stopping the martyrdom operations?" Abd Al-Qader replied: "Concrete efforts could be invested in stopping these operations if Israel would commit to five things:"
"First, it must undertake to stop the aggression against the Palestinian people –
that is, stop the incursions. Second, it must withdraw from the occupied Palestinian areas. Third, it must lift the siege from the Palestinian people living inside prisons. Fourth, it must release all [Palestinian] prisoners. Fifth, the international community must provide us with guarantees that [we will be able] to actualize our right to maintain resistance in the 1967 areas…"
The interviewer then stated: "But President Yasser Arafat issued a communiqué in which he demanded a stop to the operations; he even attacked them."
Abd Al-Qader responded: "The ones who carry out these operations are local leaders… Even the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades decisions depend today on the political situation… The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which is Fatah's military wing, is not subject to a central decision of the political leadership… Arafat has almost no control and the one who bears the responsibility is Israel…"
Criticism II: Top Hamas Official Dr. Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Rantisi
In another Al-Sinara interview, Dr. Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Rantisi, one of the Hamas heads in the Gaza Strip, was also asked about the communiqué. He said: "We are not preventing anyone from expressing his opinion as he wishes. Most of the communiqué's signatories have no connection to the resistance and they do not believe at all in the resistance of the Palestinian people... We realize there is disagreement, but we look at the Palestinian street following Tuesday's operation by Hamas and Monday's operation by Fatah in Jerusalem and following other operations, and we realize that as a rule, the Palestinian people supports the resistance, as do the various Palestinian factions…"
"The communiqué's signatories ignored the siege on the Palestinian people, and began to talk about the suffering of the aggressor – thus arousing the ire of the Palestinian street… This communiqué was paid for by Europe. Instead of Europe feeding the hungry among the Palestinian people, it funds communiqués containing political positions that negate the resistance of the Palestinian people."
Criticism III: Al-Rantisi on the Hamas Website
In an article posted on the Hamas website, Al-Rantisi wrote: "…Why did you not [endorse what] Ted Turner, the founder of CNN network, said when he showed understanding for the martyrdom operations being carried out by Palestinians against the Zionist military machine… Your friend Uri Avneri, of the Zionist Peace Now bloc, was more balanced than you; this raises many question marks regarding the goals of this accursed communiqué… If Avneri attested that millions support the resistance and Jihad, whom do you represent, Oh [signatories] of the European-supported communiqué? Why don't you direct your arrows at the real causes of hatred and enmity? Or do you think we must agree to the occupation and its actions?… Oh signatories to the communiqué supported by the Euro – I remind you that the Palestinian people is supported by blood."