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memri
December 12, 2000 No.
163

Palestinian Criticism of Increasing Extremism in Official Palestinian Statements

In an article published in the Hadash [Israeli Communist] movement's Arabic-language daily, Al-Ittihad, titled "The Glorious Intifada and the Irresponsible Positions," Dr. Mar'i Abd Al-Rahman a PLO official in charge of Pan - Arab and International Relations, criticized the escalation of Palestinian rhetoric that exceeds the political program endorsed by the PLO in Algeria in 1988:

"Several days ago, I saw a Palestinian official on the TV... declaring: 'The time has come to raise the threshold of our political goals and to demand the implementation of the 1947 Partition Resolution.'"

"First of all, I would like to remind this Palestinian official that he does not represent himself, his family or his clan when he speaks to the newspapers or the TV - rather he represents his political organization..."

"Likewise, he must be reminded that in 1988 the political organization to which he belongs recognized the Palestinian Peace Plan and the Declaration of Independence in Algiers and he himself was among those who voted for this plan in front of the television cameras and the international press."

"We must remind him that the Palestinian Peace Plan has since stated that our goal is the establishment of a Palestinian state on the lands occupied in 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital, and the realization of the Right of Return for refugees. We entered into the Madrid Conference and signed the Oslo Accords. Ten years have past since the new strategy of the PLO was established and subsequently [the strategy] of the Palestinian National Authority. We recognized Israel, and the Palestinian Covenant changed according to this new plan."

"Today, our people struggle and spill their blood for the sake of implementing this decision and establishing its independent state on the lands occupied in 1967. We ask the whole world to help us in realizing this goal so that our people do not become like the [Native American-] Indians of the Middle East... We seek a feasible justice, once we realized that seeking absolute justice in the present generation and under the international and regional circumstances would not serve the interests of the Palestinian people..."

"We must not play with the Intifada! Such behavior is forbidden, as it causes great harm... to the interests of the Palestinian people. These irresponsible positions push a significant part of the undecided in Israeli society toward the extreme right. In addition, they furnish the extreme right and the fundamentalists with effective weapons against our people and our cause. These individual and irresponsible positions take on the appearance of a powerful existential threat to the Hebrew state. The racist [Israeli] right wing, whose philosophy and policy favor a 'Greater Israel,' uses this pretext to crack down on our people harshly and to present us as a people that does not wish peace with Israel. They, the victims, have no other choice but to bomb us with tanks and airplanes... because they are defending the existence of their poor little state, while the truth is that they have the fourth or fifth [strongest] army in the world. They do not say: 'We want Greater Israel' but rather 'We want to protect Israel's security.'"

"...The voices we hear through the Arab satellites calling for the destruction of Israel and claiming that peace with Israel is impossible... are very far from the problem of Palestine and from the Arab-Israeli conflict. This distance is not merely geographic; it also [reflects] distance from... understanding the Israeli enemy and the Jewish problem, historically and contemporarily..."

"Likewise, those who advise us on a daily basis about the liberation of Palestine in its entirety must be reminded... that the Palestinian people have institutions and leadership of their own. Say what you will about them, but this leadership and institutions are the most progressive of all [similar] institutions in the Middle East. Yasser Arafat never forced himself [on the Palestinian people]... On the contrary, the Palestinian people elected him with a resounding majority... This people knows Palestine best. It is funny, and sometime sad, that some of the [Arab] brothers remind us of Palestine's geography and of where Haifa and Acre lie. They try to explain to us how the peace settlement, Oslo, other agreements and the negotiations do not serve the Palestinian people."

"We understand the citizen in the street and his sentiments when he speaks in such a language, in particular when he sees the Israeli obstinacy and the refusal of Israeli leaders to implement even the agreements which they have already signed... However, this honest feeling is not sufficient for the political leadership of the Palestinian people to base a political strategy upon it..."

"We also understand our [Arab] brothers who speak in such a way when they are far from the battlefield... We understand their national and religious sentiments, and we respect them, but we expect them to listen to the position of the Palestinian people and try to understand the complexity of our cause. We expect them to empathize with our more than 100 year of struggle, throughout which we have not tired and have not lost faith in the future... We are those who are fighting this enemy, every day for one hundred years, and we know it better than others do."

"As for those who spread nice but empty slogans - which are for the most part connected neither to the homeland, the struggle nor to anything else, and are almost entirely personal or opportunistic -- they will continue to spread these slogans, but will not influence the course of life..."[1]


[1] Al-Itihad (Israel), December 4, 2000