March 22, 1999 Special Dispatch No. 29

Palestinian Leadership Renews Calls for Violence

March 22, 1999
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 29

Since the signing of the Wye Accord, violent anti-Israeli rhetoric from PA leadership has been relatively muted. Addressing a Fatah conference in Ramallah on March 19, 1999, PA Chairman Arafat, as well as other senior PA officials, called for a return to the armed struggle against Israel.Many of these statements made reference to the Palestinian declaration of an independent state and threatened violence to any opposition to it. These statements were also made a few days before a meeting between Chairman Arafat and President Clinton. Arafat's decision to return to this rhetoric may have been informed by the confluence of the approaching end of the five year interim period and the Clinton Administration's investment in keeping the PLO in the peace process and preventing the process itself from deteriorating to an overall crises.

Following are excerpts from the speeches given at the conference:

Arafat stated:"...We adhere to the option of peace, the peace of the brave.We chose it of our own free will and we strategically adhere to it..."

"We will continue our struggle until a Palestinian boy or a Palestinian girl waves our flag on the walls, mosques, and churches of Jerusalem, the capital of our independent state, whether some people are happy about it or not.He who doesn't like it may drink the water of the Dead Sea...."

"The battle of Al-Karamah[1] was the first Arab victory after the war of 1967.Let the far and the near know on this occasion that the Fatah movement is ready to fight battles like Al-Karamah daily, if anyone tries to diminish our legitimate rights and our right to declare a state."[2]

Commissioner of the PA's Political Guidance Directorate, Othman Abu Gharbiyya, addressing "mothers of martyrs" in Gaza: "Our people are the people of martyrs and we are all seekers of martydom..."

"The 4th of May is a holy day and all options are [still] open to us.Peace is a higher humane value and a noble goal, but freedom and honor precede peace.There cannot be peace without independence, without freedom, and without honor.There can also be no peace without Jerusalem becoming the capital of our state..."

"The dreams of our people will not come to an end - not even after the establishment of the independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.Our dreams exceed the borders of Palestine to the borders of history, the borders of the Arab nation, and the borders of the Arab cultural renaissance to which we aspire. Our choice is Arab and this is our pledge to the martyrs, our commitment to Kamal Udwan, to Abu Iyyad (Salah Khalaf), to Abu Yussuf Al-Najjar, to Abu Jihad (Khalil Al-Wazir), and our commitment to our great political guidance Commissioner, Majed Abu-Sharar.[3] The commitment remains: Revolution until victory."[4]

Rasha Fatuh, Head of the Youth Department in the Political Guidance Directorate mentioned the "pioneer role of the martyrs" and stated: "We promise our heroes and all the faithful warriors that we will continue to march with a loyal word and a brave gunshot until the liberation of Palestine, all of Palestine. For the sake of the Palestinian homeland we wave the flags of victory and chant in a loud voice: 'the soul and the blood we will give to thee, oh martyr, the soul and the blood we will give for thee, oh Palestine.'"[5]

Fuad Abu Hijla writes in his daily column: "...There might be some among us who fear the Israeli reaction [to a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state]... but they always stand in the back and leave the front line to the vanguard and to those who race for martyrdom... we say to President Arafat: 'we are all your people and we follow you in the voyage of statehood.'We say to the Chief Commander: 'we are all your army and your soldiers in the return to revolution.' [6]"

[1] A village in the lower Jordan valley that was the site of a battle between the Israeli army and the Fatah (as well as other organizations) on March 21, 1968.

[2] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 20, 1999.

[3] Majed Abu-Sharar was killed in Italy in 1981.

[4] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 20, 1999.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 21, 1999.

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