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memri
November 30, 2009 No.
2664

Palestinian Officials Threaten to Renew Armed Struggle, Launch Third Intifada

After Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gained the considerable achievements of convening the Sixth Fatah General Congress, winning the movement's confidence, and strengthening his position within it, he has now taken three significant blows: Hamas' smear campaign against him following his delay of the U.N. vote on the Goldstone Report; Hamas' refusal to sign the intra-Palestinian reconciliation agreement in Cairo; and the U.S.'s refusal to back him in his demand for a settlement freeze as a precondition for renewing negotiations with Israel. These blows are perhaps what prompted him to announce that he will not run in the next Palestinian elections, slated for January 2010. His announcement may have also been an attempt to pressure the U.S. and Israel into changing their positions.

Following these developments, senior Fatah and PA officials began to escalate their statements and emphasize the alternatives to the negotiations with Israel, including the option of renewing the armed struggle and launching a third intifada should the option of negotiations fail.

Following are excerpts from several statements in this vein by Palestinian officials and from the Palestinian press:

All Forms of Struggle Are Possible

Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Sha'ath said in an interview: "Today we have the right to return to the armed struggle in order to restore our rights. For 18 years we tried to negotiate, but Israel has continued its aggression, destruction, massacres and [construction of] settlements. Today we have the right to turn back to the alternative [routes]... If negotiations fail, we will turn to armed struggle. This is our right, as I have said... International law stipulates that, when an occupying [force] takes one's land and harms one's honor, one has the right to resort to armed struggle." [1]

Fatah Central Committee member Muhammad Dahlan said that should the PA fail to obtain a UN Security Council resolution endorsing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, the Central Committee and the PLO Executive Committee would have a bank of alternative ideas and proposals, in addition to the option of widespread popular resistance against the settlements, the [separation] fence, and the occupation. "We are tired of the occupation, and have a natural and legitimate right to oppose it by all means that are legal and sanctioned by international [law] and UN resolutions," he said. [2]

Mahmoud Abbas himself spoke in favor of armed resistance at a rally marking the fifth anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death: "We will continue [Arafat's] long and exhausting struggle [that was] fraught with blood, sweat, and tears. The road [we are traveling] today is anchored in a noble heritage of struggle that we built with brave hands, an enlightened mind, and a national thinking [rooted in] long experience. We combined armed struggle with political activity. Our guns were not the guns of highway robbers. They were political guns [promoting] a noble goal." [3]

The Option of Armed Struggle Has Not Been Eliminated

Amin Maqboul, secretary-general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, said that the confrontation with Israel "clearly includes [the option of] armed struggle. This option has not been eliminated; it was approved at the Sixth [Fatah] General Congress, and is one of [our] options." [4]

Fatah Central Committee member Marwan Al-Barghouthi, who is imprisoned in Israel, said: "I have always called for creatively combining negotiations with resistance and political, diplomatic and popular activism. I warned against relying exclusively on negotiations, but some were late to discover this." [5]

Hafez Al-Barghouthi, editor of the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, wrote: "[We] must bring things to the point of no return: either [we obtain] a fully sovereign Palestinian state in the June 4, 1967 borders, or the flood will descend...

"The Palestinian people will not allow its tragedy to repeat itself without a reaction. If it must choose between a quick death and a slow one, it will choose the short road and set the land on fire everywhere...

"We owe nothing to anyone. On the contrary, it is others who owe us a huge debt. If the roads to peace are blocked by settlements and international conspiracies, we will turn ourselves into paragons of sacrifice... When we no longer have anything to lose, it will be [the Israelis] who will lose..." [6]

On November 15, 2009, on the anniversary of Arafat's 1988 declaration of independence, Fatah's military branches issued a communiqué, which was posted on the PLO-affiliated website www.suqoor.com. In it, they promised to continue the resistance: "We emphasize our full and legitimate right to resist and defend our Palestinian people. [We also] condemn the actions [of Hamas], which trumpets slogans of praise for the resistance but in actuality prevents [resistance]." [7]

A member of the Fatah Central Committee told the Qatari daily Al-Arab: "The [Fatah] movement has taken a decision to launch a third intifada in the West Bank in response to Israel's stubbornness and the failure of the political process, [and] this decision that was endorsed by the Fatah Sixth General Congress... The third intifada will be more intense than the previous ones, but will be confined to popular [resistance] without the use of firearms."

He added that the tactics will focus on surrounding the Jewish settlements with thousands of Palestinians, and that PA President Mahmoud Abbas agreed with Fatah's decision that this intifada will be non-military in nature. [8]

Endnotes:

[1] El-Shourouq (Tunisia), November 15, 2009.

[2] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), November 16, 2009.

[3] Al-Ayyam (PA), November 12, 2009.

[4] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), November 17, 2009.

[5] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), November 20, 2009.

[6] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), November 15, 2009.

[7] www.suqoor.com, www.paleyad.com, November 2009.

[8] Al-Arab (Qatar), November 20, 2009. An editorial in the Saudi daily Al-Watan stated that currently, after the Palestinians have admitted that the years-long negotiations have failed, their leaders are facing new tasks: "[Today] the Palestinian policy is turning towards new options, including [the option of] negotiations on a new basis. The option of resistance by all means - from popular [resistance] and stone-throwing to armed resistance - should not be discounted." Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), November 16, 2009.