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memri
October 29, 1998 No.
10

Palestinian Reactions to the Wye River Memorandum II

Following are some of the comments in the Palestinian media regarding the treaty signed on Friday between Israel and the PLO.

Palestinian Opinion vis-à-vis the Agreement

A public opinion poll, conducted by The Palestinian Center for Public Opinion [PCPO]1 reveals the following:

1. 42.5% of the Palestinian respondents supported the Agreement, while 45% opposed it.

2. 25.5% supported the abolishment of pertinent clauses from the Palestinian Charter, while 61% were opposed.

3. 43.9% rejected armed activities against Israel in the wake of the Agreement, while 31.9% were in favor, and 32.4% abstained.

The Security Memorandum

Chairman of General Palestinian Intelligence, Amin Al-Hindi, gave an interview to the three major Palestinian dailies, in which he presented the Palestinian interpretation of a number of articles, which are in the Security Memorandum Appendix. Al-Hindi stated that the Palestinian Authority (PA) protected the right of any one to oppose the Agreement, "but no one has the right to either launch military operations from within PA territories, assist military operations, or incite violence… We are opposed to incitement and to military operations that emanate from PA territories, this is well-known…"

Al-Hindi's statement concurs with the December 21, 1995 Cairo Agreement between the PLO and Hamas Movement, according to which the ban on Hamas terrorism only applied to PA-controlled areas and staging activities from those areas, but did not apply to other areas. Members of the Israeli delegation to the negotiations placed responsibility for combating terrorism on their Palestinian interlocutors.Al-Hindi - for the third time in this interview - limited PA responsibility to only preventing terrorist activities that emanate from areas under its control: "We Palestinians are required to prevent operations or violence that may emanate from our territories."

About the Wanted Terrorists list, Al-Hindi said: "…we have lists of Israelis who committed terrorist acts against our people, we shall hand them to the Israeli side. These people roam with impunity. The Israeli side will hand us lists of Palestinians. We will look into this matter and deal with it according to Palestinian law."2

PA Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Nabil 'Amr, on the issue of confiscating illegal weapons said, "Weapons must not remain in the streets unless they are the PA's, as is the convention in every country. However, this should be together with [a kind of] Palestinian national and political consensus. We must confer with the HAMAS and opposition parties so that we make clear what sort of national consensus is needed on this matter."3

PA Minister Tala Sidr also responded to criticism about the collection of illegal weapons, saying, "…Even Syria, which has occupied territories - the Golan Heights - does not leave weapons to civilians." He explained that the proliferation of weapons "causes many problems to Palestinians, because they are used in feuds." He said that confiscating the weapons "does not constitute an encroachment on human dignity."4

Interpretations of the Agreement

Amin Al-Hindi was asked about the Israeli reading of the agreements. His reply suggests that the verbatim interpretation of the text is not the only term of reference for its implementation. "History is indeed witness [to the fact that the interpretation of the stronger side prevails], but we have a few trumps, including the magnitude of the Palestinian right, the dynamics of reality and future developments in our favor. The balance of power will change, the US will not continue to lead the entire world on its own forever..."5

The Permanent Settlement

The 'Washington Agreement’ did not change Palestinian plans aimed at the expiration of the interim period and the discussions over the permanent settlement.PA Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Nabil Amr, said that the primary achievement of the agreement was that the Palestinians have not committed themselves to renouncing the 'national goal,’ the establishment of an independent state, "neither in terms of substance nor in terms of timing."6 Amr added that the agreement did not put an end "to the present state of conflict. The conflict will not end, unless we achieve our rights in their entirety."7

PA Minister for Refugees, As'ad 'Abd Al-Rahman, addressed a key issue in the impending negotiations over the permanent settlement. Replying to a question on a possible collective Right of Return to the nascent Palestinian State, 'Abd Al-Rahman explained, "the Return of refugees into the West Bank and Gaza is not [the Right of] Return that we are talking about. We are talking about the return [of refugees] to their homes within the 'Green Line’ [pre-67 Israel.]"8

Head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Apparatus, Amin Al-Hindi also addressed the issue of refugees and the Right of Return, saying: "permanent settlement negotiations will take up the Right of Return. I wish to assure our Palestinian brethren overseas and in the refugee camps in Lebanon that the Right of Return is a strategic [goal]. We insist on our people's Right of Return to their homeland."9

Ideological Changes

Rafah District Governor 'Abdallah Abu Samhadana , like many others, has commented on the ideological implications of the new agreement. He stated that the most important achievement was that the treaty was signed by a Likkud-led government and the extreme right. "This means that both right-wingers and left-wingers in Israel agree to a peaceful solution including a withdrawal from Palestinian lands." According to Abu Samhadana, this marks "the end of Zionist ideology."10

 

[1] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, October 28, 1998.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, October 27, 1998.

[4] Al-Ayyam, October 27, 1998.

[5] Al-Quds, October 28, 1998.

[6] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, October 27, 1998.

[7] Al-Ayyam, October 27, 1998.

[8] Al-Sha’ab, October 26, 1998.

[9] Al-Quds, October 28, 1998.

[10] Al-Quds, October 27, 1998