October 26, 1999 Special Dispatch No. 52

PLO Political Bureau Head on Armed Struggle and the Current Peace Process

October 26, 1999
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 52

Following are excerpts from an interview with Head of the PLO's Political Bureaut, Faruq Al-Qaddoumi (Al-Quds, Oct. 20, 1999):

The Future of the Armed Struggle

"We are still in the stage of political settlement, or in other words, political activity, but I don't think the PLO has given up its rifle, even though it currently proceeds with the settlement process. We will fight as long as our lands are occupied and we will use the rifle because we want to liberate our land in reality. If the Israeli side withdraws from the land within the framework of an accord, then there will be no need for the rifleā€¦"

"[My message to the Palestinian people] is that it should continue the struggle on a daily basis. It must continue to struggle against normalization, settlement, and the demolition of houses. We must be firm in words and deeds, not necessarily through the armed struggle, for this is the stage of political negotiations..."

The Independent Palestinian State

"...[The Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital] requires a long struggle, because Israel may accept the idea of a state with no sovereignty and force many limitations on it, but the state must have complete sovereignty on its land, border-terminals, air, and shores. It must be a full member of the UN and Israel must not have the right to interfere in its matters, because it will be a state of full sovereignty. If Israel wants to impose its terms on the state, then the state would not be independent, and this is totally unacceptable to us..."

Israeli Society and the Peace Process

"The truth of the matter is that we were happy for Netanyahu's fall... but our position right from the start was that the Likud and Labor parties are two sides of the same coin. They only differ on tactics, but it was the Labor party that started to build settlements."

"Barak represents the Zionist movement and Israeli society in its entirety. Israeli public opinion has not been changed and has not opted for peace... The elections to the Knesset and the policies of both Likud and Labor clearly indicate the continuation of the aggressive settlement policy against the Arabs. This has been their policy for hundreds of years. Following the [UN General Assembly] Partition [Resolution of 1947] they took 27% of the Palestinian lands, and now they want to divide the West Bank. It is not that one Israeli leader or another is an extremist; Israeli society itself is intransigent. [Therefore] there is a certain need for pressures that would affect the Israeli public."

The Refugee Problem

"No Palestinian leader ever accepted the resettlement of the Palestinian refugees [in the Arab countries]. Also, no Palestinian or Arab leader, nor any Palestinian or Arab leadership, has the right to deny a Palestinian his Right of Return. This right was established in the UN and the Human Rights charters. This right is sacred."

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