December 15, 1998 Special Dispatch No. 16

Political Symposium Held in Gaza

December 15, 1998
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 16

Following are excerpts from a political symposium held in Gaza, which included leading Fatah members, officers of the Palestinian security forces, PA propagandists and prominent intellectuals:[1]

Arafat's Advisor for National and Political Guidance, 'Othman Abu Gharbiya, discussed Palestinian readiness for a possible confrontation with Israel after the expected Palestinian declaration of statehood in May 1999: "A high [level of] preparedness would diminish our people's suffering and casualties. It cuts the path short and yields improved political results. Preparedness within Fatah and the security forces must be sustained very tacitly."

Hani Al-Hasan, Fatah Central Committee member, explained the differences between armed struggle and the political process: "Sowing is by the armed struggle, and reaping - by political moves. He who does not sow shall not reap, and he who does not reap is a criminal. This is because sowing without reaping is completely futile. When we are sowing, military action is [our] foremost feature, while political moves are secondary; at harvest-time, however, political moves are primary, while military action is secondary."

Many speakers addressed the political issue from a historical perspective. Palestinian Cabinet Secretary Ahmad 'Abd Al Rahman, for instance, stated that Israel "presently has means to control the world because of unlimited American assistance and its nuclear power." 'Abd Al-Rahman reassured his audience: "as far as culture and history are concerned, the Jews have nothing in common since they arrived in Palestine from disparate places around the world. We, on the other hand, share history and culture that are thousands of years old."

Palestinian historian 'Issam Sissalam also focused on the preponderance of Palestinian culture in the world, thus ruling that not even one grain of the Homeland soil could be conceded: "our people are the ones who have bestowed humanity with the three pillars of civilization - faith, liberty and progress."

Dr. 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Mazin, who is the Head of the Political Guidance directorate in the Palestinian Police, took the issue even further. Al-Mazin spoke of 'an ancient Palestinian history' which began, according to him, with 'a Palestinian Caveman'. He divided that ancient history into four epochs:

  • "Early Stone Age - 500,000 - 15,000 B.C. - when the Homo Palestinian lived in caves around the Carmel, north of the Dead Sea, in the Hula [Lake], Beit Shean area, south of Nazareth and in the Negev…
  • Median Stone Age - 15,000 - 7,000 B.C. – when Homo Palestinian began domesticating animals and producing his own food…
  • New Stone Age - 7,000 - 5,000 B.C. – when Cananites erected villages that were continually washed away by torrential rains…
  • The Stone Bronze Age - 5,000 - 3,000 B.C. - when Homo Palestinian discovered bronze…"

Other speakers focused on more contemporary history. Deputy Chairman of the National Guidance Directorate, Suleiman Abu Nadi, reminded his audience that the Fatah Movement and the PLO embraced the Strategy of Stages in 1974. Abu Nadi remembered the conditions that induced the Palestinian leadership to come to terms with the Oslo Accord: "our people's political leadership came to terms with the Oslo Accords after they had lost frontline bases which served the cause of fighting the Israeli enemy - in Jordan on 1971, in the Golan Heights and following Israel's invasion of Beirut - in Lebanon on 1982. Thus, the PLO's military capacity splintered onto areas that were remote from the main battle-front and enemy zone."

[1] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, December 10, 1998.

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