Israel Resource Review 10th April, 2001


Interview With Marwan Bargouti, Tanzim leader
Charmaine Zeitz

This week "Palestine Report" interviewed Marwan Barghouti, General Secretary of Fateh higher committee in the West Bank, on the escalating crisis between Palestinians and Israel.

PR: Some people are saying that Palestinians have not learned from the mistakes they made in the last Intifada and are repeating them in this one. Do you think this is true?

Bargouti: There has been extensive study of the negative aspects of the last Intifada. Some of these aspects included banning workers from going to their workplaces, closing shops and allowing schools to participate in Intifada activities. Presently we are seeing these same actions, but it is Israel who is carrying them out. Israel has closed a number of schools and people have been forced to take classes during the evening hours. As you can see, we have reduced the commercial strikes and boycott of Israeli products.

Another change is that today, it is the law that is in charge of dealing with collaborators. This Intifada is different in a number of ways from the first Intifada. For one, it is more organized and it is more painful for the other side. There is also a kind of balance in dealing with the [Palestinian] people and their personal liberties. The door is always open for free participation from the various sectors.

PR: What about the mistakes Palestinians have made in terms of shooting?

Barghouti: Shooting is being used in the Intifada for the first time. We do not have experience in this. This issue has been discussed and suggestions have been made. But as our overall position developed and the need to stop the shooting from homes and residential areas became apparent, we became committed to this decision.

You must remember that when we talk about the phenomenon of shooting, we are talking about a totally new phenomenon that did not exist previously. It is not conducted under any official directives, nor is there a leadership for these armed men. It more or less relies on personal initiative, which doubtless has meant that some less-than-aware elements have participated in the name of carrying out a noble goal. [Nevertheless], the phenomenon of gunmen is for the most part one happening among disciplined elements.

PR: Why is armed resistance largely limited to those who are followers of Fateh? For the most part, other forces have not participated in this movement.

Barghouti: There is no law or system to govern this phenomenon, even from inside Fateh. The movement doesn't have a military wing for dealing with these circumstances and the phenomenon is basically a self-sustaining one. In this regard, you cannot talk about one movement without the other. The only thing is that Fateh is the largest popular movement and has led the Intifada from its start. Overall, the movement has taken the lion's share of responsibility in all aspects, including that of armed confrontations.

PR: There are some who believe that any future agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel could make Fateh's fighters the scapegoats for what has happened. Do you think this is a possibility?

Barghouti: The period of us paying dearly for an agreement, political or otherwise, is over. We have offered all these martyrs for a solution, not to pay a greater price. It must be a solution that will provide security and quiet for everyone in the region. We will not accept any partial solution that might be postponed.

The Israeli side is always seeking more victories. It separates the people between "terrorists" and "citizens" and says it will reward the latter and punish the former. And Israel will no doubt continue in these endeavors. But the Palestinian people have learned from their past experiences and will not allow the repetition of what happened in the past. What happened to the prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons is bad enough.

PR: You have recently voiced criticism for what you called "shortcomings" of certain lead officials in the movement. Have you followed up on this charge?

Barghouti: There is no doubt that some top officials have not carried out their duties to the best of their abilities during these circumstances. I do not want to get into why, but I can say that everyone should be participating, carrying out an individual role. Hundreds of citizens have raised their voices and complained about the shortcomings and the lack of any active role from these officials.

First Published in the "Palestine Report" of the JMCC on April 4, 2001 at

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Official PNA Editorial: Armed attacks Against IDF & Settlers Legitimate
The Ten Demands of the Palestinian National Authority

"Recalling the Facts, Restoring the Truth"

A little more than a year ago, at the beginning of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on permanent status, the almighty Israeli Security Services, the famous Shin-Bet, handed over to the prime minister a report incorporating its own prospective on the outcome of negotiations.

According to Israeli newspapers, the substance of the report was that an independent and viable Palestinian State was the best interest of Israel's security, and the essence of the recommendation was the following: Israel should not press its advantage and try to make use of its overwhelming superiority on the ground to impose an unfair, imbalanced settlement upon the Palestinian leadership, because even though this might look very good for Israel in the short run, it might be catastrophic in the long run. It did not take long before this piece of professional advice was confirmed by the tragic events of the last six months. To this difference, however, that Israel even failed to impose an unfair settlement. History will one day, maybe, tell when did Barak lied more: when he claimed to have offered unbelieveably "generous" concessions in Camp David, or when he asserted, after his return, that he never offered anything at all, and only went to Camp David to corner Arafat and to unmask the Palestinian position. To be quite explicit, let us state our conviction that Ehud Barak never intended to reach an agreement, which explains why he had deliberately undermined any possible accord on other issues with such impossible conditions as Israeli sovereignty on Muslim holy shrines or a solemn Palestinian renunciation to the Right of Return.

Historians, however, will probably confirm the Palestinian perception that it was the assassination of the late Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin which derailed the whole "Oslo" process. It did away with the very Israeli will to implement the signed agreements, and the credibility of the stalled peace process became a secondary objective in the political agenda of the successive and structurally instable Israeli governments. Thus, the lack of implementation of the Interim agreements, combined with ongoing settlement drive on the ground, and a total stalemate in negotiations due to the Israeli refusal to carry on talks so long as Palestinians insisted on demanding their legally recognized rights, all of it fueled by murderous brutality and excessive use of force to quell popular protest, led to the present situation. Thus did we move from almost-peace to this undeclared state of war, thus did the whole area regress from the hope of a "new Middle-East" to the all too familiar sound of threats and war talk.

The Israeli government knows - even if Israeli media are prompt to put the blame on Sharon's Labour partners - that it cannot substantially escalate the level of its current military aggression against the Palestinian people without provoking some form of international, Arab, European and American reactions.

Having measured from its first days of office the objective - even though fluctuating - limits imposed upon the materialization of his pre-election ultra-militaristic boasting, and knowing that the management of Barak's policy of siege and assassinations would not bring any decisive victory, the new Israeli Prime minister has now embarked on a targeted propaganda and slander campaign against Palestinians, against the PNA, against Fatah, against Palestinian Security Forces in general and against President Arafat personally. Sharon's recent visit to the US was the inaugural act in this diplomatic-propaganda offensive. It is noteworthy that public calls for the assassination of President Arafat are voiced in Israel without any public condemnation, while much of the official discourse is a hardly veiled called to murder. Speculations about the PNA's imminent collapse, in this context, do not only reflect anguish for the future or wishful thinking on the part of the occupier. They are also part of a deliberate attempt to de-legitimize the Palestinian leadership by claiming all at once that it is responsible for everything that happens on the ground and that it has lost control.

Israeli Chief-of-Staff Shaul Mofaz's characterization of the PA as a "terrorist entity", and the Israeli police allegations of "Force 17" involvement in terrorist activities inside the Green Line are only indicators of the Israeli will to project this construction.

The aim of this ongoing campaign, which prolongs the campaign undertaken by Netanyahu in 1996 and has undergone ups and downs, but has never completely stopped since then, is now to try and convince Western public opinions and governments that the PLO leadership is responsible for the present state of "violence" in our area. It aims both at foiling Palestinian current attempts to reinforce the trend towards international protection and at obtaining American and European endorsement of the Israeli conditions to renew negotiations.

Looking at the vagueness of the US discourse and the hesitations and ambiguities of European diplomacy in this respect, there is no doubt that this campaign has already met a limited measure of success. This is why we must recall some basic facts, and thus contribute to restore the truth.

Ten Points to Understand the Present Situation

1. Who turned his back to negotiations?

We have never said no to negotiations. In the summer of 2000, we left Camp David with a clear and publicized will to continue and go further in the search for a permanent settlement of the conflict. It is the Israeli Prime minister, then, who spoke of a "time-out" of the peace process. It is the Israeli government which declared, in October, that we were no longer "partners". Even after that, we went to Sharm El Sheikh, and even after months of aggression, we went to Taba, and still last week, in the PLC, President Arafat declared our absolute commitment to peace and our readiness to negotiate. Unlike the Israelis, we know one does not choose one's partner. The Israeli claim that "Palestinians should go back to the path of negotiations" is an absolute counter-truth. Reality is that the government of Israel stopped negotiating when it discovered that Palestinians were not ready to accept their "take-it-or-leave-it" package deal in Camp David.

2. Who started violence?

First of all one must recall that military occupation is violence and that Israeli armed forces, Israeli government agencies and Israeli settlers have been exerting uninterrupted and massive violence against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for more than three decades.

Concerning the events of the last five-and-a-half months, the initiative of violence has been purely Israeli. The PNA officially informed the Israeli government that Sharon's planned visit to the Haram El Sharif on September 28th 2000 would provoke popular anger and protest. Not only did the provocative visit take place, under even more provocative massive military protection, but protesters were met with utmost brutality, excessive use of force, and murderous repression. The ensuing protest encountered even more violence, and the movement spread throughout the whole Palestinian occupied territory, fueled and fed by the daily toll of victims. The killing of two Israelis - alleged reservists whose presence in Ramallah is still a riddle - on October 12th, even though condemned in no uncertain terms by the PNA, was used by Israel to inaugurate the policy of air raids against buildings, institutions, vehicles and individuals, including supposedly "targeted" assassinations.

Measures of collective punishment such as border closures, siege, blockade, encirclement of localities, destruction of roads, etc. are manifestations of increased daily violence against the Palestinian population. All of them fuel the anger and resentment of the people and their readiness to continue resisting.

3. Occupation is illegal

Occupation is a violation of international law, which recognizes the legitimacy of armed resistance to foreign occupation. Legitimate does not mean compulsory. It is a political decision to engage or not in armed struggle. But we cannot accept the characterization of legitimate resistance to the tyranny of occupation as criminal violence.

4. Settlements are illegal

Settlements are racist institutions which have been built by force, on stolen land, for aggressive annexation purposes. Palestinian opposition to settlements is both legal and defensive, and in no way constitutes an aggression.

Armed settlers are not civilians, but constitute paramilitary units and militias involved in terror against Palestinian civilians. In the course of the events of the last month, settlers have been at the forefront of Israeli terrorist violence against Palestinians, most of the time under the protective wing of official Israeli occupation forces, as is the daily occurrence in Hebron.

5. Resistance is legitimate

In these conditions, isolated actions against armed settlers and occupation forces by Palestinian individuals or organizations cannot be considered but as legitimate self-defense, which express Palestinian popular determination to resist illegal occupation and dispossession. But at any rate, armed resistance does not sum up the substance or the ongoing Intifada, which started with peaceful mass protest, and has, all along, included a fundamental non-violent component, which has recently been striving for increased visibility. But it is crucial to understand that, at the eyes of most Palestinians, as recent opinion polls clearly indicate, armed resistance and peaceful protest are complementary, not contradictory.

6. We condemn attacks against civilians

Since December 1985, the PLO has been committed to fight against terrorism. The PNA has condemned, and condemns, attacks against civilians, children, and generally speaking "non-combatant populations". It is bound by the letter and spirit of the Hague and Geneva Conventions in this respect, and demands Israeli compliance with the same principles. Attacks against civilians inside Israel, however, can often be the fruit of individual, unorganized despair, as was recently the case with the Ashkelon bus, and short of uprooting the causes of despair, there is no full-proof method of prevention.

7. We need a mechanism to de-escalate

To break down the spiral of confrontation, the end of the state of siege is a pre-condition, but we must be aware that a return to the status quo ante of last September cannot in itself calm the situation. The core issue here is the principle of reciprocity: unless a significant reduction of Israeli violence takes place, there is no ground for the PNA to try and bring about an end to resistance operations. Reciprocity implies measures to disarm the settlers and put an end to their aggressions, and it also means to impose a total freeze in settlement activities. Likewise in the field of "incitement": anti-Palestinian and racist anti-Arab talk runs high in Israeli public and private discourse, in the media and the school-curricula, without mentioning what is uttered and taught in synagogues and religious schools. Unless some reciprocity is injected in this domain, no significant progress can be achieved.

8. Implement signed agreements

The implementation of signed agreements (redeployment, safe passage, prisoners' release, etc.) is indispensable to restore confidence and create propitious conditions for successful negotiation, especially because it will remove the Israeli temptation to sell the same items twice and use interim arrangements already negotiated and signed as bargaining chips in permanent status talks.

9. Revive the political process

The sole sound basis upon which a serious and fruitful return to negotiations is possible is the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference: 242 and 338, which are an integral, indivisible part and parcel of international legality, including 194. Note that the Palestinian proposal to resume negotiations where they were left in Taba constitutes proof of a remarkable flexibility, since the proposals studied are built upon the idea that practical arrangements could be worked out (such as Land swaps) which would be more accommodating to Israeli demands and concerns than the stern and unmitigated application of international law.

10. We want international protection

So long as the Israeli government persists in its futile attempt to impose a solution by the force of arms, pursues its policy of collective punishment against the Palestinian population and continues to put unreasonable and impossible conditions for a rebirth of the political process, we will continue to demand international protection, and more UN involvement, with a view to materialize the fact that the sole alternative to the Madrid-Oslo process now officially on hold is the return to the UN-sponsored International Conference provided for in UNSC Resolution 338.

This PNA editorial ran on March 27, 2001 at

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Palestinian Authority Newspaper Al A'yam
Commentary on a Child Who Died in the Intifada

The following is an example of the many articles appearing in the Palestinian press praising children who die in the Intifada and holding them up as objects of admiration for their peers. It appeared in the Al A'yam, one of the official newspapers of the Palestinian Authority, on April 4, 2001.

"Mohammed Abu A'atzi is a Martyr of Al Aqsa".

"[Mohammed] refused to eat. His mother thought that he didn't like the food that she had prepared, so she sent his older brother to buy him a can of meat. When he saw it, Mohammed threw it down and said, "They are murdering us and we go on eating.The hell with it!"

On Monday Mohammed went to the nest of iniquity, Netzarim [a Jewish Settlement in the Gaza Strip] in order to express his anger. He found a ride, then apologized to the owners [of the car] saying, "I wish to die as a martyr. Please excuse me for not paying you."

He [the driver] answered. "Go with Allah beside you."

Muhammad was then hit in the chest in a residential building near the Netzarim Army Base. The bullet was shot from an Apache helicopter which was hovering in the skies of "Martyrs Junction" in order to strike at [literally to stand against-PMW] the bare-chested Mohammed so that he would fall as a martyr."

Al A'yam 4/4/01

Source of Research:
Palestinian Media Watch
59 King George St., Jerusalem, Israel
phone: 972- 2- 625-4140 fax: 972-2- 624-2803
for further information, contact PMW Director, Itamar Marcus material may be quoted, citing PMW as the source

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The Former Israeli Peace Camp:
Trouble Coping with Reality
David Bedein

Amos Asael, veteran left wing columnist for the Jerusalem Post, was asked, shortly after the Israeli election in February, as to whether he would define himself as a "former peace activist".

Amos retorted that he is part of the "former peace camp".

The ideology of that "former peace camp", whose motto, "territories for peace", had long advocated that the Israeli government cede the west bank and Gaza in exchange for a peace deal with representatives of the Palestinian Arabs.

That "peace now" formula was dealt a fatal blow during the Camp David negotiations during the summer of 2000, when Barak offered 92% of the west bank and Gaza along with the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem to Arafat, an idea which was soundly rejected by Arafat and the PLO.

Senior Israeli negotiator, the Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, Dan Meridor, told me that the PLO resisted the generous "peace now" offer of the Israeli negotiating team, since Barak would not give Palestinian Arab refugees the option to return to their homes and villages from 1948. Meridor mentioned how the senior members of the Israeli negotiating team, most of whom emanated from the "peace now" movement, had universally assumed that the PLO would welcome the "land for peace" offer. Meridor described just how surprised the dovish delegation was to discover that the Palestinian delegation was serious about their demand for the "right of return".

The concept of "land for peace" first entered the mainstream of Israeli political parlance after it was endorsed by IDF Intelligence Chief General Aharon Yariv following the Yom Kippur, After Yariv successfully negotiated a cease-fire with Egypt at the famous #101 kilometer post, an agreement that would pave the way for the Sadat visit and formal territory for peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1979.

Yariv, however, was prophetically skeptical about the chances for the current negotiation process with the PLO to succeed. Shortly before his death in 1994, Yariv told me that That he feared the Oslo process because he favored "Territory for peace", not handing over "territory before peace"

With the demise of the "peace now" formula at the Camp David summit, there were those who pronounced premature eulogies of the "peace now" movement and its allies.

However, in October, following the outbreak of riots, Senior Peace Now activist Janet Aviad: dispatched a wide-ranging proposal to members and supporters of her organization, calling for a $675,000 budget to focus the energies of the Israeli public on the one main impediment towards peace, in her view, which remained the Israeli Jewish "settlers' of Judea, Samaria and Katif.

In late October. After receiving more than $100,00 from the Americans for Peace Now, Peace Now in Jerusalem ran ads in all the major Israeli papers, and, for the first time, in Palestinian Authority papers, in which Peace Now declared that the settlements in the west bank and Gaza remained the greatest impediment to peace.

With the influx of journalists as a result of the riots, Peace Now initiated tours of the settlements for journalists, stopping off near Nablus to show underground caves where Peace Now claimed that settler families were living in so that they could stage surprise attacks on passing Arabs. Peace Now confirmed this, only after I showed Peace Now the pictures taken of such caves and testimonies of journalists who had been fed that line from Peace Now tour guides.

The ads called for the Israeli government to unilaterally dismantle at least 40 of these Jewish communities as a confidence building measure for peace.

In early November, Peace Now convened a press conference in which it presented the updated statistics on the expansion of settlements.

Speaking on behalf of Peace Now, Ben Gurion University Professor Aryeh Arnon stated the passionate position of Peace Now that if Israel were to immediately withdraw from these 40 settlements then the Palestinian Authority would stop the shooting - in the direction of Gilo in Jerusalem, he added.

I asked Prof. Arnon if any official in the Palestinian Authority had ever made a statement at any time in Arabic to express his willingness to accept a two-state solution and to recognize the state of Israel at any time.

Arnon said that he could not answer that question.

I dispatched that same question to more than 100 agencies that have been involved in covering or researching the peace process: Does anyone have any record of any statement in the Arabic language at any time in which an official of the PLO or the PA states their recognition of a two-state solution - in other words, of territories for peace. Nobody has any record of such.

Peace Now is not alone in its continuing campaign against the settlements in the west bank and Gaza. Defining the settlement defines set as colonists, the European Union, the EU, allocated $250,000 to the "peace now" campaign against the settlements.

To augment the effort to target settlers as the problem of the peace process, the EU commissioned the Israeli Human Rights Organization "Bitzelem" on "settler violence", in which "Bitzelem" hired Arab staffers who interviewed Arab residents of the west bank and Gaza, and, as a matter of policy, Bitzelem would interview no Jewish residents of the west bank or Gaza.

Meanwhile, , in conjunction with Peace Now, the Rabbis for Human Rights has conducted an international campaign to expose West Bank settlers who uproot trees from Arab villages as a matter of policy. The Rabbis have conducted a campaign to raise funds for every tree that has been uprooted by settlers, and have made regular appearances on CNN and BBC to advance the cause. Yet when these Rabbis are asked if they can point to a specific time, witness or police complaint to the fact that settlers uprooted Arab trees, the Rabbis could not cite a single instance, eyewitness, or police complaint of such. "We just know that this goes on", said the spokesman for the Rabbis for Human Rights.

What upsets the Peace Now settlement apple cart remains that the official PLO definition of settlements includes any area where Israel placed its civilians in place of Arab civilians where Arab villages were overrun. That is in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids a conquering nation from doing just that. In other words, the PLO definition of illegal settlements includes the Israeli cities, collective farms and woodlands that replaced Arab villages in 1948 - places like Ramle, Lod, Jaffa and Ashkelon.

For that reason, the Voice of Palestine radio news described Netanya and Hadera as illegal settlements when bombs were detonated in these Israeli cities, both of which annexed neighboring Arab villages following the 1948 war.

Since the Palestinian Authority declared a "death sentence for settlers", it would surprise many of the people in the Peace Now camp to know that most of the population of Israel now lives under the threat of a nascent regime that will justify, rationalize and condone the murder of most Jews in Israel, even if they do not live in the west bank or Gaza.

Surprisingly, The Peace Now position has not been shaken. Their position remains that the way to peace is to cede the west bank and Gaza to the PLO, even though the PLO does not accept any such formula for peace.

An icon is not easily broken. The Peace Camp has been transformed into an ideological dinosaur.

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