|Israel Resource Review
||9th March, 1999
the Israel Resource
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Official Fatah Website Editorial:
A State in the Making:
Rights and Duties
President Arafat's mention of a possible confederation with Jordan has
stirred numerous comments. The president's remarks, however, need to be
understood in the context in which they were spoken.
At the time he made the reference, President Arafat was in Hebron, leading
what can be considered a major effort in laying down the foundations of
popular democracy. He was participating in a regional conference held by
Fateh to elect its cadre for that area, in advance of the elections to be
held locally for the village and municipal councils.
In a speech he delivered at the conference, President Arafat emphasized the
right of the Palestinian people to declare a state on May 4, 1999, in
accordance with international legal resolutions. The world has agreed on
our right to self-determination -- to our right to a state with Jerusalem
as its capital.
President Arafat's speech was the first he had delivered in Jordan after
the death of King Hussein, and so it was quite natural to refer in it to
the brotherly relations between the two peoples of Jordan and Palestine. In
fact, an agreement to establish a confederation between the Jordanian and
Palestinian states was first reached in 1985, a year after the Palestinian
National Council (PNC) met in Amman. The possibility was reaffirmed in
1991, before the joint Jordanian/Palestinian delegation was chosen to
attend the Madrid Conference.
The president's remarks were interpreted by some, including some Jordanian
officials, as an invitation to hold immediate consultations about a
possible future confederation. These officials made it clear that they felt
that such consultations would be premature.
In our view, the May 4 declaration will not qualify Palestine to be part of
a confederation with Jordan, whose political and economic institutions are
now coming of age. Palestine, in contrast, faces the formidable task of
freeing the Occupied Territories in accordance with UN Resolution 181,
which calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel,
and in accordance, also, with UN Resolutions 242 and 338, which hold that
lands occupied in 1967 are not lands in dispute, but rather, territories
occupied by force, and therefore not the rightful property of the occupier.
Palestinian insistence on actualizing the state has been paralleled by
Netenyahu's dogged efforts to portray our dream as delusion. "You can dream
every night of a Palestinian state," Netenyahu has boasted to us, "but when
you wake up in the morning, you will discover that your state never
existed, and that it never will". When Netenyahu rejected the US
initiative, it was clear that all issues relating to both interim and
final-status negotiations were badly threatened. Since then, it has became
painfully clear that the Oslo peace process has passed away. All that
remains now is to bury the corpse, but Netenyahu, in a grotesque charade,
insists on keeping the body above ground, leaving it to decompose, with all
its attendant foul odors, as he persists with his rhetoric on
While confronting the difficulties resulting from Israeli intransigence,
the Palestinian side has done its utmost to keep the terms of the Oslo
Agreement. In this spirit, the Palestinian leadership agreed to the US
initiative despite the pro-Israeli bias it involved. Then came the Wye
River negotiations and the resulting Wye Memorandum, even as Palestinians
continued to insist that May 4, as agreed in the Oslo Accords, must mark
the end of the interim agreement.
All of these developments require that institutions which either played a
role in or grew out of the Oslo Agreement have recourse to the PLO, whose
existence, of course, preceded that of the Palestinian National Authority.
The PNA, of course, was set up for the interim period only, with the
understanding that it would be replaced at the end of that time by a
sovereign national government. After May 4, then, the role of the PNA will
be taken over by the PLO's Executive Committee in conjunction with the
Palestinian National Council, in order to prevent the occurrence of any
power vacuum that might result from the declaration of the Palestinian
Both the Central Committee of Fateh and the Palestinian leadership
emphasize the importance of May 4 as the date for our declaration of
statehood. However, some colleagues, both in the PLO and outside it, view
the decision to declare a state as no more than a PNA tactic for immediate
political gain. This view is mistaken; the May 4 date has long been the
date set for statehood, and our insistence on holding to that date was the
reason it was mentioned in the Wye Memorandum as the date on which the
interim negotiations were to end. The fact that the date was included in
the Wye Memorandum was a victory for the Palestinian leadership, since it
showed their critics, who had been trying to exploit the people's
frustration, that the Palestinian leadership was, in fact, acting with
resolve and in good faith with the Palestinian people.
Any time a gap exists between an organization's theoretical position and
its readiness to transform a theoretical goal into reality, the opponents
will benefit. Pointing to the gap between goal and reality, our accusers
will call into question our resolve. Thus political slogans must be backed
up by a clearly defined schedule of actions, if we are to demonstrate to
our people that we are now engaged in constructing our state-to-be.
The Palestinian leadership has established a special committee consisting
of President Arafat, as head of the PNC, and of members of the Executive
Committee and the PNA. The aim behind the creation of this committee is to
arrive at a consensus on the essence and form of the state to be declared
at the end of the interim period on May 4.
In order to achieve our rights, we must undertake certain duties. Although
serious efforts are being made to ensure the support of Arab and
international parties, self-determination is a purely Palestinian affair
and not to be negotiated, even through efforts by another party that may
wish us well. We are fully aware of the kinds of pressure that are being
brought to bear on the PNA by the USA, Israel, and other countries, both in
this region and in Europe to delay the declaration of our state. But this
pressure does not serve the cause of peace. Israel continues to oppose the
establishment of a Palestinian state under any conditions; to surrender to
the pressure being exerted on us now, would mean postponement of our state
for the foreseeable future. Among the duties, then, that both the PNA and
the PLO must carry out if we are to protect and realize our dream are the
- The Executive Committee of the PLO should meet at such a time and place
as to allow all committee members to participate. The meeting should result
in the establishment of the working program we will need to prepare for May
- The Central Council should then be convened to list and prioritize all
the tasks necessary to create to help create a Palestinian consensus.
- A national dialogue should take place in which we evaluate the
experience of the past five years. This dialogue will help us to formulate
a clear position vis-a-vis the interim and final-status issues. Our
position will be based on all resolutions issued by the United Nations
Security Council and UN General Assembly, including: 242 and 338 and the
principle of trading for peace the land illegally occupied by military
force; 194 and 234, granting Palestinians the right of return to their
land; 446 and 452, which declare Jewish settlements in the West Bank and
Gaza to be obstacles to peace; and 181, which guarantees us the right to
establish a Palestinian state.
- The PNA must provide for local elections before the expiration of the
interim period. These elections will strengthen democracy and ensure
increased public support as we forge our independence and create our
- The PNA should gradually implement the civil service law and raise the
funds necessary for doing so. It must assure our people that the
legislative and executive branches will work together in complementary
roles, so that people will not continue to live with the frustration
created by inept administration.
- The PNA should release all political prisoners who have not acted
against the law. Doing so will foster our national unity by reaffirming
those principles which unite us. Doing so may also help to prevent those
acts of anti-Israeli vengeance, which would work against our cause if they
provided impetus for Netenyahu's re-election.
- The PNA must address the deteriorating economic situation. Overspending
and corruption must end, and those responsible must be held accountable.
Only in this way can we ease the people's frustration.
- More emphasis should be given to the creation and strengthening of our
national institutions, both governmental and civil.
- We must prepare at all levels to respond to any moves Israel might make
after our declaration of statehood on May 4.
Our declaration of statehood is not intended to be, as some fear, a
declaration of war. Rather, it is the key to peace, a peace based on
justice for all countries in the area. The world should know, however, that
if our state should be attacked by an aggressor, we will be prepared to
Revolution until Victory!
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Hezbollah Takes Another Step Toward Jerusalem
by David Bedein
Media Research Analyst
Last Monday, the South Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah,
funded and armed by Syria and Iran, set off a roadside bomb that
killed an Israeli brigadier general in command of Israel's
Lebanon operations, along with a leading Israeli journalist and
two other officers.
It is easy to speak of Hezbollah, as a New York Times article
recently did, in terms of its "low-level war to push Israel out
of South Lebanon." Yet Hezbollah's own rhetoric proclaims a
fuller agenda. "Another victory on the way to liberating
Jerusalem and Palestine" cried Hezbollah radio the morning after
the attacks, while TV clips of the funerals of Hezbollah
fighters the morning after Israeli Air Force attacks featured
crowds chanting, "By our blood and by our soul, we will liberate
The push to get Israel out of Lebanon is not the goal but merely
the first step to a final push of Israel out of Jerusalem and
out of what Hezbollah defines as "Palestine."
Yet the threat from Hezbollah is not adequately understood, even
in Israel. Some suppose that the Hezbollah program begins and
ends in the Lebanon Security Zone, and that after an Israeli
withdrawal, Hezbollah will be satisfied and Israel will live
happily ever after.
One reason for Israelis' lack of comprehension is that Hezbollah
- like other Arab groups - flaunts its true intentions in
Arabic. Few people in Israel understand Arabic, and fewer follow
the pronouncements Arab leaders make to their own people.
Israeli newscasts and newspapers rarely cover these statements
or translate them into Hebrew, much less into languages
accessible to Western journalists and policymakers.
Of those who do understand, even those who serve in Israeli or
Western intelligence services, many dismiss this rhetoric as
meant "for internal consumption."
Most Israelis do not grasp that religious conviction can inspire
wars of destruction. It would seem that average secular-minded
Israelis do not realize that the nuances of a language and
religion that mean nothing to them could be a galvanizing force
This blurred perception might be traced to the early days of
Zionist building, when there was inadequate attention to the
growth of Arab-Muslim nationalism after World War I. Since then,
anti-Zionism has been fed on stories of an imagined Arab-Muslim
pseudo-Zionist nationalism and a generation passionately ready
to go to war for an all-Arab Palestine.
In the 1980s, I lived in Upper Galilee, the sparsely settled
northern region of Israel, where 100,000 Israeli Jews and Arabs
dwell in an area within rocket range of Southern Lebanon.
Residents of other regions of Israel often seem to have little
communication with Israelis on the northern border and less
empathy. My acquaintances in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv always
seemed to view attacks on border settlements as our security
problem, not theirs.
If we heed the words and intentions as well as the deeds of
Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and other militant Arab
Muslim groups, it should be clear that no security problem is
merely regional. All Israel remains the target, and no Israeli
anywhere should feel complacently free from threat.
With elections scheduled for May 17, Israeli politicians compete
with one another with promises to leave the unpopular
battlefield of Lebanon if they are elected. Opposition
candidates Ehud Barak and Yitzhak Mordecai have so promised, as
has incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
No matter the promises, a dedicated enemy is making ready to
launch the march to Jerusalem. Some still ignore that agenda.
Their awakening may be rude indeed.
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