Speech by Palestinian Authority
President Yasir 'Arafat at the 25th ministerial
session of the foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Conference in Doha
"The Israeli Government should be fully aware that there will be no peace, stability, or security without the return of Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the independent Palestinian state. Brothers, holy Jerusalem is urging you to come to its rescue....Moreover, our Palestinian people, who are suffering from the injustice, oppression, and arrogance of the Israeli occupation, wonder in loud voices Why are the international legitimacy resolutions on Palestine not implemented? Scores of such resolutions were issued but are still obstructed and frozen in the UN drawers. Israel, since its establishment, has been ignoring the resolutions of international legitimacy and has not implemented any of them. Does this mean that Israel is above international law? This question is posed to the entire international community and all those who believe in peace. International legitimacy is an integral part, and we hope that our peoples will not reach the conviction that this legitimacy is being applied according to double standards because this will severely undermine the credibility of the United Nations organization and the world order as a whole, as well as the credibility of and respect for the UN Security Council resolutions......
It is not an exaggeration to say that this (peace) process is almost dying due to the overall intransigent and irresponsible stands and policies being pursued by the current Israeli Government toward the peace process and its obligations as stipulated in the signed agreements. This stalemate has characterized everything. Yes, it has characterized everything. To be honest with you, there is no progress whatsoever but rather a retreat in everything. The many continued obstacles and barriers, which this government has placed against the peace process and against the implementation of the signed agreements and their outstanding requirements, have become clear to all. The economic suffocation and the continued siege and closure have caused the Palestinian people to lose no less than $10 million everyday. This is in addition to the procrastination and evasion of the implementation of the signed agreements; the wasting of time; the confiscation of land and construction of illegal settlements on it; the failure to release prisoners and detainees; and the failure to open the airport, the seaport, and the safe passage. These and other repressive measures have been characteristic of the Israeli policy, especially over the past three days when four people were martyred and 74 others wounded as a result of the repressive Israeli operations......
The peace of the brave we signed is today facing numerous dangers and impediments. We understand that the just, lasting, and comprehensive peace should be on all tracks in our region, including the Syrian and Lebanese tracks. Holy Jerusalem, brothers, as you know, is facing a feverish and wild campaign with the aim of Judaizing it in full, obliterating its religious, historical, and cultural landmarks, and canceling its Arab, Islamic, and Christian identity through a series of systemic measures programmed to confiscate land; build settlements; seize identification cards from Arab Jerusalemites; and tamper with the religious, legal, and demographic status of the city with the aim of expelling its inhabitants and isolating it from its Palestinian surroundings. All this is a blatant encroachment on the feelings of our nation and world believers as well as a flagrant defiance of the international legitimacy resolutions and a brazen violation of the signed agreements. This makes it incumbent on you to actively move on all levels, pool energies and capabilities, and provide all elements of support and steadfastness to the Palestinian people, especially in holy Jerusalem, which has a special place in the hearts of our nation. It is the first of the two qiblahs [direction to which Muslims turn when praying] and the third holiest mosque. It is the place from which Prophet Muhammad, God's peace and blessings be upon him, made his night journey to heaven. It is also the cradle of Christ, peace be upon him. Jerusalem is a Palestinian, Arab, Islamic, and Christian red line. It is an issue that accepts no bargaining or relinquishment. The Israeli Government should be fully aware that there will be no peace, stability, or security without the return of Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the independent Palestinian state. Brothers, holy Jerusalem is urging you to come to its rescue.
Islamic summits, the last of which was the eighth Islamic summit held in Tehran, capital of the sisterly Islamic Republic of Iran, accorded it special importance and exceptional care and reiterated our nation's resolve and determination to restore the city of holy Jerusalem and the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque and regain the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people to repatriation, self-determination, and independent statehood with holy Jerusalem as their capital. The Arab summit recently held in Cairo did the same....
For the Palestinian people, this would bring about the dismantlement of the occupation of their territories and holy shrines and enable them to live in peace, freedom, stability, and dignity as a sovereign people in Palestine, their homeland, and in holy Jerusalem, their eternal capital.
The organization, active during the intifada, will strike at Israeli targets and act against collaborators with Israel in eastern Jerusalem The Fatah organization has decided to reestablish its "Shock Troops", which operated in eastern Jerusalem during the intifada. The task of the forces will be to attack Israeli targets, enforce strike days on Palestinian businesses and act against suspected collaborators with Israel who live in the area.
The Shock Troops were active both in eastern Jerusalem and the territories during the intifada. Members of the group, virtually all of them from Fatah, were responsible for thousands of actionsdirected against Israeli soldiers and settlers and Palestinian collaborators. After the signing of the Oslo Accords, the PLO disbanded the Shock Troops, most of whose members were then drafted to serve in the Palestinian security forces.
The decision to renew the Shock Troops' activity was taken by a militant faction within Fatah consisting of a small group of Fatah members in eastern Jerusalem who are opposed to the peace process and have been calling for a renewal of the intifada. As far as is known, these activists do not appear to be connected to the Orient House or senior Palestinian Authority officials in Jerusalem.
This past Tuesday, members of the Shock Troops carried out their first action: two hours prior to British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook's visit to eastern Jerusalem, a firebomb was thrown at a Bank Leumi branch on Salah a-Din street and an Israeli vehicle parked nearby was torched. Members of the group also attempted to burn tires in the middle of Salah a-Din street, but fled the scene upon the arrival of a police van.
The police who arrived at the scene discovered a leaflet signed in the name of Fatah in which the organization takes responsibility for the attacks. The leaflet was written before the attacks, indicating prior planning of the operation. This attests to the return of the Shock Troops in the eastern part of the city in response to what they see as Israeli measures against the Arab population.
Jamal Shati Al-Hindi is a Fatah Jenin representative in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) where he is Chairman of the PLC Refugee and Diaspora Committee. IMRA interviewed Al-Hindi in Hebrew on March 24, 1998
IMRA: I understand that you say that Israel should allow the 1948 refugees to return to their homes inside Israel.
Al-Hindi: Yes. In Israel.
IMRA: The Left in Israel which supports the Palestinian cause - Yossi Sarid, Shulamit Aloni, etc. say that if you allow the refugees to return to their homes then there will be a situation that there may be more Palestinians than Jews in the Knesset. That this will be a problem because if Israel is a democracy then there won't be a Jewish majority in Israel so the whole effort was for naught. How do you react to this - that even among the Israeli Left the view is that allowing the right of return wrecks the whole exercise.
Al-Hindi: This is a right of the Palestinian people for two thousand years. They lived in the land and lived in their homes. Why shouldn't they return to their homes? There is also UN Resolution 194 calling for them to return to their homes.
IMRA: All Israelis - I am not talking about Netanyahu - the Israeli Left including Yossi Sarid oppose this. Even if they were in power they would not allow the refugees to return within Israel. When I ask the Israeli Left they tell me that the Palestinian demand for the right of return is for negotiations. That in the end they will accept a compromise. Is this really just an opening position?
Al-Hindi: This is the right of the Palestinian refugees and they do not have to say yes now. There is time. A hundred years.
IMRA: So there can't be peace without this?
Al-Hindi: Maybe there will be peace if the Palestinians get the right of return.
IMRA: And if they don't?
Al-Hindi: Then there won't. There are four million Palestinian refugees who want to return.
IMRA: I am asking a practical question. If there is a way for you to get now a Palestinian state it is at the price of giving up on the right of return. Are you willing to pay this price?
Al-Hindi: No. I won't agree to this. Nor will all the Palestinian refugees.
Dr. Aaron Lerner is the Director of IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
Abu Ala, the recently reelected Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council told me this week that all of what he terms occupied Jerusalem must be part of the Palestinian state. And that includes Ramat Eshkol and French Hill.
"So what do you see happening," I asked him, " We are talking about hundred of millions of dollars - if not billions of dollars of housing which has been built." "This is not our mistake," he replied, "It was their mistake to build that by the power of force."
When I mentioned this to Labor MK Yael Dayan, she said that "This is even beyond wishful thinking It is an impossibility. I think that Abu Ala has got to say what he says. I don't think that for one minute he believes that areas which were not mixed and have continuity with west Jerusalem and which were really put on state land and barren hills that were never inhabited and are now an integral part of Jewish Jerusalem - I don't think for a minute that he thinks that in fact we will evacuate them."
"If it turns out that they are serious," I asked, "then what do you anticipate?" Dayan replied: "I anticipate that even the international community would not stand by it." Well I have news for Dayan. I spoke with an official British source today, and she told me that as far as Britain, the Europeans and for that matter, the world, is concerned, there is no difference between Ramat Eshkol and Har Homa. That's right. They are all illegal settlements!
So things will come to a head over Jerusalem. And the irony is that the best chances for things to work out peacefully at that point is if Israel has as many marbles as possible still in its hands. If we [continue with the withdrawals under the Oslo process], Israel will already be at borders which will make a terrible violent Palestinian response to a stalemate just that more attractive an option.