Thursday, November 23, 2017

Farrakhan & Moussa Interviews

The following are excerpts from articles which appeared in the Egyptian English weekly, “Al-Ahram” of Al-Ahram Weekly 8-14 January 1998, “Africa encounters Farrakhan” by Gamal Nkrumah


Louis Farrakhan’s recent world tour was part of his effort to bring Africa, the Muslim world and Black America closer together.

In an interview with Al-Ahram Weekly, Farrakhan stressed that he had “never made contact with Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiya or any other such organization.” Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiya, Egypt’s largest militant Islamic group, claimed responsibility for the Luxor massacre — saying it was meant to secure the release of its leaders imprisoned in American and Egyptian jails….

“I do not advocate violence. I cannot condone violent acts except in self-defense. Even when it concerns our struggle in America….

“I can overthrow the system by means of the Qur’an. Over 80 percent of the two million African-American men who answered my call to demonstrate in Washington against racial oppression in America were Christian. The Reverend Benjamin Chavis, who was instrumental in organizing the March, is now a Muslim. Islam is the fastest growing religion in America today.”

In Cairo, Farrakhan did not meet with top-level political personalities, but he did meet with the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Mohamed Sayed Tantawi. He was unable to meet with Grand Sheikh Nasr Farid Wassel, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, but met with leaders of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and members of the Islamist-oriented Labour Party at the home of the party’s leader Ibrahim Shukri.


Farrakhan has set himself a difficult task: he is currying favor with the secular establishments of predominantly Muslim nations, with socialist and nationalist patriotic groups as well as with Islamists. He says that so far his tour has been successful. What seems to have not gone down so well are the accusations swirling around that Farrakhan has been hobnobbing with militant groups.


Before he left his headquarters in Chicago, Farrakhan said that he is on a 52-nation world tour that will take him to several countries dubbed by Washington as “rogue states”, including Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba. Farrakhan explained that he did not use his American passport to travel to Iraq, and therefore, did not violate the U.S. travel ban on Iraq…. Farrakhan was accompanied by an entourage of about 50 people.


Elegantly dressed in his trademark bow tie, he spoke to representatives of the international media at a well-attended press conference. He also lectured at the African Society, a historical landmark which housed many of Africa’s liberation leaders in the ’50s and ’60s. His audience at the Africa Society were mainly representatives of Al-Azhar University’s 12,000-strong African student community, and he spoke about Islam and Pan-Africanism. He paid tribute to Egypt’s late president Gamal Abdel-Nasser, who had received both Elijah Mohamed and Malcom X in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

“Living up to history” — and interview of Foreign Minister Amr Moussa by Hosny Guindy and Hani Shukrallah,

Moussa: I must say that this policy of Netanyahu’s has not been entirely a bad thing because it has brought into sharp focus the real Israeli demands under the Likud, with no sugar coating on them — none whatsoever. So, it has all become very clear. As such, you either have to deal with it, challenge it, or succumb to it. This is what makes the situation critical… And this is why I say we are approaching the moment of truth.


Reporter: This seems to imply that Netanyahu did not create a new reality — he simply revealed what was already there?

Moussa: No, not exactly. I do not think that he created a complete new reality. But certainly the policy and approach of the Labour party are different from those of the Likud.

At any event, this is what Netanyahu has confronted us with. He is telling us: this is it.

Now you are asking could the previous government have reached the same point? There are different schools of thought on this matter.

Some would argue that yes of course the previous government would have brought us to where we are now. They use the example of [the massacre of 100 Lebanese civilians] in Qana to substantiate this point. Indeed, some would also question the fundamental difference between someone who wants to give you 10 percent [in West Bank redeployment] and another who wants to give 20 percent. True, 20 percent is better than 10 percent, but both are entirely inadequate in terms of the decent and reasonable requirements of a balanced approach to peace.


The problems with Oslo, the settlements and the redeployment were there long before the [recent] cabinet crisis.

It is true that one of the pretexts that Mr. Netanyahu liked to use was that he was having a hard time pleasing all the members of his coalition. But the answer to this [argument] is that you either see yourself as dealing with a major problem, which is Middle East peace, of great regional and international importance, and [accordingly] you act as a statesman or you concern yourself with votes here and there and use the local Israeli scene to justify your inability to embark on a balanced peace process.

If this is the case then let us talk frankly and say that this peace process is not going to work, or that it needs greater decisive US intervention in terms of evenhandedness, as I said before.


Israel as a state and not as a Jewish people — Arab Jews were always a part of this region — has no such common history with the Arab world, but is seeking to establish new bonds with us.

So, there are already long-standing foundations for Arab-Iranian and Arab-Turkish relations, but not for Arab-Israeli relations.

The Israelis, however, seem ignorant of the fact that they are not, especially right now, laying down the right foundations on which we can build a healthy relationship. Instead, they are laying down the wrong foundations and as a result our relations with them will always be tense, as long as they continue to pursue their course in the same manner as heretofore.

The Israelis are ignorant of the facts of history — an ignorance that could perhaps be attributed to a certain type of arrogance on their part. This, in fact, is Netanyahu’s biggest error. It is a strategic and an historic error.

It is not just a mistake that he makes when it comes to the treatment of the Palestinians or procrastination with the Syrians. It is rather a major strategic error whose long-term impact Netanyahu cannot see.

We accept that Israel is in the region to stay; but we are talking about it as a destabilising force in the region or as a constructive force?

If we are talking about it as a destabilising force, than this is a different story altogether.

But the future of the region should be based on cooperation between all its inhabitants. This is a matter that Rabin and Peres were getting to understand. But the Likud seems unable to grasp it.

Therefore we should work on formulating healthy and balanced relations that are based on common interests.

We have to have a relation where we can say that the Israelis are treating the Palestinians fairly.

But as long as Arab citizens say that Israel is being unjust to the Palestinians, there will never be a harmonious regional community. It is just not possible.


Reporter: As regards the dialogue between Hamas and the PLO which is reportedly due to open soon in Cairo, what is the Egyptian role in this process?

Moussa: This is a dialogue that has been going on for a long time. They were here for talks about two years ago.

We support all efforts that aim at closing Palestinian ranks because any rift or strife between the Palestinian political forces can only harm the Palestinian cause.

It does not matter which Palestinian forces we are talking about because the Palestinians still have no state. They are struggling to achieve self-determination and an independent state.

In the course of this struggle, it is in the interest of the Palestinians to close ranks behind Yasser Arafat.

All groups should refrain from squabbling because any rift would only serve the interests of the other side.

Our thanks to Dr. Joseph Lerner, Co-Director of IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis) for sharing these pieces with us.

Can Palestinian Authority Request the Transfer of Israelis?

Recently a number of Israeli commentators have defended the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) refusal to transfer terrorists to Israel by claiming that this is acceptable behavior since Israel does not extradite Israelis to the PA. This argument, however, ignores the irrefutable fact that the PA has no authority to request the transfer of Israeli suspects.

According the Interim Agreement, Israel has sole criminal jurisdiction over offenses committed by Israelis and the PA can only request the transfer of non-Israelis. As for civil cases against Israelis which fall within the PA’s jurisdiction, PA imprisonment orders against Israelis are effected by the Israeli police so they serve their punishment in Israeli rather than Palestinian prison.

The relevant sections of the Interim Agreement are presented below:

Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement On The West Bank And The Gaza Strip
Washington, 28th September, 1995

Annex IV Protocol Concerning Legal Matters

ARTICLE I Criminal Jurisdiction

2. Israel has sole criminal jurisdiction over the following offenses:

….

b. offenses committed in the Territory by Israelis.

ARTICLE II Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters

2. Cooperation in Criminal Matters

… b. Where an offense is committed in the Territory by an Israeli acting jointly with an individual under Palestinian personal jurisdiction, the Israeli military forces and the Palestinian Police will cooperate in conducting an investigation.

c. The Palestinian authorities shall not arrest Israelis or place them in custody. Israelis can identify themselves by presenting Israeli documentation.

However, when an Israeli commits a crime against a person or property in the Territory, the Palestinian Police, upon arrival at the scene of the offense shall, if necessary, until the arrival of the Israeli military forces, detain the suspect in place while ensuring his protection and the protection of those involved, prevent interference with the scene of the offense, collect the necessary evidence and conduct preliminary questioning, and in any case shall immediately notify the Israeli authorities through the relevant DCO.

d. Without derogating from the jurisdiction of the Council over property located or transported within the Territory, where the property is being transported or carried by an Israeli, the following procedure shall apply: The Palestinian authorities have the power to take any measures necessary in relation to Israeli vehicles or property where such vehicle or property has been used in the commission of a crime and present an immediate danger to public safety or health. When such measures are taken, the Palestinian authorities shall immediately notify the Israeli authorities through the relevant DCO, and shall continue to take the necessary measures until their arrival.

3. When an Israeli is suspected of committing an offense and is present in the Territory, the Israeli military forces shall be able to arrest, search and detain the suspect as required; in areas where the Palestinian Police exercise powers and responsibilities for internal security and public order, such activities shall take place in coordination with the Palestinian Police, in its presence and with its assistance.

4. Israel shall hand over to the Palestinian Police the Palestinian offenders to whom Article I, paragraph 1.b applies, together with any collected evidence.

6. Summons and Questioning of Witnesses

a. Where the statement of a witness who is an Israeli or other person present in Israel is required for a Palestinian investigation, the statement shall be taken by the Israeli Police in the presence of a Palestinian Police officer in an Israeli facility at an agreed location.

7. Transfer of Suspects and Defendants

a. Where a non-Israeli suspected of, charged with, or convicted of, an offense that falls within Palestinian criminal jurisdiction is present in Israel, the Council may request Israel to arrest and transfer the individual to the Council.

ARTICLE III Civil Jurisdiction

4. Israelis, including registered companies of Israelis, conducting commercial activity in the Territory are subject to the prevailing civil law in the Territory relating to that activity. Enforcement of judicial and administrative judgments and orders issued against Israelis and their property shall be effected by Israel, within a reasonable time, in coordination and cooperation with the Council.

ARTICLE IV Legal Assistance in Civil Matters

3. Enforcement of Judgments

c. Without derogating from the civil jurisdiction of the Palestinian courts and judicial authorities in accordance with Article III, imprisonment orders against Israelis, and orders restraining Israelis from traveling abroad (excluding interim orders before a judgment was given), shall only be issued by Israeli execution offices and effected by the Israeli police.

Dr. Aaron Lerner,
Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645
imra@netvision.net.il

Redeployment – What Does That Mean?

The next round in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations deals with the redeployment issue. The Israelis want redeployment from a minimum amount of territory in Judea in return for a maximum effort to meet their security needs. The Palestinians want a maximum re-deployment in return for security arrangements that they feel they can realistically live with given the Byzantine political realities facing their Palestinian Autonomy.

The real facts on the ground level are strikingly different. While both sides negotiate and argue about what percentage will fall under control of what group, the truth is that about 85% of what was Judea and Samaria is already under tactical control of the PA.

The Israelis have found themselves to be in a difficult tactical military situation. The only area that they control is the area that the IDF soldiers actually occupy, in their bases, or in the Jewish settlements.

The lifelines connecting the settlements and bases to Israel proper are patrolled by the IDF but not under their control. The terrorists can strike at any passing Jewish bus, civilian vehicle, or military transport at will and disappear back into the areas under exclusive PA control.

What then is the real issue? The real issue is simply a matter of political control. The main cause for conflict during this transitional period centers on the destruction of Palestinian housing. This housing was built without obtaining building permits from the IDF civilian affairs command. On the Jewish side, the freeze on all building or expanding of existing settlements is still in effect.

At the same time as the political debate continues, most of Judea and Samaria lie woefully underdeveloped and neglected. The utilization of it’s natural resources, water table, sewage treatment, and other ecological issues which affect all residents, Jewish and Palestinian alike, have yet to be addressed in a non-political atmosphere of grass-roots co-operation. The medical needs of the peoples living in this area are not being properly dealt with. No properly staffed and operated hospitals exist which can compete with the complex medical centers found elsewhere in the world. The reasons for this are mainly political. The finances, human resources, and the desire for co-operation in this area exist. There is, at this time, a window of opportunity, which can bring about the realization of a better life for all the peoples in Judea and Samaria. Politicians on both sides who neither live in the area nor understand the complex grass-roots survival issues involved, are closing this window.

What should be done is to create an internationally monitored housing authority, which would supervise two separate departments, one operated by the PA and the other by the Israelis. In the event of conflict of interests, a tribunal consisting of international authorities acceptable by all sides concerned would settle the issues. Under this plan, all houses presently in existence should be retroactively granted building permits.

All new Palestinian housing and expansion of the Jewish settlements should be left exclusively in the hands of this newly created housing authority. What this plan would do is allow for the natural commercial and industrial expansion of infrastructure in Judea and Samaria without political restrictions.

Jewish and Palestinian joint housing and business ventures should be encouraged to build housing and industrial parks, roads, hospitals, schools, and the necessary infrastructure to support hi-tech industries.

This program could well be called Industry for Peace, and there is no reason why the program couldn’t be moved forward in parallel to the political track.

For the man on the street, political realities usually take a back seat to the reality of health, security, welfare, and education. No matter how the political lines are finally drawn, the economic infrastructure, which will provide the bread and butter of co-existence, must be established_and established now.

PLC Rep. Hatem Abdul Kader: Arafat Can’t Compromise On Jerusalem

IMRA: interviewed Jerusalem Fatah Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Representative, Hatem Abdul Kader, in English, on January 3rd. The entire interview follows:

IMRA: You are quoted in the weekly “Al-Bayader Al-Siyasi” today as saying that you don’t thing that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is doing enough in Jerusalem. Is that an accurate quote? What do you think they should be doing?

Abdul Kader: I think that the PNA can do many things in Jerusalem but for some reason, which I don’t understand, they have stopped. Why? I don’t know exactly.

We have, in the Jerusalem Committee of the PLC, made many decisions about east Jerusalem, but the PNA has not accepted any decisions.

IMRA: Do you think that this indicates that Yasser Arafat in the end may be willing to compromise on Jerusalem?

Abdul Kader: I think that maybe Yasser Arafat has an agreement with the Israelis about east Jerusalem- I don’t know exactly. When I talk about Jerusalem I mean the city and the villages around the city. The region. It is part of Jerusalem. But the PNA is also not doing anything about the electricity, water, building, housing. Nothing. But in Gaza they are doing all the things.

IMRA: Do you think that if Yasser Arafat would try to cut a deal with the Israelis, with something like Beilin-Mazen that talks about Abu Dis as the Jerusalem capital of Palestine, that the public would accept this? That he could get away with this?

Abdul Kader: No, no, no. Nobody has accepted it. Not the Palestinians. Not the Arab world. Not the Moslem world. Jerusalem is Jerusalem. It is our capital. In my opinion we need all of east Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.

IMRA: What do you think would happen to Yasser Arafat if he did make such a deal?

Abdul Kader: I think it would be illegal.

IMRA: What do you think would happen? What would the public do to him?

Abdul Kader: I am sure that Yasser Arafat isn’t doing anything like this. Abu Mazen-Beilin can talk what they want, but I think that there is nothing on the ground.

IMRA: One last question. Recently I have asked a number of Palestinians what they think what will happen to places like French Hill and Ramat Eshkol, areas beyond the 1967 borders which have been populated by Israelis and developed for many many years. They are quite strong that even those areas would be within the Palestinian state. Do you feel the same way?

Abdul Kader: I think that east Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine. We think two capitals for two states. East Jerusalem and west Jerusalem. I think that east Jerusalem and west Jerusalem must be open, but not united. Two municipalities, two capitals, two cities, but it must be open.

IMRA: What do you see happening to the Jewish neighborhoods beyond the 1967 borders in east Jerusalem?

Abdul Kader: I don’t think It is a problem for us.

IMRA: They would be part of Israel?

Abdul Kader: No, no. It is not a problem for us. Any Jews who want to live under Palestinian rule in east Jerusalem are welcome.

IMRA: So they would be living in the Palestinian state.

Abdul Kader: Yes. And have all the rights like the Palestinians. We don’t want to transfer all the Jews from east Jerusalem.

IMRA: Many of the Jews living in east Jerusalem are living on property with 49 year leases – they don’t own the land, its government land. What happens to these people since they don’t actually own the land?

Abdul Kader: Any Jews who have paper – a right to land or buildings in east Jerusalem are not a problem for us. We are talking about the capital. About the policy. We want east Jerusalem under the Palestinians. But if any Jews have a building or land it is no problem for us.

IMRA: So they would become Palestinian citizens?

Abdul Kader: Yes. And also we have Palestinians in east Jerusalem who own buildings in west Jerusalem. We have papers to land and any Palestinians or Jews who have papers – any rights to buildings or land it is not a problem. I think that all of east Jerusalem must be under Palestinian rule.

Dr. Aaron Lerner,
Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645
imra@netvision.net.il

Building Religious/Cultural Bridges Between Arab and Jewish University Students

When the late Anwar Sadat made his historic dramatic trip to Jerusalem 20 years ago, he asserted the importance of bridging the gap between Arabs and Jews by breaking what he called the “Psychological Barrier.” existing between the two peoples. While real and objective problems need to be solved between Israelis and the Arabs as part of a peace settlement, certainly the psychological atmosphere existing between Israelis, and Palestinians is a factor which can either enhance or retard the possibilities for peace to develop. In this article we will suggest that the insufficiently explored commonalities between the Islamic and Judaic cultures can serve as a psychological bridge of the type which President Sadat spoke of, referring to concrete examples.

As educators of university students we would like to share our experiences as supervisors of a unique student dialogue which has been taking place for the last several years. The dialogue has involved students from Bar-Ilan University and Palestinian students from a variety of Palestinian universities. We believe that the experiences of the above-mentioned dialogue points the way and serves as an excellent head-start toward the possibility that both Arabs and Jews can achieve positive perceptions of each other. In contrast to the belief that religion only serves to fan the flame of conflict, the dialogue has shown that the religious cultural background of both Islam and Judaism can contribute to a friendly psychological atmosphere which will bridge the gap between the two peoples.

When our students met for the first time three years ago in Bethlehem, it wasn’t clear what common agenda could be found as a foundation for constructive dialogue. The answers though appeared to come from the students themselves. It began with an innocent question by a Jewish woman student to an Arab female student who asked if she wore the head covering for the same reason that an Orthodox Jewish woman would. This first exchange led to other questions and answers, for instance concerning similarities and differences between the observances of Ramadan and Yom Kippur, the Kosher and Halal food, the way the two peoples worship the same G-d, the teachings of the two religions, the belief of the Moslems and Jews in the same one G-d, the respect and belief of the Moslems of all the prophets and not discriminating between anyone of them, the belief of the Moslims that Prophet Abraham is the grandfather of all Arabs and Jews. As a result of the last-mentioned point, one of the most important things concluded was the idea that Moslims and Jews as descendants of Abraham could achieve improved perceptions of each other. Also they discussed the origins and similarities among the three monotheistic religions. A variety of topics were initially discussed. The way the Qu’ran and Prophet Mohammed recommended the good treatment of the neighbors. Even during war, the Islamic teachings advise the Moslims not to kill children, elderly people or women. In one meeting the story and significance of creation as presented in both the Torah and Qu’ran were compared; in another meeting, essential prayers and religious credos in both Islam and Judaism were explored as expressions of the faith which Arabs and Jews hold dear.

As students from both sides wished to continue their meetings, it became clear to us that a continued comparison between Islam, Judaism (and Christianity) served as a highly constructive foundation for dialogue. Many important issues were dealt with in a thoughtful manner such as the challenge of bio-ethics, or the ethics of life concerning both biological and social ecology; how the two religions update religious structure and observance in each era; and the manner in which prayer is performed by the two peoples. Students were pleased to discover almost identical terminology or concepts for many elements in the two religions, as reflected in culture and language (for instance such as the name of G-d). On several occasions high level student faculty delegations from Japan and India, who were interested in bio-ethics from a religious perspective and in conflict resolution, joined and enriched our deliberations.

Besides the intellectual stimulation, the experience of scores of our students can make an important contribution for conflict resolution. Experts in inter-cultural communication believe that when groups in conflict discover some elements of commonality in an opposing group, the way can be opened for a lessening of tension and new more positive mutual perceptions to emerge.

Again, the activity of the Arab-Israeli students can be instructive. After discovering commonalities in the two religious cultures in the semi-formal circle discussions which opened our meetings, students were then able to divide into their own informal discussion sub-groups, and over coffee and refreshments, to discuss freely and openly any topic that was on their minds including highly controversial political issues in a warm, friendly and respectful atmosphere.

Interactions between the Israeli and Palestinian students and faculty have not remained limited to the formal meetings. Personal relationships have developed which have survived the vicissitudes of sometimes turbulent current events; members have reacted constructively during tragedy and difficulty and have visited each other on personal occasions of both illness and celebration, thus creating a strong human bond for the dialogues to continue.

From our experience, we do not assume that achieving a formal Israeli-Palestinian peace will be easy. Both the Israeli and Palestinian members of the dialogue are proud members of their communities and have their respective religious and national principles. However we have found that we can enrich each other and together discover deeper elements such as our similar religious heritages which can serve to create a new atmosphere that would generate hope instead of despair, while the official leaders on both sides are summoned to arrive at a peace agreement ultimately to serve both of our peoples.

We sincerely hope that our efforts will be encouraged by the formal leadership on both sides and that other groups will follow our example. In recent years, courageous leaders have come forward to enable the peace process to develop. President Sadat understood the importance of breaking the psychological barrier between Arabs and Jews and building new bridges between them, and Yitzhak Rabin sensed new possibilities in the region. It is their legacy which we wish to honor and enlarge upon., as we tap into the cultural backround of Islam and Judaism as a basis for conflict resolution and perception change to occur.

Ben Mollov is a lecturer in political science at Bar-Ilan University and coordinates the department of Political Science at the Ashkelon Regional College under Bar-Ilan’s auspices.

Musa Isa Barhoum is an assistant professor at Al-Quds Open University. He is in charge of the Department of Educational Technology. He has taught in a number of Palestinian universities.

Myth of a Demilitarized Palestinian State

It is a commonly held assumption that a demilitarized Palestinian Arab state would emerge from the current entity known as the Palestine Authority, which would serve the “security interests of the state of Israel”, given the Palestine Authority contracted responsibility to disarm Arab terror groups that function within territory under its control.

The question remains: Is it too late for PA demilitarization? The current Palestine Authority operates a Palestine Liberation Army which acts as an umbrella force that licenses arms for each and every armed faction within the Palestine Authority, including the Palestinian groups that oppose any accord with Israel: Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Fatah Hawks. Back as May 9, 1995, the Palestine Authority’s official Palestine Broadcast Corporation ( the PBC) officially announced the PA policy to license arms for each of these groups, each of which appears on the list published by the State Department that are defined as terrorist organizations.

The series of “Oslo accords”, signed by Arafat and three successive Israeli prime ministers – Rabin, Peres and Netanyahu, cosigned and witnessed by Russia and the US, allow for a Palestinian Arab armed force that would have 9,000 men and women under arms. Arafat signed an accord which provided that any Palestinian under arms would first have to be vetted by Israeli intelligence to ensure that he did not have a background in terror activity. Yet as early as December 10, 1993, it was discovered that the PLA had drafted two Arab residents from the west bank community of Tequa who had murdered the curator of the Herodian, David Rosenfeld, in 1982. They had been released when the Israeli government handed over more than 1000 convicted Palestinian Arab terrorists in exchange for 6 Israeli soldiers who had been captured by a PLO terror group in Lebanon. David Rosenfeld’s widow complained to Israeli prime minister Rabin, whose office responded on June 10, 1994 that the PLA was indeed drafting convicted killers into their armed forces without Israeli government approval. On June 20, 1995, Israel Minister for Public Security Moshe Shachal confirmed to me in a videotaped interview that the Palestine Liberation Army had grown to more than 19,000, and that more Israel no longer had any information as to the personnel then serving in the PLA. In December, 1995, Arafat announced that his commanders for Ramallah and Nablus would the men who planted bombs in Jerusalem’s Zion Square on July 5, 1975, killing thirteen people.

American intelligence experts place the number of PLA troops at more than 50,000.

Living in a generation which has witnessed the victories of the non-mechanized Viet Cong and the Algerian FLN “liberation” armies over the mighty forces of the US and France, the question remains, what are the security implications for Israel of the PA’s current Palestine Liberation Army?

Whatever possibilities existed for a demilitarized Palestinian state, the 1998 reality of the PA’s Palestine Liberation Army flies in the face of any such suggestion.

Palestinian Arab Refugees as “Peripheral” to the Peace Process

A commonly held assumption is that the entire matter of Palestinian Arab refugees is “peripheral” to the progress of the peace process. This view is shared on all sides of the Israeli political spectrum – namely, that the Oslo peace process supersedes any interest in three million Palestinian Arab refugees, one million of whom still reside in the UNRWA (UNITED NATIONS RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY) camps that were set up in 1949. The rest live near the camps and receive benefits from UNRWA – free services for health, education, water, electricity and some food commodities.

In 1958, Abba Eban, then Israel’s ambassador to the UN, characterized the UNRWA policy of maintaining Arab refugees in transit camps as a crass manipulation of human suffering that would only fan the flames of war against the new state of Israel. Dr. Eli Lasch, head of medical services in Gaza for Israel’s Civil Administration until 1985, asserted that UNRWA maintained Arabs at a starvation level before 1967. Israeli troops who entered UNRWA refugee camps in 1967, were shocked to discover that Jordanians and Egyptians had allowed no electricity or running water in the camps, while forbidding the camp residents to work outside of the camps. Meanwhile, however, camp residents were living according to the precise streets, neighborhoods and villages that they had left in 1948. UNRWA neglect of Arab refugees before 1967 did not foster expectations among Arabs who wallowed hopelessly in camps. Israel’s development did.

Israel’s post-1967 modernization of the Arab refugee camps provided Israeli contractors with a source of a subsidized labor force whose health, education and welfare was taken care of by UNRWA, while UN member states upgraded their contributions to UNRWA to improve quality of life in the camps. The 1998 UNRWA budget exceeds $400 Million – the only budget designed to keep refugees as refugees.

The message of the Intifada, which broke out in Gaza UNRWA camps in 1987, was that jobs, sacks of flour and running water would not provide for realization of Palestinian Arab nationalist ambitions. Palestinian Arab refugees asserted that they define their ambition as their “inalienable right of return” to the homes and villages that they left in 1948, even if they now provide land for Israeli towns, cities, and hundreds of collective farms. The “inalienable right of return” as proscribed by the biennial UN resolution #194, doesn’t compensation for Arab refugees in lieu of their return to pre-1948 homes.

UNRWA residents, who maintain the highest educational level in the Arab world, thanks to subsidized elementary and high school education, along with generous University scholarships, prepare themselves for their return. They see how a Palestinian entity with a Palestine Liberation Army has formed overnight, with international and Israeli recognition. They do not see that the realization of their dream as far off.

At a time when the Palestine Authority forbids improving UNRWA homes in anticipation of “return”, a new spirit dominates the camps. In 1998, “We’re going home” is on the lips of Palestinian Arab refugees The home that they sing of is not in the west bank or Gaza, but rather within the state of Israel proper, in the neighborhoods that they left in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ashkelon, Tzfat and the more than 200 Arab villages that now house collective farms, known as Moshavim or Kibbutzim.

The Palestinian Arab refugee population is infested with expectation.A cardinal principle of revolution holds that people whose expectations are not realized will be explode into a revolution whose goal is to overthrow the existing order.

Peace Now on PA Material and Hebron

IMRA interviewed Mossy Raz, political secretary of Peace Now, in Hebrew, on December 19.

IMRA: This week the Prime Minister’s Office released a collection of anti-Semitic material which has come out of the Palestinian Authority (PA), including material denying the Holocaust broadcast on the PA’s official television station, their Ministry of Information Internet site which claims that there is no archeological evidence of a tie between the Jewish People and Jerusalem, etc. How do you, as a man of peace engaged in dialogue with Palestinians, see this?

Raz: I see it as very serious. I see it as I imagine you or any other Israeli sees similar incidents – in their thousands – in the United States, France or other countries.

IMRA: We are not talking about something from marginal people. We are talking about something which came out from the PA’s Ministry of Information. We aren’t talking about marginal group. This is the official site of the PA.

Raz: This in on the archeological mater?

IMRA: Yes, the archeological matter – that not even one piece of archeological evidence that there were Jews living in the Old City of Jerusalem has been found. Apparently they are not aware of the Burnt House or the Hasmonean Palace.

Raz: First of all I don’t think that there are many such incidents. Again, we both know how unimportant such offices as the Ministry of Information are to the PA.

So they had some kind of failure – not that I take it lightly, but I don’t see how this goes any where. We have friendly relations with many countries – something we don’t have with the PA, we still have relations between us of hatred and breaking of agreements.

IMRA: Countries which deny the historical connection of the Jews to Jerusalem?

Raz: That isn’t the official position of the PA.

IMRA: Only their Ministry of Information.

Raz: They didn’t say there is no tie.

IMRA: They say there is no proof of a tie.

Raz: Understand, I don’t want to defend every stupidity of theirs. I only say that you have to put it in its proper proportion.

IMRA: I spoke with the Palestinian Minister of Religion Tahboob, and he explained to me that since the Western Wall is the “al-Baraq Wall” if they are in control they will allow Jews to pray facing it but they can’t get within two meters of the Wall since it is part of the al-Aksa Mosque.

Raz: Since they will not control that area, the whole matter doesn’t interest me.

IMRA: Because you don’t think they will control the Wall?

Raz: No.

IMRA: Why not? If they control Jerusalem?

Raz: You are drawing me into describing my solution for Jerusalem. I see as the solution that Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem will be like Rehavia and the Arab neighborhoods will be like Ramallah. If it is like that then the Wall will be like Rehavia.

IMRA: So the entire matter is not relevant?

Raz: Yes. Clearly there are struggles between us which are religious – like the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. I don’t follow everything he says as you do, but if you were to tell me that he said that if he controls it that he won’t let Jews in…

IMRA: He explains a simple thing: The Cave of the Patriarchs is a mosque. And Jews – or for that matter anyone who is not a Moslem – can come to visit inside as a tourist, but he can’t pray there.

Raz: Yes. Yes. It is clear that to a great extent there is a religious dispute which makes it difficult to reach a solution where the two sides have the same place holy to them.

IMRA: If you knew a priori that the moment you allow them to control a place like the Cave of the Patriarchs that they will be in a situation that they would have a hard time facing their people if they permitted Jewish prayer, that they would not permit Jewish prayer, then would you say that the site can’t be given to PA control?

Raz: No. I don’t agree with you. Since the land has to be divided. There are two nations. Certain places require certain arrangements. The City of Hebron will be entirely under Palestinian control beyond any shadow of a doubt. It is impossible that there will be any arrangement except one under which all of Hebron, including the Cave of the Patriarchs, is under Palestinian control.

IMRA: Even if you know, a priori, that that means barring Jewish prayer there.

Raz: As an Israeli I will be very happy if they also permit Jews to pray there but I think that Jews, and in particular Israelis, will find it difficult to protest this matter after we have destroyed hundreds and thousands of mosques and after we have prevented freedom of religion for Moslems in so many places. It would be very hypocritical for us to say ‘we found one place in this land where our freedom of religion is denied’. For every place that Jews are denied freedom of religion I can show you a thousand places were Moslems are denied freedom of religion.

IMRA: What’s the big deal about the Wall? We are talking about a supporting wall.

Raz: From a religious standpoint?

IMRA: From a national standpoint. From a religious standpoint we are talking about a supporting wall of the Temple Mount as compared to the Cave of the Patriarchs. I am trying to understand why from a national standpoint this is so much more important. That you are so certain and convinced that it has to be held.

Raz: We are entering a theological argument and I am not a religious man. I know that 999 out of every 1,000 citizens in the State of Israel think that the Wall is more important than the Cave of the Patriarchs. Now I am not interested in a historical arguments as to why it is important.

It has another advantage. It is in Jerusalem. In the Jewish Quarter. The Cave of the Patriarchs is in Hebron which has a Palestinian majority, and this has to also be kept in mind. So when you think of the future of the two places there is no comparison between them in terms of their political futures.

IMRA: I heared Shimon Peres when he was on television with Yitzchak Shamir and he said something like this: what is more important, stones or sons. And just last week I spoke with Brig. Gen. (res.) Aharon Levran and he said that if you are concerned only with defending “little Israel” – Gederah to Hadera, that there are areas in the West Bank which are strategically more important than Jerusalem. Why then this bitter dispute with the Palestinians over Jerusalem.

Raz: The approach is distorted because you are explaining to me that we should take additions from the West Bank in order to protect Israel and I say to you that 10% of Israel is Jerusalem so if you take away Jerusalem you give up on part of Israel. It is OK to talk about areas which you think are necessary to add to Israel for its defense but you can’t touch anything in Israel.

IMRA: I am raising this for a different reason. When I talk with many Palestinians – not Hamas – members of the PLC, even ministers, and they tell me that they want all of the Old City and all of Eastern Jerusalem. And I think to myself, if Shimon Peres is right, that in every case sons are more important than stones, then why this whole story with the Old City and the rest? They also are stones.

Raz: That’s true. Everything is a question of proportions. I can’t tell you that today that I know how the solution will be. Of course if we give back 39% it can always be argued that, by the same token, we could have returned 100%.

I say one thing. In my eyes stones are not holy and we have to use the fact that we conquered the territories in 1967 which until now only brought us disasters – with the exception of one good thing – something which is more important than anything else and that is that it can be used to reach a peace arrangements.

Now if it were possible to have a true peace and return 40% of the area then believe me, I would not object. I think I know the cost, more or less, of peace. I do this on the basis of conversations with Palestinians. And I do not think that the Wall is part of the price while the Cave of the Patriarchs is part of the price.

In any case, I think that it is worthwhile to reach an agreement which is based on the principle of our returning territory from 1967.

IMRA: Labor leader Barak talks about separation of the Palestinians from the Israelis as if there will be some kind of Berlin Wall separating the two while in contrast the Palestinians see things more Peres style – something like a binational state or two states with much interaction.

Raz: This is something which I think is very important, very interesting and cuts across the camps in Israel. I believe in a combination of the two. I think most do. In the first stage we have to have separation – and we basically already have this even if it mean violations of the agreements. But in the long range there has to be a situation of living more together – otherwise it isn’t peace.

So in the short run I see something like what Barak is talking about and in the long run what Peres is talking about.

Arafat’s Gaza … on CBS TV

Washington – 18 December: Just a few weeks ago when Madeleine Albright made her first swing through the Middle East, CBS News’ veteran correspondent Bob Simon broadcast an unusually candid report from Gaza. Network anchor Dan Rather actually introduced the report saying it was “from their point-of-view”, from the point-of-view of the Palestinians themselves, though Simon himself gave no such emphasis and appeared to be simply doing his job telling the world what are the popular sentiments in Gaza today, just three years after Arafat’s takeover in Gaza. Here is the transcript of this CBS report:

CBS News Anchorman Dan Rather: Four years after the late Yitzhak Rabin shook hands with Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn, Israel and the PLO are closer to war then peace, and Palestinians are more angry and desperate than ever. CBS News correspondent Bob Simon looks at the conflict from their point-of-view on assignment in Gaza:

Bob Simon: Remember that bright summer day when Yasser Arafat suddenly popped up in Gaza. No one here will ever forget it.

“I feel that my heart is jumping. I feel that there are drums in my heart, because this is Arafat.” Said Mrs. Sobo.

Arafat pops up all over the place now and the primal big brother smiling down on his trip, but Mrs. Sobo is not smiling back. Those drums in her heart have stopped beating.

“I feel sold out…. He is finished.”

Mrs. Sobo’s husband, Fati, wasn’t here to greet Arafat in ’94. He was on a Fulbright fellowship in the United States, but he cheered from afar. Fati has been arrested 23 times by the Israelis. Well he’s back in the same jail now, except this time the guards are Palestinians.

On June 21, professor Sobo presented his final exam to students on community problems. One of the questions: Analyze the corruption in parts of the Palestinian Authority. Ten days later he was arrested. No charges, but no mystery. The professor has asked the wrong question. It turns out to be his own final exam, and he failed.

But Arafat and his men succeeded in bringing the good life to Gaza, villas and beach clubs and affluence the Strip have never known. The trouble is they brought for themselves. The only trickle down to the refugee camp has been the sewage which never stops.

“How do you feel when you see the people from Tunis who came here three years ago living very well?”

“I hate them,” he said. “I don’t look at them, they don’t look at me. They don’t want to know there are poor people in Gaza.”

Like thousands of others, Raid Abdul Hadi’s only hope now is to win this year’s American Green Card Lottery, the only ticket out of this place.

If Arafat isn’t dividing the pie, it is the Israelis who are keeping it small. All these men used to work in Israel, but with peace came closures. Four years ago sixty thousands Gazans worked in Israel everyday. But the number now is zero. This is a good news for Abdul Aziz Rantisi, leader of the political wing of Hamas, the Islamic organization whose military wing is blowing up Israelis with increasing regularity.

“Is Hamas stronger now than it was when Arafat and the Palestinian Authority came in?”

“Hamas day after day getting more supporters,” Rantisi said.

This view is confirmed on the street.

“Hamas is the solution.” And Hamas’ solution is bombing. And every time there is a bombing, the Israelis tighten the screw which deepens the desperation, drives more people to Hamas and give birth to more bombers.

When Secretary Albright started planning her first trip here a couple of months ago it was to breathe new life into the peace process. Now there is an equally urgent and more daunting task. It’s to stop a war.

Indyk 13th December Remarks Following Meeting With Arafat

GAZA: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East Martin Indyk, on an introductory tour of various Mideast capitals, said President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright remain committed to moving the stalled Mideast peace process ahead “as quickly as possible so we can achieve an agreement and start final status talks as soon as possible.”

The senior American official made his remarks here after he had “a very good meeting” here December 13 with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Following is the transcript of Indyk’s remarks:

(Begin transcript)

CHAIRMAN ARAFAT: [Arabic]

A/S INDYK: I want to thank Chairman Arafat very much. As he said, we had a very good meeting. I came here as part of my introductory tour of the region in my new position, but I also came here to help to prepare the ground for the next meetings that will take place with the Secretary of State and Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Netanyahu. And I will also be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu tomorrow evening. As the Secretary said in Geneva, she feels that there is some progress being made; there is still a lot of hard work to be done, but the United States, the President and the Secretary of State, remain committed to moving this process ahead as quickly as possible so we can achieve an agreement and start final status talks as soon as possible. And in that regard we are working with Chairman Arafat and with Prime Minister Netanyahu to move the process ahead. Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.

QUESTION: Mr. Arafat, how do you see the situation in general? Are you still optimistic?

CHAIRMAN ARAFAT: I am a pragmatic man! and we have to work very hard to protect the peace process and to push it further.

QUESTION: Mr. Rais [president] an Israeli official said yesterday that without pressure from the American side, nothing will happen in the peace process. Did you call upon Mr. Martin Indyk for pressure on the Israeli government?

CHAIRMAN ARAFAT: There is continuous pressure from the American side. This meeting that took place with Mrs. Albright and Mr. Netanyahu and me was a part of this pressure.

A/S INDYK: Can I just say that ‘pressure’ is not a word that is in the American vocabulary. We are seeking to encourage both sides and to assist them, to play the role as a full partner and the honest broker. The Secretary of State feels after the meetings she’s had with both Chairman Arafat and Prime Minister Netanyahu that this process is now moving forward and she will continue to work with both of them. In that way, we can hope that we will achieve good results.

QUESTION: Mr. Indyk, what is the purpose of your mission in the Middle East?

A/S INDYK: As I said before, my new position as Assistant Secretary of State, I have responsibilities for the whole region. I have made a tour of the Gulf States. Now I am here in Gaza. I will be going to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon later on. I will also go to the Mahgreb states to have an opportunity to consult with all of the leaders in the region and to discuss with them our policies and to hear from them, from our friends in the region, like Chairman Arafat, how best we can promote our common interests in peace and stability in this vital part of the world.