The following is the complete and unedited text of an editorial on the official Fatah Website 15th September, 1998, http://www.fateh.org/e_editor/98/150998.htm
President Clinton has sworn that he will remain committed to the peace process in the Middle East. He has promised that the US Administration will remain involved and that nothing will weaken US resolve to do everything possible to push the peace process forward.
Since we have no recourse other than to place our trust in President Clinton, we look forward to the enactment of this promise, hoping that it will not be sucked down into the vortex of the Starr report on the Clinton-Lewinsky affair.
The first thing that President Clinton should do is to terminate Dennis Ross as the US peace envoy in the Middle East. Ross’ behavior advertises the existence of double standards. Ross is not an honest peace broker. To the Palestinians, he is persona non grata, a spokesman for Zionist oppression, under imperialistic influences, who acts against an occupied people fighting for freedom. Ross seems to take pleasure in his efforts to take 3% from the body of the victim, giving no thought to the blood that will be shed in the process.
President Arafat has realized that Dennis Ross is satisfied with wasting our time without helping us to reach an agreement with the Israelis. Like windmills attached to no power-producing source, Ross’ trips spin and spin, to no avail. For this reason, President Arafat has asked President Clinton to send Ms. Albright to the area, in the hopes that she will be better able to represent US interests. Ms. Albright, at least, does not seem quite so likely as Ross to speak for the interests of the Zionist Likud lobby within the US Administration.
Until Clinton honors his pledge and exerts the necessary pressure on the Israeli side, which has so far failed to honor the peace agreements, Palestinians should maintain their current position. They should refuse to make any more concessions. Otherwise, Israel will be in a stronger position to kill off the Palestinian dream of establishing the Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. The establishment of this state will be a strong foundation for peace in the Middle East and, by easing tensions and freeing energies and resources both here and abroad, will contribute to peace world-wide.
Nearly two years have passed, in which we have experienced “much ado about nothing”, as Israeli and US negotiators have attempted to undermine the terms of reference of the Oslo Accord — to negate UN Resolutions 242 and 338, along with the principle of “land for peace”, as phrased in “notes for the record” in the Hebron Protocol. To nullify these terms of reference is to put an end to the legal basis of the Oslo agreement and to deny the legitimacy of the Palestinian demand for the return of our land.
A review of Israeli contempt for deadlines shows that this in fact is what is happening. From Rubin and Peres down to Netenyahu, Israeli leaders have shown their disrespect for a negotiated political settlement, including the schedules agreed upon for this work. One can’t help but wonder will happen on the date of May 4, 1999, the day agreed on in the Oslo Accord for the end of the interim stage of negotiations. By the end of this stage, the two parties are to have fulfilled the obligations each assumed in the framework of the agreement. Now Israeli leaders have begun to say that “dates are not sacred.” Are we to understand from this that agreements are not sacred, and that the Israelis are announcing their failure to honor their commitments? Palestinians fear that the date will arrive for the end of negotiations without any agreements having been made.
So should the Palestinians surrender? Should we accept a two-year extension of the negotiating period, as Israeli Labor Party ideologists have suggested?
The Fateh Central Committee has discussed in depth the current situation. They reaffirm that a unified Palestinian position is a necessity to ensure our credibility and the maintenance of a strong front.
This time, when we declare a Palestinian state, as we live within the liberated parts of our homeland, our position is different from the declaration of independence made when we were in the Diaspora. Now, the fact that we have existing executive, judicial and legislative institutions puts teeth into our declaration. Next year’s declaration of independence represents a move from self-rule to the creation of a truly sovereign state.
We understand that achievement of our sovereignty depends to some measure on the world’s willingness to recognize the state of Palestine. Thus we have work to do, in order to ensure that we will obtain the recognition we need from Europe and the rest of the world. Already, the non-aligned countries, all 114 of them, who met recently in South Africa, have expressed their readiness to recognize the new Palestinian state.
When Palestine is recognized by the nations of the world as an independent state, and what Israel views now as disputed land becomes our nation, Netenyahu and the Likud Party will be forced to act responsibly before the eyes of the world. No longer will Shamir’s philosophy of wading through ten years of negotiation before yielding one inch of land be allowed to govern Israel’s actions.
The PLO must play a leading role within the liberated PNA territories and take the lead, as well, within the Diaspora, in the attempt to mobilize the Palestinian people for the coming struggle. Both within the West Bank and Gaza and outside, the PLO must activate all Palestinian institutions and to ensure national unity by involving non-PLO parties such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The PLO, its Executive Committee, and President Arafat, as head of that committee, form an administration that should use all available resources, including Fateh, the movement which can turn dreams into realities.
Among us, the declaration of the Palestinian state should not unravel into a yes/no discussion, but must focus on the specific ways in which we will work to realize our independence — without, however, degenerating into internal arguments over minute tactical details.
Finally, any interim agreement should include Palestinian insistence on unconditional Israeli acceptance of the US initiative now being considered. Any interim agreement should also contain the following:
- an explicit pledge on Israel’s part to halt settlement construction;
- no prohibition of the Palestinian right to declare a state on May 4, 1999; and
- commitment on Israel’s part to carry out the third troop redeployment, as well as any other interim steps agreed upon in the Oslo Accord, before final status negotiations are begun.
Revolution until victory!