Palestinian conditional non-violence denies the fundamental basis of the deal
“We [Convicted murdered and Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti and I] support negotiations and other peaceful means with Israel as long as Palestinian aspirations may be realized through negotiations. If Palestinian aspirations can’t be realized through peaceful means then the aspirations will be realized via resistance.” Palestinian “moderate” PLC representative Qadura Fares on Israel Radio 27 November 2005

“The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations…. the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators.”

So wrote Yasser Arafat in his September 9, 1993 letter to Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister of Israel.

And it wasn’t easy to get Arafat, acting as the representative of the Palestinian people, to sign off on those phrases. Words that forfeited any possible legal claim to the right to continue employing terrorism and other acts of violence in what he and his supporters called a “liberation struggle”.

Take a look at the phrase: Arafat didn’t just renounce the use of “terrorism” – a word that the Arabs claim cannot ever be applied to their murderous activity – he also renounced the use of “other acts of violence”. Arafat didn’t want to sign off on the phrases, but Yitzhak Rabin made it clear that this was his red line.

So there was Yasser Arafat in the summer of 1993: Arafat, essentially an aging has-been exiled to Tunis from Beirut, watching as each month Israeli security forces continued to whittle down their dwindling “wanted list” of terrorists.

No. Contrary to what has become the story line in some quarters, it wasn’t the “children of the stones” that raised Arafat from the dung heap of history, it was a group of Israeli ideologues seeking a way to facilitate an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Oslo was Arafat’s lifeline. Israel could take it or leave it. So Arafat blinked first.

It wasn’t a minor matter then. And it shouldn’t be a minor matter today.

Let’s be clear about this: when the entire Palestinian leadership – from White House Lawn “man of peace” Mahmoud Abbas on down – explain that their commitment to nonviolence is conditioned on their getting what they want, they are trashing this fundamental Palestinian commitment.

That’s not to say that Arafat’s letter and the agreements that followed it stripped the Palestinians of the ability to struggle for their interests. It just limited them to pursuing them via non-violent means — both on the domestic and the international front.

Arafat’s September 9, 1993 letter to Yitzhak Rabin committing to “a peaceful resolution of the conflict… resolved through negotiations” and assuming “responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators” was supposed to be a watershed event.

But it wasn’t.

Because from day one that commitment has been ignored and forgotten.


Dr. Aaron Lerner is co-founder of IMRA, Independent Media Review and Analysis, an Israel-based news organization which provides an extensive digest of media, polls and significant interviews and events relating to the Israeli-Arab conflict. He can be reached at: