“Our rifles, all our rifles are aimed at The Occupation,” [Arabic: “Al-Ihtilal”] declared Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Jan. 11 in a major speech that was warm to Hamas and harsh to Israel and the United States. Abbas’ comments were interpreted by Palestinians themselves as a clear reference to attacking Israel. The comments were repeated almost exactly in later television shows by other Palestinian officials, such as Ibrahim Abu-Naja and Dr. Kamal Sharafy who called Israel “the enemy” and “the Zionist enemy,” respectively.
As if to remove any doubt about the militancy of Abbas’ words, minutes after Abbas’ own speech, Palestinian television’s senior announcer, described Israel’s establishment as the beginning of “occupation.” Abbas seemed to reject all possibilities of territorial compromise or anything less than full repatriation of Palestinian refugees, and he repudiated Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s idea that a further Israeli withdrawal would lead to a Palestinian state inside temporary borders.
“Today more than any other day, we must hold fast to our Palestinian principles, and we will not accept a state with temporary borders,” said Abbas, adding, “We will not give up one grain of [land] in Jerusalem.” Referring to Palestinian refugees, Abbas said, “We send our greetings to our brothers in Jordan, in Syria, in Lebanon,” adding, “our hearts and our hands are open to all Palestinians.”
Once more Abbas signaled an invitation to Hamas and Islamic Jihad to join the Palestine Liberation Organization officially-something which almost occurred two years ago, failing when Hamas felt it was not given enough representation in the PLO. Throughout his speech Abbas hinted strongly that spilling blood of Israelis was permitted, while explicitly saying that spilling Palestinian blood was a crime.
“He who spills Palestinian blood is a criminal,” he said. “We must say Palestinian blood is forbidden,'” he continued, acknowledging the continuing bloody feuding between Hamas [which holds the Palestinian Authority legislature] and Fatah [which holds the PA executive branch].
“We all know that the Israeli occupation has staged many evil and criminal attacks, including the attack on Jenin, which President Yasser Arafat referred to as `Jenin-grad,'” declared Abbas, referring to comments by his predecessor, Arafat, who likened the Fatah in Jenin to those Russians who fought the Nazis at Stalingrad.
Jenin had been a center of suicide bombers run by the Fatah organization until the Israeli attack in April 2002 disrupted operations by the Fatah’s Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade.” Arafat called the attack a “massacre,” though investigations showed Israel had not used excessive violence against civilians. Frequently throughout his speech, Abbas referred to Arafat as a martyr, similarly describing those Fatah gunmen who died while carrying out attacks on Israel.
“No one [here] is a criminal. All our people are as one hand to free our land,” declared Abbas, speaking about the struggle against Israel that unites all Palestinians.
“I have heard the sound gunshots here, and that is forbidden,” asserted Abbas, the Fatah and PLO chairman, remonstrating against the largely pro-Fatah crowd that gathered to listen to his words in the town of Ramallah, north of Jerusalem.
“Condemning and preventing internal fighting,” said Abbas, was his regime’s first priority, but his words did not seem to convince the crowd. In what was in many ways one of the most militant speeches against Israel from a Palestinian official normally touted as a moderate, Dr. Abbas also stretched out his hand to the Hamas terror organization that has never even pretended it does not want to destroy Israel.
“Hamas is a bunch of Shiites,” cried members of the crowd, using the term “Shiite” as a kind of curse, and Abbas again rebuked his own Fatah members, saying, “This too is forbidden,” as he tried to strike nationalistic and Islamic themes of unity
“No one [Palestinian] is outside our society,” yelled Abbas, waving his hands at the noisy crowd. “No one is a traitor. No one is a collaborator [with Israel]. No one is an infidel,” Abbas continued, strongly suggesting that anyone who has used arms against Israel, even if he vied with Fatah for leadership, was still not beyond the pale.
Abbas was speaking at the forty-second anniversary of the founding of the Fatah organization-a day commemorating the first Palestinian attack on Israel’s national water carrier on Jan. 1, 1965.
©The Bulletin 2007