The General Secretary of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Nayef Hawatmeh, called for the creation, establishment, as soon as possible, of a Palestinian Road Map which draws up clearly and precisely the objectives of the Palestinian people in this stage and the means for attaining them. In this context he criticized the positions of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), the new president of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), as well as the positions of the militant factions that just cling to the alternative of armed resistance.
In an exclusive interview with Islam On Line last November 16, Hawatmeh warned that Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon will try in the post-Arafat period to “demonstrate before the world the division and fragmentation of the Palestinians into little groups and the lack of agreement in their ranks around a common political program or even a program with visible features. So the Zionist prime minister will try to promote a “Unilateral Plan of Separation” which would only leave the Palestinians with crumbs of their land.” The DFLP leader criticized Abu Mazen's position, along with those of some militant factions, about the question of collective Palestinian action to be aspired to in the next stage.
He set forth that it is not acceptable that the whole world, from Israel and the "Quartet" (made up of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia) to the Arab countries, have their own Road Map, while the Palestinian people remain deprived of anything similar which could count on the unanimous support of all the militant factions without exception and which would implement with precision the objectives and means for attaining them.
“Starting from this point, I call for a unanimous agreement on a Palestinian Road Map, and in the shortest possible period of time,” the Palestinian leader said.
Nayef Hawatmeh accused Abu Mazen of failing to fulfil what was agreed on in Cairo after President Arafat's funeral, on Friday November 12, on reaching an agreement about a Common Political Program leading to a Unified National Directorate. On this subject, Hawatmeh said that “we met with Abu Mazen and agreed on the need for bringing about a comprehensive dialogue based on the Program of March 30, 2004, which was approved in the presence of the late President Yasser Arafat, and for arriving at a program based on common denominators and a Unified National Directorate, which could lead us to legislative elections. To this effect, the Elected Council will make changes in the Fundamental Law of Powers, in a way that would allow the election of the president by the Council, as part of a sharp turn toward a democratic parliamentarian form of government.”
He added that Abu Mazen, along with Abu Al-Lotf (Farouk Kaddoumi, Fatah's new president), had show full comprehension at that time. However, immediately upon Abu Mazen's return to Ramallah he broke off the whole agreement, and went back all over again to Fatah's narrow solutions, based on a unilateral monopolization of power and on resolving its internal differences by means of the distribution of posts among the warring factions inside Fatah. He reminded us that all the Palestinian militant factions, particularly the national forces (Fatah, the Democratic Front and the Popular Front), signed off on the March 30 Program as a stepping stone that would be adequate for attaining common denominators aiding the success of the dialogue. The Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements refused to sign this communique because it advocated promising to work for the establishment of a Palestinian state delimited by the 1967 borders.
Hawatmeh revealed that Abu Mazen himself told him during a meeting in the presence of Tayseer Khaled and Mohammad Zuhdi al-Nashashibi, both members of the PLO Executive Committee, that he (Abu Mazen) inherited destroyed institutions from Arafat, both in the PLO and in the Palestinian National Authority. The DFLP general secretary felt that this “is the result of the policy of Fatah's own solutions for national Palestinian problems.”
Hawatmeh warned that “the return to this policy will cost us a lot of time and effort and will stir up the fights among Al- Fatah's different sectors, on one hand, and among all the Palestinian militant factions on the other, which would have serious consequences for the whole progress of the Palestinians and would again bring us to division into little groups and, if the conflict gets more acute, possibly a civil war.”
Hawatmeh also criticized those militant factions that just cling to the alternative of resistance as the only option for recovering Palestinian rights. On this point, he indicated that “some say their program is resistance. Very well, we say the same thing. But we wonder: what is the political objective of this resistance and what is the plan for it?”
He immediately added that “resistance without a political basis is acting mindlessly. A rifle without politics turns into blind shooting that can cause more damage than benefits.”
Hawatmeh emphasized the necessity of distinguishing between two stages of the struggle against any occupier: “the stage of national liberation and the stage of constructing a state.” “Now we are in a national liberation stage, which mean necessarily that there should be a national coalition based on a common, concrete political program that draws up the different aspects of our movement arriving at state we long for,” and he added, “Or on the contrary, that each militant faction has different objectives and their own particular way of seeing things, and so tries to put them into effect individually. In this case, this would be chaos, and this is what we've seen in the course of the four years of the Intifada. Now it's time to reevaluate these policies,” Hawatmeh added.
Asked if this vision is enough to counter Sharon's intransigence, Hawatmeh said that “the question isn't limited to Sharon or others. The question has to do with the Palestinian people, since it's absolutely not logical for all the sides to have a vision and a Road Map to put an end to the dispute except for the Palestinians.” Later he said that “Sharon is the spiritual father of Israel's blood-stained, expansionist forces. He rejected the Bilateral Peace Accord with Egypt, in 1979, and he rejects any solution that would lead to the returning of the Golan Heights to the Syrians. Does this mean maybe that we have to sit with our arms crossed without trying to work out a Palestinian Road Map that would let us push like one man to make it happen and achieve its objectives?” “There is a large political process that isn't just the arms of resistance, despite their importance,” Hawatmeh concluded.
The DFLP leader emphasized: “Currently Sharon's plan can be summed up as just forestalling the Unified Palestinian Political Project, in order to tell the world that only his “Unilateral Separation Project” with the Palestinians exists and that no Palestinian counterpart exists to negotiate with.” Next he warned that the Sharon Plan can win out “if Palestinian reality remains stationary without change, moving from an internal struggle in the heart of Fatah, directed in his time and his style by Abu Ammar [Yasser Arafat], to an internal Fatah struggle that Abu Mazen now directs, also in his style, when the only losers in both cases are the Palestinian people and their cause.
* Interviewed carried out Nov. 16, 2004, by Islam On Line