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Interview with Nayef Hawatmeh about the Palestinian situation
May 6, 2007
 

Maan independent News Agency has secured an interview with the secretary general of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Nayef Hawatmeh. They discussed the Palestinian situation, the Mecca accords, the unity government and the continuation of the siege on the Palestinian people.

Question - What is your position regarding the controversial proposed confederation with Jordan, in order to protect the West Bank?

Answer - We all have to envision the issue with Palestinian and Jordanian eyes, which point to the embodiment of a Palestinian political entity. This stipulates the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 territories, with Jerusalem as its capital, in addition to the right of repatriation, guaranteed by UN resolution 194. This is to be achieved within the framework of a comprehensive and balanced peace process.

After that, the shape of the Palestinian-Jordanian political and legal relations could then be determined, whether they will take the form of a confederation or a federation. But, before the Arab-Israeli conflict is settled, the confederation or the federation proposals can have no practical implementation, since the Palestinian people are still deprived of their right to embody their existence in an independent entity.

Q - Do you expect any international party to support the suggestion of a confederated union with Jordan?

A - Let us remember the suggestions of the Reagan administration in September 1982, after the Israeli invasion to Lebanon, and after the departure of the Palestinian forces from the refugee camps in Lebanon. It [the Reagan proposal] was based on a federal union between the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jordan. After 24 years, nothing practical was done, simply because such proposals cannot be implemented practically, and remain illusionary theories, as long as the Palestinians have not accomplished their right of self determination, and established their own independent state.

Q - Regarding the Arab peace initiative, do you expect it to succeed, given the Arab mechanism of dealing with the issue?

A - Frankly speaking, the Arab-Israeli conflict's issues are now stuck between two proposals. The first proposal stems from the decisions reached at the Riyadh summit, which is a theoretical political project lacking the practical lifts and mechanisms to put it into practice. The second proposal is the Arab foreign ministers follow up committee, which consists of 12 foreign ministers. They possess no legislative or determinative authority, and so their efforts remain theoretical political proposals.

As for the adaptation of the Riyadh initiative as a basis for the Arab Israeli negotiations, that will need the agreement of the Israeli government, which still opposes that initiative with four big "No's":

No right of return
No June 4 [1967] borders
No Jerusalem
No evacuation of settlements

These four objections represent the entirety of demands of the Arab peace initiative.

So, the Arab foreign ministers' committees can not promote and activate that peace initiative, if the Arab presidents and kings will not put that initiative on the table of negotiations before the world's superpowers, on the basis of these superpowers' interests in Arab countries. In return, each of these countries must conduct practical steps towards the solution of the Arab-Palestinian conflict, in accordance with the resolutions of the international community.

The second proposal is the US-Israeli project, which is based on normalization before withdrawal from the Palestinian territories.

Q- How long do you think the unity government and the Mecca accord will last?

A- The government consists of Fatah, Hamas, DFLP, and independent members, and so it did not reach the level of comprehensive unity coalition which represents the whole Palestinian people. We still have a long way to achieve national unity.

The current government is in transition. If it succeeds to end the state of chaos and to impose law and order, through uniting the security services, and if it becomes a real government, not monopolized or divided in proportions, it will last longer. On the other hand, if the government remains bilateral, and proportional between Hamas and Fatah, it will reach an impasse in its attempts to break the financial embargo.

As for the Mecca accord, I tell the whole Palestinian people that the proportional distribution of authority between Hamas and Fatah, the attempts to apply that to all Palestinian institutions, the refusal to establish a pan-factional committee at cabinet level, and the latest appointments of general directors are indications that the situation is expected to deteriorate.

That agreement has broken the unilateral monopoly, and attempts to adopt a bilateral oligarchy. This represents one single step forward, and two steps backward; the step forward came through halting inter-Palestinian fighting and so preventing a civil war; the two steps backward were the lack of a political agenda, based on the Arab peace initiative and international legitimacy, in addition to the domination of the bilateral distribution of power, instead of a comprehensive unity government.

We need a transparent governmental agenda and unity government. We need amendments to the law of legislative elections. We need ratification of laws to govern civil society institutions. We need to unify the military wings of the Palestinian factions. We need reform of the PLO and adaptation of a new law of proportional representation in the PLO.

Q- With regards to the Islamic Brotherhood and secularism in Egypt, will that have reflections on the Palestinian situation?

A - This case must be thoroughly examined. Those people might develop ideas in the same way that the Turkish justice party did, who practice a secular policy, which is very different from the embarrassing practices of assaulting sacred places where worshippers perform their rituals, [as well as attacking] the cafés and women. The success which the Muslim Brotherhood might develop in this direction could be reflected in other Arab countries, namely, in Palestine. However, the Palestinian society has its own cultural pluralism, and so they can avoid every belief of ideology which contradicts with theirs. Any Palestinian faction which attempts to impose its own ideology on the Palestinian people will not succeed.

Q - What are the means to lift the siege imposed on the Palestinian people?

A - The major, and possibly the only, way to break that siege is to continue the composition of a comprehensive unity government, comprising all those who signed the national agreement document. They have to adopt a transparent political agenda based on Palestinian rights, the declaration of independence, the Arab peace initiative and international legitimacy. This way, we can secure Arab, Islamic and international reinforcement.

Q - Will the security plan and the plots to bring down Hamas succeed?

A - The DFLP has submitted a proposal for a security plan which was discussed by our representative, Saleh Zeidan. Furthermore, the five Palestinian factions who have military wings have proposed a new plan of five perspectives, one of which deals with the security plan. Yet, the interior minister resigned, and the implementation of the first stage of the plan was hindered because of the clashes between the Fatah-affiliated security services, and the Hamas-affiliated executive force. Besides, the establishment of the Palestinian National Security Council participated in blocking the plan, because it was established on basis of proportional distribution only between Hamas and Fatah.

With regards to bringing Hamas down, this is not about removing or not removing Hamas. What is being proposed is to rearrange the Palestinian unity to comprise all the Palestinians, rather than being monopolized by any single party.

Consequently, there are no plots to topple any Palestinian faction. We are witnessing a division in the Palestinian ranks, which was fueled further by the bilateral Hamas-Fatah agreement. We call on everybody to bypass these disagreements through elections, based on the national agreement document [also known as "the Prisoner's document" and "the national accords"]. He added, "there is no room for removing any faction, since we are in a stage of national liberation, rather than being an independent country, which means that theories of authority and opposition are not applicable."

Q - Will the revival of the PLO be at the expense of the PA?

A - The PLO is a collective entity which unites the Palestinian people. It is the Palestinian Authority's source of reliability, which has been malfunctioning since 1996. The PA's people have turned their back to the Palestinian people, and to the PLO and its institutions. We agreed in Cairo that the PLO should be reactivated on the basis of proportional representation, and so the PLO will be the only entity to defend the Palestinian rights.

As for the PA, it belongs to "the internal Palestine" (Gaza Strip, the West Bank and east Jerusalem) according to the Oslo Accords. Nobody in the Palestinian Diaspora elected the PLC, or the Palestinian president, because their jurisdiction is limited to the 1967 borders. They represent an authority under occupation which enjoys no independence in its decisions, provided that they are governed by the Oslo Accords.

Q - Will the appointment of Palestinian treasurer, Salam Fayyad in charge of the PLO's fund, and the decision to deliver financial aid to the PLO have an effect on cooperation with the government and breaking the siege?

A - Once the donor countries take practical measures and money starts to flow to the PLO's economic committee, including the tax revenue detained by the Israelis, that will be a form of breaking the siege. The PLO will then transfer the money transparently to the Palestinian territories. That can only be achieved through rebuilding the Palestinian unity, based on the national agreement document.

Q - Do you think Hamas can dominate the PLO if they join it, as they did with the PA?

A - We say welcome to Hamas to the PLO, and we affirm that the PLO's institutions can not be founded on the basis of bi-partisan distribution between Hamas and Fatah. It should be based on serious elections, and a new Palestinian National Council must be elected, according to proportional representation, which is the only way to reactivate the PLO.

 
 
 
 

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