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Asharq Al-Awsat Talks to Fatah's Azzam al-Ahmad - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Palestinian Authority [PA] through more than one of its officials has called on Israel to rescind its decision to deport what it described as “infiltrators” into the Palestinian territories. Azzam al-Ahmad, member of Fatah Central Committee and leader of its parliamentary bloc, interprets the Israeli decision as a return to the military orders and military rule that existed before the Oslo Accord in 1993. According to Al-Ahmad, this means “relinquishing the Oslo accord and wriggling out of it, which in its turn means that the occupation still exists.”

Israel, through military and political spokespersons, downplays the gravity of these measures by saying that they are not new, but they go back to 1969, and that they are in the interest of the Palestinian citizen.

Al-Ahmad, in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat aimed at throwing light on the dangers of this ambiguous decision on the existence of the PA itself, and on the entire peace process in the region, says that the issue is not only related to the decision, but also to ancient terminology the army started to use, such as “Judea” and “Samaria” in referring to the West Bank, while such terminology is supposed to have ended according to the stipulations of the Oslo Accord.

Al-Ahmad continues by saying that there are those who have good intentions and interpret the decision as “an attempt by the Israeli side to provoke us in order to go back to the negotiations table; however, I say that it is an attempt to distract us by sideline issues away from the settlement activities, Jerusalem, and the other more important ones.”

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Who are the groups harmed by these decisions?

[Al-Ahmad] There are Palestinians in the West Bank who still do not have identity cards. They have entered on the basis of visas they obtained from the Israeli embassy in Amman, and have not left the West Bank since then.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is the number of such people?

[Al-Ahmad] No one knows their precise number. However, there are those who assess the number as around 10,000 or slightly more. There are the foreign activists who are sympathetic toward the Palestinian cause, and participate in the demonstrations and protest rallies against the separation wall; some of these are Palestinians with foreign nationalities.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What about the Gazans?

[Al-Ahmad] Here lies the danger. The Gazans in the West Bank are divided into three groups, and their number is estimated at some 30,000. There is a group that moved to live in the West Bank before the Oslo Accord and the establishment of the PA; they have settled in the West Bank, got married from its people, and their number is estimated at some 10,000 people. The second group has moved into the West Bank during the era of the PA; most of them are employed by the PA departments, especially the security organizations, and their number is estimated at 10,000 or more. Also there are some 2,000 who took shelter in Ramallah following the coup d’etat (Hamas Movement’s control of the Gaza Strip after defeating the PA and Fatah security organizations in June 2007); these consider themselves to be on the run from Hamas security. Add to this some 500 or 600 of the Gaza rich people who reside in the West Bank.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Does this decision apply even to the Gazans living in the West Bank before the Oslo Accord?

[Al-Ahmad] Yes of course, these are on the list of the “infiltrators” covered by the elastic decision. Let me remind you that during the operation of the so-called “preventive fence” operation in March 2002, in which Israel reoccupied PA regions, especially the West Bank cities, the Israeli army detained hundreds of the security officers of Gazans origins, and threw them at Erez crossing point (Bayt Hanun), which separates the north of Gaza Strip from Israel. The question now is: Are they going to do the same thing, and apply the decision chapter and verse?!

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Politically, what does the decision mean?

[Al-Ahmad] It means that the occupation still exists, the Israeli Government does not recognize the signed agreements, and it is taking the situation back to what it was before Oslo. This means that there is no peace process.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Does this impose anything specific on the PA?

[Al-Ahmad] This imposes a major challenge on the PA, namely to exert pressure on Israel to rescind its decision, which in its turn requires Arab and International action. By the way, we are satisfied with the resolutions adopted a few days ago by the Arab League Council in this respect in which it threatens to go to the UN General Assembly. The resolutions threaten to go to the UN General Assembly and not to the UN Security Council, because we know very well that the United States, as usual, will be waiting in ambush at the UN Security Council to use its veto against any draft resolution. We might develop the situation by transferring anew the entire dossier of the Palestinian issue to the United Nations, and try to use Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which gives the UN General Assembly resolution the power to implement it on the basis of the principle “unity for peace,” as it happened in the fifties during the Korean war. A UN General Assembly resolution supported by Chapter 7 will have the power of a UN Security Council resolution, i.e. it will be binding.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Has the PA adopted any measures?

[Al-Ahmad] Yes, we have. The Arab League has adopted resolutions; so what do you think we have done?! Also we lauded the Arab League Resolutions.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Then, when will the action begin?

[Al-Ahmad] The action has started.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Does this mean that the issue has been submitted to the corridors of the UN General Assembly?

[Al-Ahmad] Yes, and now the Arab League and the Arab group at the United Nations will have to work toward implementing their resolutions whether within the framework of the UN General Assembly or of the International Court of Justice. The series of procedures will continue in order to implement the Geneva Fourth Convention, which stipulates the protection of the population under occupation. What Israel is doing is tantamount to ethnic cleansing, and it has to be confronted with all firmness. The political committee, which consists of the PLO factions and the national powers, and which sponsors the negotiations, has called on the Palestinian public to confront the decision. This decision will lead to the collapse of all forms of cooperation between Israel and the PA, including the security coordination, and this in its turn might lead to complete estrangement that will end up with the collapse of the entire PA. The collapse of the PA is a possibility, naturally if it becomes incapable of offering services to the citizen and protecting him.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What does the collapse of the PA mean?

[Al-Ahmad] It means the collapse of the entire peace process.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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