On February 3, 2002, The New York Times published an op-ed piece by Yasser Arafat entitled, "A Palestinian Vision of Peace"
Following is the text of Arafat's article (in italics), followed by points of rebuttal.
For the past 16 months, Israelis and Palestinians have been locked in a catastrophic cycle of violence, a cycle which only promises more bloodshed and fear. The cycle has led many to conclude that peace is impossible, a myth borne out of ignorance of the Palestinian position. Now is the time for the Palestinians to state clearly, and for the world to hear clearly, the Palestinian vision.
The violence in Israel is not a "cycle of violence." Arafat is confusing the arsonist with the firefighter. The IDF only uses force to save lives (i.e. killing a bomber before he blows himself up) or to protect Israeli citizens in danger (i.e. establishing a road block so Palestinian rioters do not enter Jewish towns). Arafat is trying to establish a "moral equivalency" between terrorists killing innocent civilians and an established army which operates under the world's highest level of morality
* * *
But first, let me be very clear. I condemn the attacks carried out by terrorist groups against Israeli civilians. These groups do not represent the Palestinian people or their legitimate aspirations for freedom. They are terrorist organizations, and I am determined to put an end to their activities.
Arafat personally controls the Fatah and Tanzim terrorist organizations -- they are on the payroll of the Palestinian Authority. Arafat said recently that he himself hopes to be a martyr.
Arafat's words in English, directed to the world media, are strikingly different from the statements he makes in Arabic to his own people, either directly in Arabic speeches, or indirectly through his state-controlled newspapers, TV and radio. Last week, he called unabashedly for "Jihad! Jihad! Jihad!"
See http://www.memri.org/ for translations of Arab media.
Our ultimate goal is the liberation of all historical Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean sea.
Faisal Husseini, the PLO representative in Jerusalem and PA minister, gave an interview to the Egyptian daily "Al-Arabi" (June 24, 2001) Husseini said: "If we agree to declare our state over what is now only 22 percent of Palestine, meaning the West Bank and Gaza -- our ultimate goal is [still] the liberation of all historical Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] sea, even if this means that the conflict will last for another thousand years or for many generations."
Two new video documentaries
(http://www.shopnetdaily.com/store/subdept.asp?SUBDEPARTMENT_ID=116) produced in France, "Israel and the War of Images" and "The Trojan Horse," use footage from Palestinian television and other sources showing Arafat and his spokesmen, clerics and negotiators revealing that peace negotiations with Israel are part of a strategy leading ultimately and inevitably to the destruction of the Jewish state. Over and over again, Palestinian leaders explain their ultimate goals remain a Palestine from "the sea to the river" -- i.e. from the Jordan to the Mediterranean.
All the comments were made from 1994-99, after the signing of the Oslo Accords in which Arafat pledged to renounce violence against Israel and to promote mutual respect between the negotiating parties.
Arafat himself explains the ploy in a 1994 speech in South Africa. "I don't consider the agreement any more than the agreement which was signed by our prophet Muhammad and the Qurayish," he said. Muhammad signed a peace agreement with the Qurayish (Jews who lived in Mecca), then abrogated the agreement as soon as his Islamic warriors were strong enough to conquer them.
The videos also show Arafat calling for jihad and total victory over Israel, his spokesmen denying the reality of the Jewish Holocaust, the training of Arab children as young as 4 years old in commando-style warfare, and the indoctrination of the young in martyrdom.
On August 3, 2000, even before violence erupted, The New York Times ran a front page story detailing the military training at Palestinian summer camps where children as young as 8 received instruction in armed combat and were taught the value of martyrdom.
An editorial in the Palestinian "Al Hayat" (October 27, 2000) said that "parents who discourage their children from throwing rocks at Israelis are committing the most severe an aggressions... and harm us more than the bullets of the occupation."
They are all liars. They must be massacred. Wherever you meet them, kill them.
One segment from Arafat's Palestinian TV shows an Islamic religious sermon: "Jews are Jews. Amongst those are no moderates, nor peace partisans. They are all liars. They must be massacred. They must be killed. Allah the Almighty said, 'Fight them. That's what the Jews are. Have no pity for them, wherever they are, in whatever country. Fight them wherever you are, wherever you meet them, kill them."
See more incitement from the Palestinian Authority:
So while Arafat writes that he condemns terrorism, his actions speak far louder than words.
* * *
The Palestinian vision of peace is an independent and viable Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, living as an equal neighbor alongside Israel with peace and security for both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. In 1988, the Palestine National Council adopted a historic resolution calling for the implementation of applicable United Nations resolutions, particularly, Resolutions 242 and 338. The Palestinians recognized Israel's right to exist on 78 percent of historical Palestine with the understanding that we would be allowed to live in freedom on the remaining 22 percent, which has been under Israeli occupation since 1967. Our commitment to that two-state solution remains unchanged, but unfortunately, also remains unreciprocated.
In truth, Israeli presence in the West Bank and Gaza is not defined as "occupation" under international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention, designed to protect the domination of one sovereign people by another, it can only apply if the Palestinian Arabs had at one time held sovereignty in the territories, which they have not.
Prior to 1967, the land in question was never a Palestinian Arab entity, and was not legitimately annexed by Jordan, Egypt or any other sovereign state. Thus the land cannot be considered "occupied."
If not territorially occupied, Palestinians may then claim that they are "personally" occupied. But the fact is that 98 percent of Palestinians live completely under the Palestinian Authority. Israel is not controlling their schools, collecting taxes from them, handling trash pickup, paving their roads, or building their government offices. All administrative matters are under complete Palestinian control. Palestinians continuing to live in squalid camps is the full responsibility of the Palestinian Authority under which they live.
It is true that Israel can still take control of security matters in these areas, but this was a stipulation agreed to by both sides in the Oslo negotiations.
The drafters of UN Resolution 242 specifically avoided calling for Israel's return to pre-1967 borders.
UN Resolution 242 calls for: "Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict." The drafters of Resolution 242 -- British Ambassador to the UN in 1967, Lord Caradon, and American Ambassador, Arthur Goldberg -- specifically avoided calling for Israel's return to the pre-1967 borders, saying "from territories" and not "from the territories" or "from all territories."
In an interview in the Beirut Daily Star on June 12, 1974, Caradon stated: "It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967 because these positions were undesirable and artificial. After all, they were just the places where the soldiers on each side happened to be on the day the fighting stopped in 1948. They were just armistice lines. That's why we didn't demand that the Israelis return to them, and I think we were right not to."
On the subject of documents, we see that the PLO Charter (Arafat is still chairman of the PLO) insists that negotiations with Israel are merely tactical. Article 2 states: "Palestine with its boundaries that existed at the time of the British mandate is an integral regional unit." In other words, we want it all.
When the charter refers to "liberation of Palestine," it means the land stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River -- which includes all of Israel, not just the West Bank and Gaza.
Article 9 states: "Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine and is therefore a strategy and not a tactic..." So here we see that armed struggle (read: "terrorism") isn't just the work of some random nuts -- it's established clearly in the Palestinian national document.
Article 15: "The liberation of Palestine from the Arab view point is a national duty to repulse the Zionist, imperialist invasion from the great Arab homeland and to purge it from the Zionist presence..." Concluding with this, the Palestinian national aim is the removal of all Jews from the Jewish historical homeland, Israel.
See a listing of Palestinian violations of peace agreements:
* * *
We seek true independence and full sovereignty: the right to control our own airspace, water resources and borders; to develop our own economy, to have normal commercial relations with our neighbors, and to travel freely. In short, we seek only what the free world now enjoys and only what Israel insists on for itself: the right to control our own destiny and to take our place among free nations.
These are all legitimate aims. However the underlying principle of Oslo and other subsequent agreements was the resolution of conflict by negotiations, not violence.
Palestinians continue to use terror to advance their aims. When Ehud Barak put all of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza on the table, including half of Jerusalem, Arafat flatly rejected the unprecedented offer, refused to make a counter-offer, and began what we now know as the "Second Intifada." In March 2001, Imad Faluji, the Palestinian National Authority's Communications Minister, announced that the uprising was planned by Palestinian officials prior to its outbreak.
* * *
In addition, we seek a fair and just solution to the plight of Palestinian refugees who for 54 years have not been permitted to return to their homes. We understand Israel's demographic concerns and understand that the right of return of Palestinian refugees, a right guaranteed under international law and United Nations Resolution 194, must be implemented in a way that takes into account such concerns. However, just as we Palestinians must be realistic with respect to Israel's demographic desires, Israelis too must be realistic in understanding that there can be no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if the legitimate rights of these innocent civilians continue to be ignored. Left unresolved, the refugee issue has the potential to undermine any permanent peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis. How is a Palestinian refugee to understand that his or her right of return will not be honored but those of Kosovar Albanians, Afghans and East Timorese have been?
Regarding Palestinian refugees: In 1948, during the Israeli War of Independence, the surrounding Arab states sent a clear message to their Arab brethren in Palestine to flee. Khaled Azam, Prime Minister of Syria in 1948, wrote in his memoirs: "Since 1948 we demand the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves were the ones who encouraged them to leave."
During the war, about 600,000 Palestinian Arabs left and became refugees. At the same time, around 600,000 Jews left surrounding Arab countries (where most had been living for generations upon generations) because of terrible persecution -- and came to Israel as refugees.
The real problem of the refugee problem begins here, but not because of Israel's actions. Nearly every Arab country refused to accept Palestinian-Arab refugees, and even those who could move to neighboring Arab states were refused citizenship. Both Iraq and Syria had serious labor shortages in the ‘50s and would have benefited from Palestinian-Arab immigrants. So while Israel welcomed Jewish refugees with open arms, Arab states kept Palestinian-Arabs in squalid refugee camps to use them as a political pawn against Israel.
When Jews in Russia, Ethiopia, and the Arab world have been threatened, the Jewish community and the State of Israel have come to their aid. Great Jewish philanthropists help alleviate Jewish suffering. Where is the Arab Edgar Bronfman? The Arab Bob Kraft? The Arab Leslie Dan? Arafat has been spending international aid money on illegal weapons, smuggling weapons from Iran, and bankrolling terror. He has stashed away billions in personal wealth, while his people live in poverty. His Palestinian Authority is widely regarded as one of the most corrupt regimes on the planet.
So if Arafat wants to complain about the plight of Palestinian refugees, he should start by looking in the mirror.
More info about refugees at:
* * *
There are those who claim that I am not a partner in peace. In response, I say Israel's peace partner is, and always has been, the Palestinian people. Peace is not a signed agreement between individuals -- it is reconciliation between peoples. Two peoples cannot reconcile when one demands control over the other, when one refuses to treat the other as a partner in peace, when one uses the logic of power rather than the power of logic. Israel has yet to understand that it cannot have peace while denying justice. As long as the occupation of Palestinian lands continues, as long as Palestinians are denied freedom, then the path to the "peace of the brave" that I embarked upon with my late partner Yitzhak Rabin, will be littered with obstacles.
A key element of reconciliation between peoples should be the education of children for peace. The Palestinians should be teaching their children that Israelis/Jews are normal people, partners for peace, worthy neighbors... but that is not the case.
Visit http://edume.org/reports/index.htm for reports on Palestinian Authority textbooks -- they have elementary math problems which teach addition skills with the killing of Jews, and geography maps that don't contain the state of Israel, only Palestine.
One example comes from "Modern Arab History for Twelfth Grade Part 1": "With an understanding of the racist and aggressive character of the Zionist movement, please summarize the similarity between Nazism, Fascism and Zionism."
* * *
The Palestinian people have been denied their freedom for far too long and are the only people in the world still living under foreign occupation. How is it possible that the entire world can tolerate this oppression, discrimination and humiliation? The 1993 Oslo Accord, signed on the White House lawn, promised the Palestinians freedom by May 1999. Instead, since 1993, the Palestinian people have endured a doubling of Israeli settlers, expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land and increased restrictions on freedom of movement. How do I convince my people that Israel is serious about peace while over the past decade Israel intensified the colonization of Palestinian land from which it was ostensibly negotiating a withdrawal?
Arafat is confused. "Doubling of Israeli settlers" is not against any agreements. While Palestinian military and incitement activities are explicitly outlawed by Oslo, settlements are in no way restricted in the Oslo documents. According to signed agreements, Israel cannot claim additional land for new settlements, but if existing settlements already own land for future, natural growth, such growth is perfectly legal.
It is important to note that any restriction on Palestinian freedom of movement is the result of illegal Palestinian violence. If not for the Palestinian violence there would be no need for the restrictions that cost Israel's economy and strain Israel's security manpower.
Avi Davis writes about the settlements: International law is based on the principle that an aggressor cannot benefit from an illegal act -- which would be the case if the Arabs received the territory they had lost in 1967 without offering the Israelis peace in exchange. U.N. Resolution 242, eventually accepted as the basis for negotiations by the Egyptians, Jordanians and Palestinians, uses this concept as the framework for its recommendations for a peaceful settlement. It anticipates a withdrawal of Israeli armed forces "from territories" (and not all the territories -- an important distinction) but predicates that on the "termination of all states of belligerency... and the right to live in peace within secure recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."
In other words, until Israel has in hand a peace treaty that definitively guarantees its security and assures a "just and lasting peace," it has, under international law, every right to hold the territories it captured in war. This was enunciated by Peter Schwebel in 1970, the future President of the International Court of Justice (64 American Journal of International Law, page 344).
The West Bank and Gaza, according to international law, is no-mans land, open to settlement by anybody.
But lets say for the sake of argument that the West Bank and Gaza should be returned to their "rightful owners." Who exactly would they be? Not the Palestinians, since there was no Palestinian state or Palestinian sovereignty over either territory in June 1967 and nor has there ever been. Not the Jordanians, who did what the Israelis would not do and illegally annexed the West Bank in 1950, have now renounced their claims and have no legitimate position there. Not the Egyptians, who occupied the Gaza Strip in violation of international law for 19 years.
Ironically, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, because of the failure of the Arab nations to embrace the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan is, according to international law, neither Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian or Egyptian, but post- Mandatory no-mans land, waiting for an owner. And under this status there is no bar to settlement by anybody -- whether Arab or Jew.
* * *
But no degree of oppression and no level of desperation can ever justify the killing of innocent civilians. I condemn terrorism. I condemn the killing of innocent civilians, whether they are Israeli, American or Palestinian; whether they are killed by Palestinian extremists, Israeli settlers, or by the Israeli government. But condemnations do not stop terrorism. To stop terrorism, we must understand that terrorism is simply the symptom, not the disease.
The wanted terrorists killed by Israel were supposed to be arrested by the PA. They are dead because the PA did not honor their obligations and hold them. For example, when Raed Karmi, commander of the Arafat-affiliated Tanzim in Tulkarm, was killed when a bomb exploded near his home on January 14, Karmi was walking freely on the streets of Tulkarm. He was not in the custody of Palestinian security officials, even though the PA recently assured European officials that he had been arrested and was in custody.
Regarding "political assassinations": If America were to assassinate Osama Bin Laden, it wouldn't be political. Bin Laden represents a major threat to the lives of Americans, just as the killing of Palestinian terrorists and bomb-makers undeniably saves innocent lives.
Somehow Arafat fails to make mention the ship owned by the Palestinian Authority and staffed by its naval officers that was recently seized while smuggling tons of Iranian arms into the supposedly demilitarized Palestinian Authority.
* * *
The personal attacks on me currently in vogue may be highly effective in giving Israelis an excuse to ignore their own role in creating the current situation. But these attacks do little to move the peace process forward and, in fact, are not designed to. Many believe that Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, given his opposition to every peace treaty Israel has ever signed, is fanning the flames of unrest in an effort to delay indefinitely a return to negotiations. Regrettably, he has done little to prove them wrong. Israeli government practices of settlement construction, home demolitions, political assassinations, closures and shameful silence in the face of Israeli settler violence and other daily humiliations are clearly not aimed at calming the situation.
Arafat writes of Ariel Sharon's "opposition to every peace treaty." But Knesset voting records show that Sharon supported Israel's withdrawal from Sinai. Sharon supported the treaty with Jordan, too. And Sharon negotiated the deal with Arafat at Wye.
Oops, Yasser got caught in a lie!
As for his reference to "home demolitions": Houses have been demolished because they provided cover for illegal Palestinian attacks and the smuggling of illegal weapons from Egypt via an intricate tunnel system. The demolished homes sat atop entrances to the tunnels. Tunnels are operated by families living close to the border and are dug beneath their properties; the IDF has discovered ladders, ropes, flashlights, shovels, and intercom systems.
These houses would be standing today if the PA honored its end of the deal and used it tens of thousands of security forces to keep the peace.
All the Israeli government has asked for is, 10 days of quiet -- no killing of innocent Israelis, no violence against the military -- before negotiations. No state should ask for less than that.
* * *
The Palestinians have a vision of peace: it is a peace based on the complete end of the occupation and a return to Israel's 1967 borders, the sharing of all Jerusalem as one open city and as the capital of two states, Palestine and Israel. It is a warm peace between two equals enjoying mutually beneficial economic and social cooperation. Despite the brutal repression of Palestinians over the last four decades, I believe when Israel sees Palestinians as equals, and not as a subjugated people upon whom it can impose its will, such a vision can come true. Indeed it must.
Israel, unlike the Palestinians, has been teaching in schools that Arabs are human and are peace partners. Israel has compensated many Palestinian refugees for land and homes lost since 1948. Palestinians in Israel enjoy the freest press of any Arab community -- even those communities in Arab states. Palestinians in Israel enjoy the protection of the court system, which is blind to ethnicity. Arabs sit in the Knesset as equals with Jewish members.
* * *
Palestinians are ready to end the conflict. We are ready to sit down now with any Israeli leader, regardless of his history, to negotiate freedom for the Palestinians, a complete end of the occupation, security for Israel and creative solutions to the plight of the refugees while respecting Israel's demographic concerns. But we will only sit down as equals, not as supplicants; as partners, not as subjects; as seekers of a just and peaceful solution, not as a defeated nation grateful for whatever scraps are thrown our way. For despite Israel's overwhelming military advantage, we possess something even greater: the power of justice.
What justice is there in the Palestinian Authority? Arafat may want "justice" for himself, but he denies it to his people. If a Palestinian-Arab were to speak out against Arafat, he'd be shot. Palestinian law states that any Arab selling land to a Jew is punishable by death. Palestinians who maintain contacts in Israel during the "intifada" are accused of "collaboration with the enemy" and killed by militias. Other "collaborators" are executed by PA firing squads after a one-day trial.
On February 5, three Palestinians being held in a PA jail were attacked and lynched by a Palestinian vigilante mob.
Justice? Arafat knows no justice.
Instead of spending his time on an op-ed in the New York Times Arafat could make a real contribution towards peace and reconciliation by arresting terrorists, stopping incitement, and collecting illegal weapons.
Material courtesy of HonestReporting.com, IMRA, WorldNetDaily, and Avi Davis.