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Fatah Worried Intifada May Be Running Out of Gas

Wednesday, August 29, 2001 | Tag Cloud Tags: ,

Fatah Worried Intifada May Be Running Out of Gas
Marwan Barghouti, the senior Fatah leader in the "West Bank," is having a hard time explaining how a "popular" Palestinian uprising is not so popular among the public anymore.

The level of public support for the six-month-old Palestinian campaign of violence against Israel has begun to tumble, as the "nationalist and Islamic forces" commanding the renewed intifada have nothing to show for the loss of over 350 lives so far. With economic woes mounting, fewer Palestinians are showing up for planned violent demonstrations and some have begun advocating the use of non-violent means of protest to win world sympathy.

Last Friday, in an interview with the JERUSALEM TIMES, Barghouti said "since the beginning of the intifada, 66 Israelis have been killed and 614 injured; those are good results... We will try to break [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon on the issue of security. The intifada will last until the liberation of the land and the declaration of the Palestinian State. [In my opinion] the state will be declared within the next three years."

When asked how he, as leader of Fatah forces, would respond if PLO chief Yasser Arafat called for an end to the violence, he explained that the uprising was a spontaneous and popular movement among the Palestinian people, uncontrollable by outside forces. "Arafat would not do such a thing, because stopping the intifada would represent a disaster for the Palestinian people and he simply wouldn't issue orders that harm the Palestinians. The key to the intifada is not in my hands, anyway. It is in the Palestinian street. The intifada is different from a war that can be launched with a single decision. The intifada is the result of feelings reflected randomly. Nobody can decide to start or end it."

But in what appeared to be a complete reversal, Barghouti stated on Thursday that a decision had been made to scale down the violence of the uprising and to establish a new "intifada leadership." ISRAEL RADIO quoted an interview with Barghouti in the Palestinian Authority's AL-HAYAT AL-JADIDA newspaper, in which he says the new policy will focus on combating the change in government in Israel and that the new leadership committee will include students, academics and other sectors of Palestinian society.

In an interview with HA'ARETZ, Barghouti confirmed, "I said we should encourage the participation of other people, and concentrate on non-violent means so that all [Palestinians] will participate in activities, and I spoke about the importance of attracting various sectors of society, such as the students and members of labor unions." As part of the new approach, mass peaceful marches are planned in Ramallah and Nablus in coming days.

By Friday, though, Barghouti reversed his position again, saying there were no plans to lessen the violence or to establish a new leadership. Barghouti said the comments were made with the intention of increasing the number of Palestinians taking part in the "intifada," the same uprising that he said was so spontaneous and uncontrollable a week ago that no one person could stop it.

Israeli security sources confirm that the Palestinians are questioning whether their cause is best served by shooting and bombing attacks. While the Palestinians wanted to escalate the conflict leading up to next Tuesday's Arab League summit in Amman, there has been for the past few weeks a realization among PA leadership that the US is backing Israel's demand that there be calm before any peace talks resume.

For many, violence still remains the only option, even if it comes as the expense of the local Palestinian population. International Arab media confirms wider Arab support of continued violence. An editorial in Egypt's AL-USBU newspaper stated last week, "Are we afraid of war? But war is forced on us. Are we afraid of Jihad? What is life worth without Jihad? What is the value of a life of humiliation and submission? Is this not our nation[?]...Yes, we will beat you [Israel], and turn your lives into hell. Don't be misled by your false power, because among us there are people who are not afraid of death. These are the same people who forced you to withdraw humiliated from South Lebanon... and from the Sinai."

And Feisal al-Husseini, PLO Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, considered by many to be a "moderate" among Palestinian leaders, spoke to a forum of Arab lawyers in Beirut yesterday, saying "the current intifada... is not an act of protest, but rather a liberation movement, which must not be stopped until it reaches full Palestinian independence." In reference to Sharon's demand that the violence be brought to an end before the start of any negotiations, Husseini said that acceptance of this point would mean that the Palestinians would be forced to begin negotiations on Sharon's terms.

According to a MEMRI translation, Husseini continued, "The Arab summit [that will convene next week] must stay away from the logic under which Sharon must be given the chance. We expect many real clashes with the Israelis in the upcoming months, especially in Jerusalem. All the elements for an explosion exist. We are convinced that the confrontation in Jerusalem will move the world from Indonesia to Morocco. It will be a sign for the US, which will be forced to understand that its support of Israel will destroy stability in the whole region. We are facing a battle and we are already preparing ourselves for it from this moment. We must not let Sharon succeed from the security standpoint because then he will defeat us, politically... We may lose or win [tactically] but our eyes will continue to aspire to the strategic goal, namely, to Palestine from the river to the sea. Whatever we get now cannot make us forget this supreme truth."

Meanwhile, the Fatah leadership in eastern Jerusalem has not eased up on their violent rhetoric either, and issued a threat yesterday to participants in the upcoming Jerusalem Conference of Mayors not to dare enter east Jerusalem and the Old City with Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert.

Hatam Abdel Khader, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a senior Fatah official, said Fatah leaders and PLC members from east Jerusalem decided on the move at a joint meeting aimed at preventing the mayors from attending the conference. Khader said letters were sent to the invitees to the conference warning that Fatah could not "guarantee their safety" if they visit the eastern part of the city.

Fifty-three mayors from 33 countries, including eight from the US, are to arrive in Jerusalem on Sunday for the 21st annual Jerusalem Conference of Mayors. The six-day conference is being led by the president of the US Conference of Mayors, Mayor H. Brent Coles of Boise, Idaho, and is sponsored by the American Jewish Congress, the US Conference of Mayors, and Israel's Foreign Ministry.

The mayors will tour the country and meet with Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, President Moshe Katsav, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. Olmert plans to take them on a walking tour of the Old City, but the Palestinians have promised "demonstrations" if the visit takes place as scheduled.

Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

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Worthy Christian News » Israel-Palestinian Conflict » Fatah Worried Intifada May Be Running Out of Gas