Buenos Aires – Friday, January 15, 1993
Interview with Suhail Hani Daher Akel, a director from the PLO office in the Argentina Republic
blow which breaks our back encourages us to go on (view)
By Ricardo Lezcano, Journalist
In a several-storey office –comparable to an Embassy- where you can find Palestinian literature and traditional handicrafts made of nacre and olive wood, the PLO representative in Argentina expressed his concern about his people and the peace conference freezing. At the same time, without hiding his optimism with regard to the fact that “very soon Palestinians may have the possibility of having their Embassy in Argentina”, he emphasized the good will of the Argentine government since it allows them to freely work in the country.
-Israel stated that Palestinians’ deportation took place shortly after the killing of many Israeli soldiers. Are these the real arguments?
-We do not agree with violence episodes, but we have not caused this violence. You must not forget that these soldiers belonged to an army which has militarily occupied our homeland and has killed and restrained our defenseless people for decades. We agree with the fact that culprits must be identified and put under arrest, but we cannot accept or justify the deportation of hundreds of human beings, uprooting them from the bosom of their families, isolating them from the world and exposing them to famine, diseases, the almost-polar cold and the psychological torture of living in the middle of two armies and warplanes which overfly and bombard nearby places. I would like to remind you of something which took place at the Beita Palestinian village, located in the West Bank, on April 6, 1988. Jewish settlers, who entered the village shooting their M-16 rifles and killing two Palestinian boys who were 19 and 20 years old, surprisingly attacked this village. During this episode, a 15-year-old Israeli girl died from a gunshot wound on his head. This cause the Israeli army to enter the village, demolish eight Palestinian houses, arrested dozens of people and kill a 16-year-old boy. Later on, the Israeli Justice found out that the killer of the girl was one of settlers, Roman Aldubi (26), who was from the Elom Moret Israeli settlement.
-Do you mean that the killing of the soldiers has been used as an excuse to deport Palestinians?
-I cannot assure that, but the culprits have not been found yet. However, the Prime Minister Rabin urges us to put an end to the Intifada (popular uprising) in exchange for revising the deported people issue in a gradual way, during a two- year period. In this case, the reading of the situation is different since the Israeli administration could be trying to move away from the peace dialogue with Palestinians and it could be trying to exchange - at the expense of our people’s suffering- Intifada’s claims to achieve our national and sovereign rights on our land.
-Could the PLO accept the finalization of the Intifada?
-No; on the contrary, the Intifada is constantly growing day after day. There is a popular saying which says that: “the blow which breaks our back encourages us to go on”. Our Intifada is similar to yours: Argentines took stones and boiling oil to get rid of the English occupation in viceroyalty times.
-What do you think of the international reaction before Palestinians’ deportation to “no body’s land”?
-Firstly, there is no “no body’s land”, that land is a Lebanese territory which was occupied by Israel in 1982. On December 18, 1992, the UN Security Council –in its resolution 799- “firmly condemns the action taken by the Occupant Power” and –in its fourth item- it urges the Occupant Power to “immediately return the deported people to the occupied territories”. At the same time, the European Community condemned this Israeli attitude which infringes the decisions of the 4º Geneva Convention –1949- with regard to human rights and civilian rights in times of war. But Israel –the unique country created by means of an UN resolution- ignored this resolution. Besides it has never respected UN resolutions which urge it to withdraw from the Palestinian occupied territories, including Jerusalem.
-How are now the Peace Conversations which began in Madrid in 1992?
-There is no doubt that Israel’s dagger got to the corn of peace negotiations. We are trying to do our best to achieve a decent peace for both people and States. We have opened our hearts and arms, but there must be two people prepared to achieve peace in order to sign it. It is impossible to move forward when one of the parts in conflict –in this case Rabin’s administration- continues wielding the three NO of the previous Shamir’s administration: NO withdrawal from the occupied territories, NO independent Palestine State and NO dialogue with the PLO. The president of the Palestine State, engineer Yasser Arafat, expressed his interest in having a meeting with Premier Rabin in order to find together the way of peace. However, this meeting was systematically denied. Unfortunately, Rabin is proving to be the other side of a same coin.
-Is is true that there was a secret meeting between Syria and Israel?
-Israel has always evaded reality and it has always approached agreements with different Arab countries in an isolated way. Syria maintains a common front together with Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine at the Peace Conference. In different opportunities, it has shown interest in signing peace in exchange for the Israeli withdrawal from all the territories which were occupied in the 1967 and 1982 wars. But if Israel seduced Syria, it would be the re-birth of a new Camp David (Egypt-Israeli peace agreement), which did not manage to pacify the zone or avoid the wars which took place between Arabs and Israelis later on. If Israel really wants to achieve a true peace in the region, it will have to maturely assume the solution to the Palestinian issue –which is the corn of the Arab-Israeli conflict- and it will have to withdraw from the Syrian Golan Heights, from the one thousand square kilometers which are occupied in Southern Lebanon and from the occupied territories in the Palestine State. Otherwise, Israel would be accelerating a fratricidal war in the region.
-Then, do you believe that peace conversations have failed and they have reached a deadlock?
-No, we believe that dialogue is really necessary. We continue supporting the continuation of the Peace Conference, but the problem of our 420 brothers who were unfairly deported must be solve in order for conversations to be resumed.