Buenos Aires – September 20 of 1993
high - price peace
The PLO’ s representative in Argentina, Ambassador Suhail Akel, dreams of a confederation with Israel and Jordan
- As a Palestinian, what did you feel when you saw Arafat and Rabin’ s handshaking?
- A great emotion because I saw the beginning of peace. I needed to see that handshaking, after many bloody, painful and sad decades which were loaded with pain and persecution. I cannot live in the past. We cannot continue with that rivalry, longing for hate and revenge. The alternative is not destroying those who live in the Palestinian land, Israelis and Palestinians.
- Many people say Arafat is a traitor for having signed peace with Rabin.
- Peace has a very expensive price, perhaps more expensive than the price of war, but we have accepted that challenge. As an 80% of the people from the occupied Palestine is in favour of the agreement, the call for a general strike carried out by the agreement’ s opponents failed. In our democracy, there are different opinions and we respect them.
- Why is this handshaking realised today, what have changed?
- We, Palestinians, have been proposing a change since many years ago, when we accepted the UNO resolution number 242. But I believe that Israel’ s fundamental change takes place when they begin to acknowledge the existence of the Palestinian people. From there on, they recognise the PLO as the unique representative of the Palestinian people. The Israelis understood that it is impossible to destroy the Palestinian people and we understood that it is impossible to destroy the Israeli people, and both understood that, from here onwards, we have to share a pacific cohabitation.
- It is interesting, Israelis say that Palestinians have changed and you say that they have changed.
- Both of us have changed, times were different. We had changed many years before, in 1988; when declaring our independence, we recognised the State of Israel. Did not Arafat say it on December 13 of 1988 in the United Nations? At that moment, we desired a mutual acknowledgement, but, unfortunately, Israel denied recognising the PLO, it rejected our independence declaration and it did not recognise that we had condemned terrorism. That is why there was no direct dialogue, as the change was not reciprocal, it was impossible to reach an agreement.
- Many annalists say that the PLO has taken this step because Palestine is out of economic resources due to the support given to Saddam during the Golf War. They add that it is weakened.
- This is a fake, the PLO has not reached this agreement in a crestfallen way, just the opposite. We have reached it in a strengthened way. We have achieved that our enemy recognises the PLO as the unique representative of the Palestinian people for the first time.
- If a Palestine State is created in Cisjordan and Gaza Strip today, Wouldn’ t you desire the entire Israel’ s territory?
- This is an Israeli version. We do believe that a Palestinian-Jordan-Israeli confederation will have to exist in the future, with a common currency which leads to the economic, social and cultural growth of the region.
- Do you want to come back to Jerusalem, your birthplace?
- I do, undoubtedly. I was expelled from my land and intolerance transformed me into a refugee who cannot go back to his homeland. These agreements, after 45 years, will allow me to go back to the land which belongs to me. At least, I will see my ancestors’ graves and the place where I was born. It is a right all Palestinian people deserve.
- Would you sit down to dialogue with the Israeli Ambassador in Argentina?
- With pleasure, I have expressed my intention of having a conversation with Israeli Ambassador in many opportunities.