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Magazine ARCA DEL SUR ( view)
Jewish Magazine in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires – May, 1992

We have condemned the attack to the Israeli Embassy because it is an attack to the Argentine democracy and sovereignty. Committing an attack 14,000km away and jeopardizing the life of innocent civilians are not a solution”, Suhail Hani Daher Akel expressed –director of the Information Office of the PLO in Argentina- to the Arca del Sur magazine.

Akel is 45, he is married and he emphasizes in his resume that he was born in “Jerusalem, Palestine”, and that he is “another refugee”. The name Suhail means “start that appears at dawn”, Hani means “peaceful” and Akel “intelligent”. The interview took place at the PLO Office in Buenos Aires, below a huge portrait of Yasser Arafat. On Akel’ s request, we did not use a cassette recorder. Though it was cordial, the conversation which lasted more than 3 hours had its moments of tension, eased by Arab coffee, nuts and raisins. These moments were inevitable due to disagreements and mutual distrusts. Next there is a summary:

· On November 15 of 1988, the PLO, according to Akel, declared the independence of the Palestine State and it also recognized the existence of the State of Israel and the need to live together in an independent Palestine State with safe borders. “Up to now Israel has not accepted the existence of an independent Palestine State”.

· Facing a direct question from the reporter about the fact that if he learnt who the authors of the attack were, would you offer this information to the Argentine justice?, he textually answered: “Of course, but I do not know it”. He does not recognize either any group that tries to free the Palestinian territory by means of terrorism.

· According to Akel, the PLO is made up of Muslims, Christians and Jews. “It is the structure of the Palestine State and not only an Organization, as some people try to show”.

· Facing a question about the severe defeat of the PLO by fundamentalists in Ramallah, he explains that “it is a democracy and every people can democratically choose their representatives”.

· Palestinians, according to Akel, are victims of the “European Jewish groups’ terrorism. They came to our land and we were pushed out from it to create the State of Israel. This was shown when minister Shamir justified the terrorism for the creation of the State of Israel on September 4 of 1991”. Controversy is tougher when the reporter mentions that when Palestinians were killed in Jordan, in the black September, the Israeli people were not the culprits. Akel answered sharply, eluding the question: “We did not go to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Americas just for tourism. We went there escaping from the massacres of the Israeli army”. But after so many years, they consider that: “So as it is very difficult for us to accept the partition of our land, it is also unacceptable the destruction of the people. That is why we try the dialogue and understanding with the State of Israel. We are not negotiating on the same foot because while we are sitting at the table of conversations, Israel continuously creates new settlements. Nowadays, no more than 200,000 Jewish settlers control the 53% of our occupied territories, and the 90% of water of the 2,500,000 Palestinians”.

· With regard to peace negotiations, according to Akel, the PLO applies for an autonomy supervised by the UN. An autonomy which “allows us to control our people and our land and helps us establish the foundations of the Palestine State. But Israel rejects this proposal and offers in exchange an autonomy in which they would control the land, water and international relations. We could not have our government, our flag and our hymn. We would become a Sioux reserve, in an Apartheid”.

Akel did not say it, but the reporter’ s impression after the conversation is that both the PLO and the Israeli pacifist left –both sectors- have been between crossed fires for a long time. In fact, the PLO is the filling of the sandwich. If Israel does not reach an agreement with them, it will have to deal with Islamic fundamentalists later on. And it is very difficult to come to logic solutions with them.

V. G.

*Director of the Information Office of the PLO in Argentina.

Photo: Suhail Akel: “If I knew who the authors of the attack are, I would tell it to the Argentine justice”.

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