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Newspaper El Cronista
Buenos Aires – August 25, 1997

Interview with the Palestinian Ambassador in Argentina

We are not Israel’s enemies (view)

Maria Cecilia Barro Gil
From El Cronista staff

The double suicidal attack which took place at a market in Jerusalem on July 30 again affected the possibility of reaching a pacific way out of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, it sharpened the existent polarization of both parts.

The Palestinian diplomatic representative in Argentina, Suhail Akel, held a conversation with El Cronista about the tricky situation in the region after the violence episodes. He expressed that the closing of Gaza and Cisjordan by Israel causes his people an economic frustration which favours the existence of terrorist centres.

-What do you think of the situation in Middle East, after the recent attack in Jerusalem?

- Firstly, we profoundly condemn any terrorist act, no matter where it comes from. The attack in Jerusalem affected both people; there were victims from both sides. We consider that the Israeli government makes a mistake putting pressure on all our people, the Palestinian government and president Yasser Arafat, especially. We are not the enemies of Israel, we are the allies of the Israeli people. We are victims, together with the Israeli people, of all this attacks which prejudice the peace process. When Netanyahu’s government punishes the Palestinian people, it is creating centres in favour of terrorism.

- How is terrorism combated?

- The only way to combat terrorism is carrying out a real peace process which permits a cohabitation with tolerance and dignity for both people, starting from the sovereignty for both people, each of them on their own land and their own homeland. With the blockade of our cities, Israel does not precisely contribute to the eradication of terrorism; but on the contrary, it promotes frustration. Today there are 120,000 workers who are not able to attend their jobs in Israel and each of them are in charge of eight or ten relatives, then there are 800,000 people who are suffering from famine. Besides, Israel keeps our people’s money, when it keeps the taxes of the Palestinian workers. Israel creates real concentration camps when it blockades our cities among themselves. The Palestinian citizen is not able to travel around his own territory. We are reaching the third millenium and Israel continues with its slavery policy against our people, with a high grade of xenophobia and racism.

- In this context, considering the boycott launched by the Palestine National Authority against the importation of Israeli products, isn’t it self-defeating for the Palestinian people?

- The boycott is a way of putting pressure on the Israeli government in order for it not to continue with its tough policy towards Palestinians. Palestinians are ones of the primary consumers in Middle East. And in spite of the fact that we are confine to famine, we have decided not to buy them more products.

- Taking into account Hamas is one of the great enemies of the peace process, what are the relations between Hamas and the PNA like?

- We cannot say that Hamas is one of them. There is a wing from Hamas which is prepared to negotiate with Israel.

- How is Jerusalem’s status dispute going to be solved?

- We are waiting for Mr. Netanyahu to raise the freezing of Oslo accords and give place to the fulfillment of the third part of those accords, where the Jerusalem and settlement issue, among other things, must be approached. But undoubtedly, Jerusalem must be the capital city of a sovereing and independent Palestinian State.


When Arafat signed the peace accords with Israel and he started his diplomatic fight in order to conquer an independent Palestinian State, many annalists maintained that the PLO was able to act as a liberation movement, but not to run or govern a nation. Suhail Akel stated that “my government signed a peace agreement with Israel. As soon as our leaders shook their hands, we left our weapons in order to start a new stage of liberation by means of conversation. We want to work in order to help both people achieve a mutual economic, social and cultural development which helps us in the region and settles us in the globalization process into which we are going to get in the third millenium.

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