Buenos Aires, December 7, 1993
The PLO decides on dialogue rather than violence (view)
By Suhail Hani
Representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Argentina
This treaty of peace signed last September 13th between Israel and the PLO generated controversies even in Palestinians. In an exclusive report published by this newspaper, on November 1st, Mr. Edward Said – a prestigious Palestinian intellectual, who lives in the United States – criticized the terms of the accord and objected to the leadership of the PLO, president Yasser Arafat.
A span of forty five years of history is a very short time, but forty five years of forced occupation is too much time. International organizations resolved very little with their resolutions and much less during the Arab-Israeli wars, only leaving Israel takes advantage of the situation and expands. Israelis denied our own national and human rights, they converted us into victims, without taking into account their own grief. This, however, does not give us any right to commit the same sins.
Here we face an irrefutable reality; during various decades another people, the Israeli people, comprising 3.5 million human beings. Were we victims of an injustice? Should we commit the same injustice?
With the signing of the accord on last September13th, another option offered answers to many questions. To our people there were left only two alternatives: continued violence or the road to peace. This gesture would led us to a compromise of sharing a common life, rather than death and violence. In its Independence Declaration (15/11/88), it was reflected the recognition and right to exist of Israel. It was during this same opportunity that the Palestinian National Council (PNC) democratically elected Yasser Arafat as President of the Palestine State. Unfortunately and with a typical attitude, Israel rejected the proposal, our rights and those of the PLO.
However, the “Intifada” was responsible for diluting the Israeli arrogance, allowing them to think , after 24 months and 10 sessions of Peace Conference, with negative results, that only recognizing the PLO the Palestinian-Israeli conflict could be defused.
Logically, this new attitude caught everybody by surprise, especially those who wished us locked to death...to the very end. From comfortables positions and even from thousand kilometers away, just as if they were watching or participating at a video game, they were exhorting to continue the confrontations, accusing the PLO of excesses of power and President Arafat of traitor to the cause, obviously forgetting – or due to temporary political amnesia- that the determination of participating at the Peace Conference and negotiating with the Israeli delegation were resolutions adopted by general consensus and democratically at its session of “the Martyrs of Jerusalem”, from September 26th to September 28th of 1991.
It is possible that this accord may contain errors, but it does also contain its virtues. For the first time the Israeli army will demilitarize our country. For the first time commissions will be set up to treat the question of the Palestinian refugees and their right to return to their homeland.
In the same way, another Palestinian-Israeli commission will be set up to study the water problem, development and the future of Jerusalem. Such commission will be presided by Faisal Al Husseini and Moshe Shalal. The immediate release of 13,000 Palestinian prisoners, a bank system issuing our money, a flag and a National Hymn are also under consideration.
For the first time, the United States is not sounding its war drums in the region and it is calling for an international conference to finance the economic reconstruction of Palestine. Europe and Japan have added their economic help to eradicate misery and hunger which developed under the Israeli occupation.
During a process of five years – time of autonomy – violence will have to give way to human dignity, it will have to take place the application of the UN resolutions 242 and 338, as well as, the total withdrawal of Israeli occupation forces in order to establish the independence of the Palestine State with East Jerusalem as capital city.
We know there are many open wounds on both sides and the peace price is expensive. Since the signing in Washington, 30 Palestinians have been killed and there are hundreds of injured people. Israelis still keep their “fingers on the trigger”, according to recent declarations by Premier Rabin; and what is worst, a strong repression has taken place in the last few hours. But one time more, the effort depends on our people. The final consolidation of the Israeli occupation, as well as, the achievement of our objectives of freedom depend on our capacity.
Jerico is the oldest Palestinian City; according to the millenary story, the sound of some horns put down its walls and its people were killed. Today, that sound sounded again in Jerico in order to put down the occupation wall, giving place to freedom.
What Mr. Edward Said, said
* “Arafat has converted himself into Israel’s partner so that the PLO can establish a government of occupation able to quash any attempt of self-determination”.
* “Palestinian leaders being incompetent, made many mistakes. Arafat signed the final surrender”.
* “The question is why did the PLO discard all previous peace proposals and accepted this one, which was the weakest”.
* “We never had an election and no one elected Arafat”.
* “Israel will continue to control the land, waters, air, frontiers, internal security and Jewish enclaves in the occupied zones and Jerusalem”.