Montevideo, Uruguay Republic
Wednesday, November 27 of 1991
INTERVIEW WITH THE PLO REPRESENTATIVE IN BUENOS AIRES
Suhail Hani Akel: “Our people already proved that it is prepared for peace” (view)
Hopefully, awaiting the next Peace Conference that will be held on December 4 in Washington, in search of a solution to the Palestinian Israeli issue, the Director of the Palestine Information Office in Buenos Aires, Suhail Hani Akel, announced La Republica that there is only one way for the “pacification” of the agitated region: mutual respect and recognition by all Estates and people. In company of the secretary of Organisation of the Anti-imperialist Tribunal of Our America (ATOA), Argentine chapter, Ricardo Lazcano, Akel has carried out a series of contacts with political and social organisations from the country in Montevideo during this week, expecting to give a prospect of the difficult situation lived in the occupied territories and the possibilities of peace. Our conversation focused on this issue when Suhail Akel visited La Republica staff.
By Jorge Malfatti
Suhail Akel clearly expressed that his 72-hour visit to Uruguay was not official and he said that his sole mission was communicate the message of the Palestinian government with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in particular.
Akel explained to La Republica that the situation is the same, after the Gulf War.
There is –he said- a harsh repression by the Israeli army and police, and Jewish settler, trampling on Palestinians rights in Palestinian occupied lands.
“Fundamentally, our people continue being the victims of the Israeli intolerance”, the PLO representative in Buenos Aires stressed.
Consulted about the result of the latest efforts and contacts held by the American secretary of state, James Baker, before the Peace Conference in Madrid, Akel stressed that “both Baker and the international community have no doubts about the violent repression suffered by the Palestinian people in our homeland. We also know that the USA president George Bush is putting especial emphasis on the Palestinian rights”.
He expressed that there is – at present - need of the Palestinian people’ s return and reconstruction of their homeland in their birthplace, which is Palestine. This means West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem as capital city.
The Palestinian delegate reminded us of the fact that, on November 15 of 1988, the PLO Parliament declared the independence of the Palestine State in Algiers, declaration which was accompanied with all king of rejections towards terrorism and with the recognition of the Estate of Israel in its existence with secure borders. But the Israeli government – said Akel – “quickly expressed its negative reaction by means of Yitzhak Shamir”.
- In your opinion, peace is only attainable by means of mutual respect recognition by all States and people in the region; among the PLO, Arabs and rest parts involved?
- “Evidently this is the sole path that can lead us to a decent peace between Palestinians and Israelis. There can be no decent peace if the national rights of our people are not acknowledged”, Akel pointed out.
He reminded us that there was “another peace accord”, the famous Camp David between Egypt and Israel (1977-1979). This did not bring peace to the region, not to Middle East, not to the Palestinians, not to Israelis. In order for a decent peace to be achieved in the region, the Israelis must definitely recognise the Palestine State, recognise our people’ s national rights and withdraw from our territories”.
In Akel’ s opinion, “as first step, Israel must stop its settlements in our occupied homeland. I want to also remind you that the well-known resolution 181/2 of the United Nations on November 29 of 1947 decreed the partition of the Palestinian land, without Palestinian consent. But this partition mentions 45% for an Arab-Palestinian State and 55% for a Jewish State. Jerusalem was going to be internationalised.
In 1948, when the State of Israel is created, it emerged with the 77% of the Palestinian land. Zionist forces also occupied part of Jerusalem.
In the 1967 war, the total of Palestine was occupied. In 1980, Israel decrees Jerusalem as its capital city. In August same year, resolution number 478 of the United Nations requests Israel not to modify the status of Jerusalem, calling member states not to recognise Jerusalem as capital city of Israel. Until today, according to Israelis, Jerusalem is their capital city and they do not desire to recognise the modification of the status of Jerusalem“, the Palestinian delegate maintain.
He explained that there are UNO resolutions such as 242 of 1967 and 338 of 1973 which request Israel to withdraw from the territories occupied in the 1967 war.
“This territory –he said- is barely a 23 % of the Palestinian territory. The Peace Conference is based on that 23%. We, Palestinian, would agree to build our Palestinian independent State on that 23%. Now, Jewish settlers occupy 53% of those lands and control a 90% of our water. These settlements grow daily; therefore there is no possible peace if goodwill is only shown by one of the parts involved in the conflict and the other part continuously rejects our national rights”.
According to Akel, the PLO and President Yasser Arafat have made great contributions to peace, bur Israel continuous denying Palestinian rights.
- Israel is the sole responsible for the fact that peace has not been achieved in the region, or are there other factors or circumstances which have affected it?
- “Israel is the sole responsible and it has become isolated from its great ally the United States, which is now calling for a withdrawal from the occupied territories”, the Palestinian delegate said.
“On the other hand, we are thankful for the Israeli generation with regard to an autonomy, but we do not want to be an Israeli province. We could accept a limited autonomy, under the supervision of UNO or an international force, but this limited autonomy requires a beginning date and an ending date. And from there, self-determination for our people in our territory”.
Later on, he explained that “our people will achieve their fourth anniversary of Intifada (popular uprising) in a few days. This shows our Palestinian people’ s need of being free and facing up Israelis with no more than stones and sticks, so as to express the Palestinian people’ s desire for freedom even at a very high price. Until now there are 2,000 martyrs, 7,500 cases of abortion due to tear gas and beatings, nearly 60,000 children psychically destroyed or wounded with broken bones, 100,000 Palestinian prisoners in the different Israeli concentration camps, 17,500 cases of houses blown up by the Israeli forces. No doubt, all this, in a certain way, marks the terrible intransigence carried out by Israelis. The history of people does not register a case such as the one unleashed against the Palestinian people”.
Speaking about the consequences of the Gulf War for the Palestinians, Akel pointed out that his people were the most prejudiced.
“Our real stand in the war was totally distorted. The PLO tried to be a mediator between the brotherly Arab countries. We do not presently call for allied forces to destroy Tel Aviv and kill 200.000 Israelis; on the contrary, we simply ask that –once and for all- Israel recognises our right and obeys UNO resolutions, which urge Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories”.
- What can we expect from the next Peace Conference which will take place in Washington next week?
- “We again gave all our hopes to this Conference on December 4th and we try to do our best in order to achieve the conference success, but unfortunately Israel continues referring to the PLO as a terrorist group, it has not changed the names of our Palestine State. Notwithstanding all this, we continue having confidence in the international goodwill. We are going to Washington with our highest predisposition in favour of peace. Our people have already showed themselves ready for peace, in the Madrid Conference, to such a point that one of the highest Israeli officials said: “We can no longer prove the world that Palestinians are bloody bandits”.
Palestinian replevy at the Peace Conference in Madrid
Israel has occupied a 1,000-square-kilometer strip in Southern Lebanon since 1982, keeping the zone under its influence.
The PLO, in the framework of the international legality, calls for Israel’ s withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967 in order to facilitate the reconstruction of the Palestine State, with East Jerusalem as its capital. At the same time, it demands that Israel fulfils with UNO resolutions.
Over 180,000 Jewish settlers have entered the Palestinian occupied territories. Israel refuses to halt settlements in spite of the international indisposition.
The scarce water resources cause great problems. Israel now controls a 90% of water in the occupied territories.
Arabs and Israelis must discuss on nuclear, chemical biological weapons, as well as, on ballistic missiles and demilitarisation of the region.
*West Bank and Gaza Strip
UNO’ s partition of Palestine proposed that this sector of the territory became the Palestine State. Notwithstanding, after 1948, Jordan controlled West Bank and Egypt controlled Gaza Strip. Israel invaded both territories in the 1967 war, in June. They continue being illegally occupied by Israel.
The Holy City became international in 1948. It was divided between Israel and Jordan in 1949 and it was totally occupied by Israel in 1967. Finally, Israelis illegally annexed it in June, 1980. They converted it into their capital city. UNO resolution 478 rejects this measure in August, 1980.
*Syrian Golan Heights
Israel occupied them in 1967 and they were illegally annexed in 1981.