Santa Fe - Monday, October 18 of 2004
In that territory, each measure of length possesses historical Palestinian roots (view)
Suhail Hani Daher Akel, a Palestine Ambassador in Buenos Aires, was born in the ancient city in Jerusalem, but in 1948, when the State of Israel was created, he became a refugee.
Akel had a long conversation with El Litoral. According to what he related, his experience was the one suffered by the majority of the Palestinian population, which ended up being thrown out from its land due to the change from some people to another people, due to the creation of a State on another one.
This situation made his family go round different countries in the world, always bearing in mind the bitter taste suffered by those people who are uprooted from their roots. “My parents died during their exile period; however, I was able to go back to my country in 1995, after 46 years of exile. It was a dream come true”
-What did you feel when you put your foot on your birthplace? What was Jerusalem like?
-In Jerusalem, It shocked me to see a holy city for the three monotheist religions and Israeli occupation forces going round the streets with their weapons. It shocked me to see Israeli settlers who illegally inhabit the Palestinian territory going to pray to the Wailing Wall with their M16 riffles hanging from their shoulders and it shocked me to see the Israeli flag flying, instead of the Palestinian one.
Nevertheless, I got the satisfaction of proving that my people’s roots have remained firm even though they faced many difficulties and Jerusalem’s sons, just as the sons from many cities in my country, have continued their struggle to face occupation.
“Now we are working to give our Palestinian State a Laic State status where the three religions may live in peace”.
-Before the creation of the State of Israel, which was the situation of the Palestinian territory and its population?
-Palestine is a millenary land. A Canaanite tribe from the Palestinian genealogy founded Jerusalem 3,500 years b.C. Jerico is the oldest organized city in the world, it is over 10,000 years old and it has always counted with a permanent Palestinian presence on it. That is, every measure of length in this land has historical Palestinian Canaanite roots.
As a result of its geographic location, it has always been desired by the colonial and expansionist powers. That is why we faced the Hebrew, Roman, Greek, Persian, Crusade and Turkish-Ottoman occupation. At the beginning of the last century, when we were coming off the Turkish occupation, a British protectorate established in Palestine. It ended up being an occupation.
-Could you describe the process which led to the change from a territory occupied by British people to a territory established for the creation of the State of Israel?
-The British occupation facilitated the entry of European Zionist groups which illegally arrived in Palestine with the intention of creating the Jewish State. Then they started becoming terrorist-armed groups against the Palestinian people and the British occupation. So just before the creation of the State of Israel, they destroyed 389 Palestinian villages and cities
-There was an UN resolution for the creation of the State of Israel.
-Yes, its creation was based on the resolution 181/2 from November 29, 1947. But on May 15, 1948, when it was declared the creation of the State of Israel, Israel violated the percentage established by UN. That is, it was created with 78% of the Palestinian land, while the resolution indicated that it had to use only a 55%. The remaining 45%, including the Jerusalem city within the Palestinian State, was not fulfilled. 23% was absorbed into this new state. With regard to the remaining percentage: what it is known as Cisjordan and West Bank became part of a Transjordan administration and what it is known as Gaza Strip became part of an Egyptian administration. In this way we, Palestinians, became refugees inside our country and outside it. This was one of the great injustices in the last century.
-According to you, Why did it take place?
-Europe needed to have a clear conscience due to the holocaust imposed on European people and Jews. It did not take into account the holocaust which was starting to be imposed on the Palestinian people. Today, after 56 years, the Palestinian people continue being submitted to it. Day after day, there are more deaths, catastrophes and destruction before these people who are longing to achieve their freedom and calm in order to develop their own State.
But all this is strongly controlled by Israel, a great nuclear power which is very aggressive and dangerous. And we were not the ones who have said that, but a famous Israeli scientist who denounced that Israel had a nuclear capacity to blow up the region in just a few seconds. It implies a risk of self-destruction.
-Then Europe could be responsible for the present situation
-Europe is responsible for it, but the international community is also highly responsible for this. In Europe, the two world wars caused a catastrophe which facilitated the advancement of Zionist groups in order to carry out their plans. But we have to take into account that these plans were not developed by those Jews who historically lived among us in Palestine and the region and who are Semites just as we are. These plans were developed in Europe within the frame of a racist and expansionist policy, just as the UN describes Zionism.
-Did you live in harmony with the Jews who inhabited those lands?
-Of course. We do not discriminate against, we did not discriminate against in the past and we are not going to discriminate against in the future. We believe that Jews as a religion are an inseparable part of our Palestinian people, just as Christians and Muslims. Besides, Jews, Christians and Muslims were victims of foreign occupations. That is why I do not like to give a superior state to one of them. Now we are working to give our Palestinian State a Laic State status where the three religions may live in peace.
-Do Palestinians now feel supported by the European Union?
-Europe tries to do its best to find a way-out which definitely facilitates the restitution of the Palestine State. Besides, it made a great contribution to the reconstruction of cities, ministries, universities, schools and hospitals; when we started going back from our long exile in 1994.
But unfortunately, during the last four years, Israel destroyed absolutely everything. It demolished 7,298 houses: around 1,300 of them were demolished at the Israeli Justice Court’s request by means of a decree. Israel went into other people’s territory and it arrived at civilians’ houses with its tanks, its Apache helicopters and its F16 planes.
“Sharon put forward an ethnic cleansing policy against the Palestinian civil population; it besieged our President Yasser Arafat”.
-Is Palestine military equipped?
-We are not at war and we did not declare it. But we are victims of a war Israel has declared on us with its over 30,000 soldiers in our territory and its 430,000 Jewish illegal settlers who carry weapons which are delivered by the Israeli army and which are used to kill Palestinians. We are at a war which we are not able to face because we have no army, air or naval force. Our unique weapons are will, stone, resistance and the wish to be free, because the Palestinian people do not breathe and death and persecution are the only things we experience.
We tried to do our best to achieve a decent peace which may be useful for both people. And we even made painful concessions: a 22-per-cent restitution of our State, because we would not be taking into account the UN partition, which established a 45%. No. We are asking for the restitution of the 22% which was occupied by Israel in the 1967 war. It includes what is known as West Bank or Cisjordan and Gaza Strip, including Eastern Jerusalem, where the ancient city is. This is also the reclaim of the UN and the International Court of Justice. That is, we want them to return 6,212km out of the 27,009km of ancient Palestine.
With Sharon’s policy, the hopes we had established in the Oslo Agreement failed. In 1993 we signed it with our peace partner Yitzhak Rabin –who was unfortunately killed by an Israeli terrorist. Furthermore, Sharon put in motion an ethnic cleansing policy against the Palestinian civil population, it besieged our President Yasser Arafat who was democratically elected. Since 2001, Arafat’s presidency has been besieged and destroyed, and Arafat has faced a series of killing attempts.
-Israel maintains that with the wall construction it tries to defend itself from the Palestinian attacks. What do you think of it?
-If Israel wants to live fenced, it has the right to do so. But that wall must be located in the borderline on the Israeli side. And it is located around 25km and 30km within the Palestinian territory, divining cities, villages and families. And on top of everything, Israel cites that it has built it for its security.
UN took part in the conflict in order to stop the wall construction, destroy what has been built and pay Palestinians compensation. Argentine voted in favour of it. However, Israel ignored it. This decision forced the UN to raise this issue to the International Court of Justice. With 14 votes in favour and 1 against (United States), it declared the wall illegal and it stated that the Palestinian people have to get compensation. Then the UN called for a new round of conversations to deal with the subject and it urged the occupant power to fulfil the resolution. By means of an advisor, Sharon immediately answered that this was part of the dustbin of history, proving he is in the margin of the international laws. Palestine has become a great concentration camp. Israel is a country which has passed torture against Palestinians and it violates Geneva agreements.
“We do not agree with violence or terrorism and we have conclusively proven it. But when Israel states that its is fighting against terrorism, I wonder what terrorism we are talking about. Some people are trying to mistake terrorism for Palestinian resistance. We are resisting occupation, we are not the ones who are occupying Israel. Before this injustice, which could be the answer? Of course, we do not agree with the fact that a Palestinian commits suicide within Israeli territory, but we have to understand why he has taken such a decision. Did some one convince him he was going to go to Paradise? No. He made such a decision because his life had no sense, no future. His family and neighbors were killed, his house was demolished and dignity was the only thing he possessed. And he exploded himself on the basis of that dignity. However, we are opposed to it because we do not want to loose our sons and we do not want Israeli sons to die. We want to live with them as neighbours”.
“Israel cannot speak of terrorism, because it established itself on the basis of terrorism. There is a great difference between terrorism and resistance. In the same way that you resisted the English invasions and then you fought against the Spanish colonialism. And in the same way that Europe resisted the Nazi regime. But the people are always the ones who triumph and I am sure that the Palestinian people are going to achieve peace with dignity”.
“We continue regarding the Israeli people as our main partner, we believe that Israel has to make a decision in order to put an end to Sharon’s government and to get into power, by means of a democratic way, men who are really committed to peace on the basis of intellectual honesty and dignity of both people. We want to educate our sons in peace, next to their sons”.
“The international community, beyond diplomatic declarations, should change into the diplomacy of action, so that Blue Helmets can go into Palestinian territory. But Israel is opposed to it and the Security Council has not been able to pass any resolution because the United States always vetoes it. The United States is Sharon’s umbrella”.