INTERVIEW: WEST BANK FATAH GEN. SECY. MARWAN BARGHOUTI
Aaron Lerner Date: 14 November, 1999
IMRA interviewed Marwan Barghouti, General Secretary of Fatah in the West Bank, in English and Hebrew, on 14 November 1999:
IMRA: Danny Rubenstein wrote an article two weeks ago in Ha'aretz that mentioned armed groups within Fatah ' especially in the Ramallah area.
Barghouti: I don't understand what he meant. I read his article in Ha'aretz. I don't think he was right when he talked about the huge quantity of weapons and guns that the organization has. I think you are talking about tens of people here and there who have their guns. In the black market there are guns and the people bought these guns as individuals ' not as an organization. Most of these people belong to the security services.
The absolute majority of them are members of the security services at the same time that they are members of Fatah. Some people who aren't members of the security services and are members of Fatah also have gins.
IMRA: When you say ‘guns' you mean machine Kalashnikovs?
Barghouti: Yes. And also less then that ' pistols.
IMRA: To defend Fatah or just to have them.
Barghouti: It is very difficult to explain this issue for two reasons:
First of all, the new generation were forbidden to have guns during the occupation 30 years ago and during the intafada the only ones who had guns were the enemy of the occupation ' the soldiers who fired at them and killed them. So they were dreaming to have these kinds of guns. So they got them now. This is one of the reasons.
Some of them use the guns in wedding ceremonies etc. And we are trying to control this phenomenon. This is very dangerous ' it is not easy.
IMRA: What role do you see these as having in the struggle against the settlements.
Barghouti: There is no role for these guns in the struggle against the settlements.
Barghouti: Because Fatah, as you know, stopped the fight against the Israelis with weapons.
IMRA: What can be done now in the struggle against settlements.
Barghouti: First of all on the political level in the negotiations the Palestinian political leadership has to make a decision not to continue with the negotiations without a stop in the settlement policy.
IMRA: Before you had rock throwing against settler's cars and fire bombing. Do you see these things continuing as part of the struggle against settlements?
Barghouti: No. I think it is very small. Unfortunately. I am not happy about that. I think that the Palestinians have the right to fight against the settlements. That is my own opinion. Unfortunately the Palestinians don't do that.
There is not enough action.
IMRA: Since Barak has come to power we have had a continuation of construction on Har Homa and other places and the Palestinian street is basically silent. No mass rallies. No significant demonstrations.
Barghouti: Unfortunately, the Palestinians depend on their leadership and I don't believe that is enough. And they depend on their government and they think that the negotiations are going on and that the final status negotiation started and they are always talking to the media all over the world about the need to stop the settlements but if they use violence they will not be understood and the Israeli government will use it to their benefit. So I think that it is a complicated situation.
But I think that, finally, if there are no results in the next month on the political level from the final status negotiations then I think that the situation will change.
IMRA: How do you think it will change?
Barghouti: I think that if the people discover that the confiscation of land and the settlements continue and at the same time thousands of people are training with guns and have the guns etc. I think that they will start to think how to deal with this issue.
IMRA: You mean thousands of Palestinians who are training with guns.
IMRA: Then they will go forward.
Barghouti: I think that this is one of the options. Why not?
IMRA: They announced today that some of the most difficult issues: Jerusalem, settlements and borders, will be among the first issues discussed. Do you see the possibility of any flexibility on the Palestinian side on any of these issues?
Barghouti: Flexibility? What do you mean flexibility. I think that as it said in Hebrew ‘gamarnu' [we are finished]. [the rest of the interview is in Hebrew]. We have done everything we were to do.
IMRA: Accepting the Green Line was enough.
Barghouti: That's right. You know that the Palestinians made their historical compromise then.
IMRA: I noticed that the recent Fatah editorial argued that if Israel asks for everything then the Palestinians should also ask for everything regarding the right of return and I was wondering if this indicated the possibility of some kind of compromise regarding the right of return of the 1948 refugees.
Barghouti: Absolutely not. There is no compromise on Jerusalem, settlements or the right of return.
IMRAL: Maybe there will be a compromise about the right of return ' that they have the right to return to Ramallah but not to Jaffa.
Barghouti: You know that the right to return to Ramallah to the Palestinian state does not mean exercising the right of return. Because there are refugees living now in Ramallah, Nablus and Gaza. Yes or no?
IMRA: You mean people living there who came from Jaffa.
IMRA: So even thought these Palestinians can live in a Palestinian state where they are right now they are still refugees.
Barghouti: One hundred percent. They are refugees. There are refugee camps in Gaza. Seventy percent of the citizens in Gaza are refugees.
IMRA: And you don't see a compromise within which a limited group within the framework of family unification comes in and the rest get some kind of compensation.
Barghouti: No. No. No. I don't think that that is a compromise. If you mean an historical compromise acceptable to the Palestinians and the entire Arab world then we are talking of the complete right of return. How many will return? Look, the Jewish State was established more than fifty years ago and there are still more Jews in New York than in Israel. No one knows how many Palestinians will return but they all have to have the right of return.
IMRA: There are those who say that in the long run ' with the right of return etc. ' that there will in the end be one state between the Jordan and the Sea.
Barghouti: This would be the best compromise. That there be one state. Then there would be no problem with the right of return. Israelis would live in every place and Palestinians live in any place. Why not.
IMRA: I note also that the chief negotiator for the Palestinians also raised the claim for resources that Israel used since 1967. Is this simply an opening demand or a serious demand.
Barghouti: You know that after every occupation the occupier compensates for occupying and using the area. You know that they destroyed the infrastructure. If you look in any village you won't find one road or one school built by the occupation.
IMRA: That is to say that you expect tens of billions of dollars in addition to everything else.
Barghouti: Absolutely. What is this? Do the Israelis want peace without paying the price?
The Palestinians have taken the proper position: recognize the State of Israel within the proper borders ' made the historical compromise. What more can we be expected to do?
IMRA: What are your expectations?
Barghouti: I am optimistic.
IMRA: What do you see regarding the Jews in the Diaspora. There are Israeli Arab MKs who want to do away with the right of return for Jews.
Barghouti: This is an internal Israeli matter. But there is also the right of return for the Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director
IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-9-7411645
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