SPECIAL REPORT #31: Is The PA´s Permanent Agreement A Peace Agreement or "Hudna" [Cease Fire]? (NOVEMBER 21, 2000) (PMW-Palestinian Media Watch)
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Israeli Arab Knesset Member Abd-Al Malek Dahamshe was interviewed recently on Palestinian Television. A viewer called in to the studio and commented that, "Our problem with Israel is not a border problem, but on of existence". M.K. Dahamshe responded: "We exaggerate when we say 'peace'... what we are [really] speaking about is 'Hudna'". [Palestinian Television, 1 September 2000]
"Hudna" is an Islamic term whose meaning is a cease fire. Not only did M.K. Dahamsha not disassociate himself from the position opposing the very existence of Israel that was expressed by the caller, but he in effect agreed with the caller by referring to the agreements with Israel not as "Peace" but rather as "Hudna", that is, a cease fire.
This report investigates to what extent this position of Dahamshe reflects the position of the Palestinian Authority. When Palestinian officials speak to their own people, and not in international forums, do they anticipate that an permanent agreement with Israel will be peace agreement bringing closure to the conflict with Israel, or that it is just a "Hudna" - a temporary cease fire?
The research demonstrates a clear and singular world-view within the Palestinian leadership, when they speak among themselves, whether in speeches to the nation and educational lectures, or through educational messages to Palestinian youth and through the new textbooks published by the Palestinian Authority just this month. The clear and consistent message is: Israel has no right to exist, by definition Israel is a colony that stole the land of "Palestine" and evicted its residents. Therefore within the framework of the "justice" that the Palestinians demand, there is no room for Israel in "Palestine". Thus the internal Palestinian lexicon contains many terms and expressions to describe and explain the negotiations in this context, for example: "The permanent agreement is a stage"; "The Oslo accord is just getting our foot in the door; "All the agreements are temporary"; "The Prophet also signed the Hodaibiah agreement..." [an agreement that was signed between the prophet Mohammed and the heretics of Mecca, and that was subsequently breached by Mohammed] where all these are simply part of the process of liberating "Palestine". The common justification given for the very need for a temporary agreement with Israel is, "Because of current balance of power". From the views and positions expressed within the Palestinian Authority it is evident that Dahamshe's statement, that a permanent agreement with Israel is to be viewed as "Hudna", is very much the rule and not the exception.
The following are a few examples where PA leaders have stated this explicitly.
1. Palestinian Authority Minister Shahian: Oslo is just the first step in the destruction of Israel:
"The Palestinian people accepted the Oslo agreements as a first step and not as a permanent arrangement, based on the premise that the war and struggle on the ground [i.e., locally against Israeli territory] is more efficient than a struggle from a distant land... for the Palestinian people will continue the revolution until they achieve the goals of the '65 revolution...". [Al Ayaam, 30 May 2000. P.A. Minister of Supply Abd El Aziz Shahian] [The "'65 Revolution" is the founding of the P.L.O. and the publication of the Palestinian covenant that calls for the destruction of Israel via an armed struggle.]
2. A Palestinian Authority preacher: "All agreements are temporary".
"We the nation of Palestine, our fate from Allah is to be the vanguard in the war against the Jews until the resurrection of the dead, as the Prophet Mohammed said: The resurrection of the dead will not come until you do battle with the Jews and kill them, you on the east side of the river, and they on the west side."
We the Palestinians, are the vanguard in this issue, in this battle, whether we want to or whether we would refuse. All the agreements that made are temporary, until the command shall come from Allah, until the destiny from Allah shall be realized". [Palestinian Televison, 28 July 2000. The Preacher Dr. Ahmed Yousuf Abu Halbiah]
3. Arafat's Deputy: The Palestinian State is just the first stage.
"... At this stage we'll prevail in our struggle [to attain] the goals of the phases [doctrine]. The goal of this phase is the establishment of the independent Palestinian State, with its capital in Jerusalem. When we achieve this, it will be a positive [step] and it will advance us to the next phase via other ways and means..."
'Every Palestinian must know clearly and unequivocally that the independent Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as its capital is not the end of the road'. The [rise of] the Palestinian State is a phase after which another there will be another phase and that is the democratic state in all of Palestine." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, 25 November 1999]
[Othman Abu Arbiah is Arafat's aide for Political Guidance and national affairs, and the Director-General for National Affairs, a senior position in the Palestinian national educational systems]
4. A Palestinian Authority Preacher: Whoever concedes Haifa or Ashkelon is a traitor, a loathsome criminal, whose abode is in Hell.
The prohibition against coming to terms with the very existence of Israel, as a fundamental Palestinian premise and belief, was stressed this past month by the P.A.'s preacher at the Al Akza mosque, an Arafat appointee.:
"The Islamic land of Palestine is one and not divided, There is no difference between Haifa and Nablus, between Lod and Ramallah, between Jerusalem and Nazareth, between Gaza and Ashkelon. The land of Palestine is Waqf land that belongs to Moslems throughout the world and no one has the right to act freely or the right to make concessions or to abandon her. Whoever does this betrays a [trust] and is nothing more than a loathsome criminal whose abode is in Hell!" [Palestinian Television, 8 September 2000. The Preacher of Al Akza Mosque, Sheikh Yousuf Abu Snina]
At first glance, the P.A.'s senior and official preacher appears to define Arafat and the entire ranking echelon of the P.A. as, "traitors.. criminals.. whose abode is in Hell" given that they agreed to the existence of Israel that includes giving up on "Haifa, Lod, Nazareth, and Ashkelon". However, if it is understood and agreed-to internally within the Palestinian world, that the agreements with Israel are just for a "Hudna" (cease-fire), the preacher's words are not aimed at Arafat or his government's ministers. To the contrary, these statements by his own appointee, give Arafat a "Shariatic" (Islamic law) Seal of Approval and testify that Arafat is not guilty of "giving up or abandoning" Palestinian land.
5. The P.A.'s Communication Minister: The Occupation State will cease to exist and the historical Palestine will be restored.
"Our people have hope for the future, that the Occupation State ceases to exist, and that it makes no difference [how great] its power and arrogance...". [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, 18 November 1999. Minister of Communications, Amad Alfalugi]
6. Salim Alwadia, Abu Salem, Supervisor of Political Affairs:
"When we picked up the gun in '65 and the modern Palestinian Revolution began, it had a goal. This goal has not changed and it is the liberation of Palestine." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, 20 January 2000]
The conclusion of the research is that the calming message from the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to their respective people are direct opposites of one another: Israel leaders are saying: The permanent status agreement will be painful, but we must accept it because it will mark the end of the conflict with the Palestinians and the Arab world in general. The Palestinian leaders are saying: The permanent status agreement will be painful, but we must accept it because it is not the end of the conflict. This is but the current phase of the conflict.
The words of M.K. Abd-Al Malek Dahamshe constitute the conceptual basis for the Palestinian Authority's policies:
"We exaggerate when we say 'peace'... what we are [really] speaking about is 'Hudna [Palestinian Television, 1 September 2000]'".
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