The long-standing tensions between Palestinian and Israeli leaders flared up once again into full scale violence in the fall of 2000. Tensions in the region were already high as a result of the failed Camp David summit negotiations in July, and these tensions were further inflamed when Ariel Sharon, then a candidate for Israel’s prime minister, entered the Temple Mount on September 28 with 1,000 guards. The Temple Mount, an area sacred to Jews, is located on the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, an area sacred to Muslims. Palestinian protestors, interpreting Sharon’s speech at the Temple Mount as an act of provocation surrounded the area and clashed with Israeli police. The militant group Hamas called for an Intifada, or armed uprising, against Israeli occupation of the region. Riots, suicide bombings and direct confrontation between Israeli and Palestinian forces characterized the conflict that would go on for nearly five years. The violence of the intifada gradually faded from 2004-2005, although tensions between the two sides continue to threaten the tenuous peace. The death of Palestinian leader Yaser Arafat in 2004 slowed the momentum of the movement, and Israel’s agreements to withdraw some forces from the Gaza strip and release some Palestinian prisoners led Palestinian president Abbas to call for an official end to the intifada in 2005.
Palestinian protestors clash with Israeli police outside the Al-Aqsa mosque, September 28, 2000
Interview with Hamas founder Shaykh Yasin, 10 September 2000
Yasin’s speech to Islamist organized rally, 30 September 2000
Hamas statement, 30 September 2000
Hamas statement, 1 October 2000
Communique of Israeli Cabinet, 2 October 2000
Hamas statement, 3 October 2000
Interview with Hamas spiritual leader Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, 4 October 2000
Hamas statement, 7 October 2000
Statement by Prime Minister Ehud Barak, 7 October 2000
Interview with Prime Minister Ehud Barak on CBS News “Face the Nation,” 8 October 2000
Communique of Israeli Cabinet, 10 October 2000
Briefing by Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Shlomo-Ben Ami, 10 October 2000
Interview with Hamas leader Ahmad Yasin, 11 October 2000
Interview with Hamas political leader Mahmud al-Zahhar, 12 October 2000
Hamas statement, 12 October 2000
Barak’s statement on military action in Ramallah and Gaza, 12 October 2000
Interview with Hamas leader Ahmad Yasin, 13 October 2000
Hamas statement, 15 October 2000
PM Barak’s interview with Wolf Blitzer, 15 October 2000
Interview with Prime Minister Ehud Barak on ABC News: This Week, 15 October 2000
Interview with head of Hamas Political Bureau Khalid Mish’al, 17 October 2000
Interview with Hamas political leader Isma’il Abu-Shanab, 20 October 2000
Interview with Hamas founder Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, 22 October 2000
Statement by Hamas official spokesman Ibrahim Ghawshah, 23 October 2000
Hamas statement, 26 October 2000
Interview with Hamas Political Bureau Member Mus Abu Arzuq, 28 October 2000
Address by Prime Minister Ehud Barak on the Fifth Anniversary of the Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, 8 November 2000
Interview with Hamas founder Shaykh Yasin, 10 September 2000 Top
Source: BBC Monitoring Middle East, “Hamas founder Shaykh Yasin says Palestinians’ only option jihad, resistance,” 11 September 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic, 25 September 2012.
Text of telephone interview with Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, founder of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, by presenter Jamal Rayyan in the studio, broadcast live by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 10th September
Rayyan Shaykh Yasin, some people say that President Arafat did well to postpone the proclamation of a Palestinian state because he avoided possible confrontations with the Israelis, as well as international isolation. What do you say about this?
Yasin In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. The postponement of the state or the proclamation of the state is not the problem. The issue is the liberation of the Palestinian territory, the establishment of Palestinian sovereignty, and the return of the Palestinian people to their homeland. words indistinct We do not want to establish a state that has no value or a state that has relinquished the Palestinian people’s rights and future.
Q Shaykh Ahmad Yasin: The statement made by Ben-Ami is clear. He said the Jews came to Jerusalem and will not leave it. In your opinion, what is the best solution to the issue of Jerusalem, particularly since Palestinian and Israeli negotiators have so far failed to find a solution to the issue of Jerusalem? What is the solution in your opinion, as the founder of the Islamic movement, Hamas?
A First, I would like to affirm that Israelis do not want peace; they want to control Palestinian territory and people, as well as the holy places. I would like to tell the Israelis this is a bad and incorrect view. Israelis only understand force and confrontation. This was proven in southern Lebanon. They rejected all international resolutions, but they withdrew their forces suddenly under the blows of resistance.
Therefore, the only option for the Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nation is resistance, fighting and jihad for the sake of Jerusalem and Palestine, all of Palestine, God willing.
Q It has been said that the talks with the Israelis will resume tomorrow. Will Hamas have any role to play in these talks, particularly since time is running out for all the sides, particularly for the Americans?
A We have nothing to do with the talks. We rejected this from the beginning because we are aware that the negotiating table cannot achieve our people’s aspirations and objectives. The only option for the Palestinian people – the option that proved to be the right one throughout history, is fighting. It is the only weapon that restores rights. The Palestinian people, who have been displaced from their homeland for 50 years, are now given small parts of the Palestinian territory without any sovereignty. Where is the peace about which they have been talking? It is subservience to US and Israeli pressure to liquidate the Palestine question and Palestinian rights, as well as to waste Jerusalem and the refugees’ right to repatriation. The refugees lived their life hoping that one day they will return to Palestine. Therefore, the only option before our people is resistance, fighting, and extricating their rights. Rights cannot be given by the enemy, but are restored through resistance, God willing.
Rayyan Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, founder of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, in Gaza. Thank you.
Yasin’s speech to Islamist organized rally, 30 September 2000 Top
Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, “Hamas leader addresses Islamist-organized rally in Jordan camp by phone linke,” 2 October 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic, 25 September 2012.
Text of report by pro-Hamas Palestinian Information Centre web site on 30th September
Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, spiritual leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, yesterday vowed not to lay down arms in the confrontation against Israel and pledged to pursue struggle to liberate all the Palestinian territories.
This came in a speech via telephone from Gaza during a speech rally on Jerusalem organized by the Muslim Brotherhood in Al-Wihdat refugee camp in Amman .
Shaykh Yasin said in his speech: The restoration of our rights and realization of peace will not be achieved except through resistance, not through negotiations. We will continue to march along the path of either victory or martyrdom.
Yasin stressed: The Palestinian people cannot tolerate the relinquishment of any part of Jerusalem or any inch of Palestine nor can they accept resettlement in lieu of their right to repatriation to the their homeland, Palestine.
On their part, the leaders of the Jordanian Islamic movement, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Action Front, denounced any possible concessions by the Palestinian National Authority on the Palestinian rights.
During the speech rally, which was attended by some 3,000 people, demonstrators set the Israeli and US flags ablaze and chanted anti-Israeli slogans.
Hamas statement, 30 September 2000 Top
Source: BBC Monitoring Middle East, “Hamas calls on Palestinians to observe strike, three days of mourning,” 20 September 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic, 25 September 2012.
Text of statement by the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas; as reported by Hamas web site on 30th September
In protest of the heinous Zionist crime against the defenceless sons of our people in the courtyards of the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, calls on the masses of our Palestinian people to stage a comprehensive strike tomorrow, Saturday, and to confront the enemy soldiers and herds of settlers in order to confirm our people’s rejection of the hostile Zionist ambitions and of the relinquishment of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
We also call on the masses of our mujahid Palestinian people to observe a three-day mourning period over the loss of martyrs in Al-Aqsa massacre.
Signed The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, Palestine
Dated Friday, 2nd Rajab 1421 AH, corresponding to 29th September 2000
Hamas statement, 1 October 2000 Top
Source: BBC Monitoring Middle East, “Hamas calls for continuation of ‘intifadah’; calls on PNA not to stop it,” 3 October 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic, 25 September 2012.
Text of report by Hamas web site on 1st October
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
This is an announcement to the people.
We are ready to sacrifice our lives and blood for the sake of Al-Aqsa.
Let the Al-Aqsa intifadah and the clashes continue and let us turn the earth into flames and a volcano under the feet of the usurpers.
O our militant Palestinian people: If ye suffer hardships, they are suffering similar hardships; but ye have hope from God, while they have none. [Koranic verses] These are the blessed days, the days of jihad and martyrdom and the days of God and the jihad for the sake of God and the days for avenging Jerusalem and the holy places and Al-Aqsa and championing the dignity of the Arab and Islamic nation. The precious Palestinian blood these days is being heavily shed for the sake of Al-Aqsa Mosque. O our people, remain steadfast once again in these days for you are the people who always offer sacrifices and martyrs and are constantly generous and you are the people who have pride and dignity and forbearance and steadfastness. O our people, we exalt and admire you for your jihad and steadfastness and your intifadah for the sake of Al-Aqsa and the holy places and for your strong stand in the face of Zionist tyranny and aggression. We also exalt and admire the pure martyrs and the hundreds of wounded whose pure blood has stained the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the blessed soil of Palestine.
O our steadfast Palestinian people: The intifadah of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque will continue and persist and escalate to prove to the whole world that our people have not become tired or weakened and will not surrender to humiliation, oppression and occupation. This intifadah will also prove that our people have been and will continue to be able to offer resistance and sacrifices, confront the barbarism of the Jewish occupiers and their covetous ambitions and oppression, and defend Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Zionist occupation army confronted our unarmed masses with tens of thousands of its panicked soldiers and used live ammunition and internationally banned bullets and armoured vehicles and ‘LAU’ missiles and perpetrated heinous war crimes against the protesters from our people. All of this confirms the truth about the imaginary peace with this enemy and that coexistence between the victim and the gladiator is merely a big lie because this criminal enemy only understands the language of brute force, oppression, terrorism and the desecration of the holy places. This enemy wants our people to completely capitulate to its will and conditions but our people’s blood that has been shed everywhere in our usurped land reveals the truth about this rancorous enemy no matter how much the proponents of peace and settlement tried to mislead our people and nation.
This blessed intifadah is a strong response to the Baraq government’s crime of conspiring with Sharon and his followers against the Al-Aqsa Mosque and allowing him to walk around its courtyards protected by thousands of soldiers and military reinforcements. We did not see such military reinforcements even when the Al-Aqsa Mosque was occupied for the first time. This intifadah is also in response to the enemy’s positions and announcement of insisting on sovereignty over Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque and to the statements by this entity’s leaders about the establishment of their alleged temple in Al-Aqsa Mosque. This intifadah and this blood is a strong message that we will scorch the earth under the feet of the usurper and that infringement on and desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque is prohibited area. Our people, young and old, men and women, and old people and children will resist it and blood will be shed and martyrs will fall.
Our militant Palestinian people, our Arab and Islamic nation: We in the Islamic Resistance Movement [HAMAS] call for the following:
First: On the domestic level:
1. Let tomorrow Monday, 2nd October 2000, be a day of a comprehensive general strike and a day for intensive popular action on the anniversary of Salah-al-Din’s liberation of Jerusalem. We also call on the masses of our militant people to continue with the Al-Aqsa intifadah and to escalate the clashes with the enemy soldiers and hordes of settlers and confront them in every city and village and every refugee camp, district and street of our blessed Palestinian land. This is in order to protest the heinous massacres perpetrated against our people and the desecration of Al-Haram Al-Sharif [Jerusalem sanctuary enclosing the Al-Aqsa Mosque] by the Jews and to emphasize our people’s sovereignty over Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
2. We call on our people to go to Al-Aqsa Mosque and stage a sit-in round the clock to guard it and defend it. We also call on the students and pupils to organize continuous group visits to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
3. We call on the university students and student bodies and school students to stage massive demonstrations everywhere as an expression of our people’s anger and to champion the Al-Aqsa Mosque and holy places.
4. We call for resorting to the use of the tools of the blessed intifadah in terms of stones, catapults and Molotov cocktails and hand-to-hand combat and let us turn our land into the battlefields of resistance, heroism and jihad.
5. We call on our people to demonstrate solidarity with the families of martyrs and to go to the homes of their families to offer them congratulations on the martyrdom of their sons. We also call them to visit the wounded and support them and offer them all the assistance and care they may need.
6. We call on the Palestinian [National] Authority [PNA] to immediately withdraw from the negotiations with the criminal enemy and halt all forms of security coordination with it.
7. We call on the PNA not to try and halt the Al-Aqsa intifadah and calm our angry masses as it did after the tunnel uprising. We also call on it to stand in unison with the masses of our people and stand alongside them in facing up to the aggression and to allow the people to express their positions, defend the holy places and respond to the Jewish aggression.
8. We call on the PNA to release all the strugglers detained in its prisons, foremost of whom are the strugglers Mahmud Abu-Hannud and Muhammad al-Dayf, so that they may stand in their proper place alongside the strugglers facing and confronting the enemy.
9. We proudly salute the heroic Palestinian soldier who opened fire on the enemy soldiers and we condemn the PNA’s decision to put him on trial, especially at a time when the leaders and soldiers of the occupying entity are committing massacres against our unarmed people.
10. We salute our people in the part of Palestine occupied in 1948. We salute their blessed stand alongside their kinfolk and their defence of Al-Aqsa and the activities they have staged to express our people’s adherence to their blessed mosque and legitimate rights.
Second: On the Arab and Islamic level:
1. We appeal to the masses of our Arab and Islamic nation to initiate moves to champion the Al-Aqsa Mosque and demonstrate solidarity with our people and express their anger at the enemy’s measures and massacres and its desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque. We call on them to stage demonstrations, rallies and activities to support our people and stand alongside them. This is in order to make the whole world realize that the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque belongs to more than one billion Muslims and that going anywhere near it or infringing on it is a red line and a declaration of war against our nation and its religion and dignity.
2. We call on the Arab regimes, which have established any type of relations and normalization with the criminal enemy, to stop dealing with the enemy and to suspend all forms of normalization with it and expel its ambassadors and representatives.
3. We call on the Arab and Islamic peoples and governments to extend every kind of material, moral and media support for our people and to support their steadfastness and resistance and to support the strugglers.
Let the blessed Al-Aqsa intifada continue and let the Palestinian blood continue to be copiously shed in defence of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque and let us turn our blessed land into a volcano and flames that scorch the usurpers.
Signed: The Islamic Resistance Movement [HAMAS], Palestine.
Dated: Sunday, 4th Rajab 1421 Hegira, corresponding to 1st October 2000.
Communique of Israeli Cabinet, 2 October 2000 Top
Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Cabinet Communique 02-Oct-2000.” Accessed from www.mfa.gov.il
Jerusalem, 2 October 2000
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
The Government of Israel expresses its regret for all the casualties. The Government will act vigorously and use all means at its disposal to preserve law and order throughout the country. It gives its full backing to the Israel Police in their activities to enforce the law and ensure public order.
The Government believes that the vast majority of the Israeli Arab population strives for integration and involvement in Israeli society and peaceful coexistence, and that it is unfortunate that extreme elements within this sector are attempting to incite towards extremism. We call on this sector to show restraint. A special cabinet meeting will be convened to discuss approval of a long-term annual program to benefit the Arab sector, including comprehensive discussion regarding the problems and plight of the Arab and Bedouin sectors in Israel.
The Government calls upon the Palestinian Authority and its leadership to take unequivocal measures to put an end to the riots and violations of public order. We regret the fact that Palestinians were injured as a result of the need to respond to the conduct of the Palestinian Authority and its policemen. The Government holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for the escalation of violence and the riots.
The Government fully backs the IDF and the security forces, its commanders and soldiers for their conduct, and commends them on their restraint, resoluteness and judgement in this complex situation.
The government will continue its efforts to reach a settlement with our Palestinian neighbors. We are currently in the midst of a very sensitive stage in the peace process. Those who believe that violence is an effective tool in the negotiations are mistaken. Violence cannot replace those difficult decisions without which there will be no agreement.
Hamas statement, 3 October 2000 Top
Source: BBC Monitoring Middle East, “Hamas calls for ‘escalation on 6 October,” 3 October 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic, 25 September 2012.
The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas has called on Palestinians intensify their demonstrations on Friday 6th October. A statement on Hamas’s web site proposed “that Friday 6th October, be observed as a day of escalation and qualitative confrontation. We propose that on that day massive demonstrations set off from all of the Palestinian mosques as an expression of overwhelming Palestinian anger over the massacres committed by the Zionists.” Hamas also denied the authenticity of a statement calling for the resignation of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. The following is the text of the statement, as published by Hamas web site on 3rd October:
In the name of God, the most Gracious, the most Merciful
“This is notification for the people” web site’s headline
The sixth day of the intifadah of Al-Aqsa
Statement No five
“Think not of those who are slain in God’s way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord Koranic verse .”
Jihad is our chosen path, death in God’s cause our most cherished ambition.
The intifadah of the blessed Al-Aqsa unites the ranks of our people in the face of aggression.
We shall carry on the intifadah and resistance and we shall torch the ground under the feet of the occupiers.
Our mujahid and heroic people of Palestine:
Our glorious Arab and Muslim nation:
The Zionist massacres continue unabated and the criminal Nazi army of occupation continues to wage an all-out war against our defenceless people deploying all manner of weapons – tanks, helicopter gunships, rockets, automatic rifles, and bombs. They are out to terrorize and force our people with the use of firearms into resigning themselves to the continuation of the Zionist occupation of Jerusalem and Jewish sovereignty over Al-Aqsa Mosque in preparation for building their presumed temple in its place.
The hideous Jewish/Zionist crimes are best summed up by the image of Muhammad Jamal al-Durrah, a martyr child killed in cold blood by enemy fire. They did not bother to take mercy on his childhood and innocence. It was a horrific scene that has moved the whole world.
In the meantime, our proud people continue to faced down the army of occupation and the government of a criminal, Ehud Baraq, in addition to the Jewish settler herds.
Our people continue to defend our land and holy shrines, Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa, our faith, and Arab and Muslim dignity.
Our heroic people are proving, as they have always done, that they are ready to put their lives on the line and engage in jihad.
Ours are a people of pious martyrs whose preparedness to sacrifice knows no limits.
The intifadah of Al-Aqsa, which has erupted throughout our occupied Palestinian land, has, by dint of blood, unified our people in the West Bank and the Gaza strip and Jerusalem with their brethren in the Palestinian land that has been under occupation since 1948. The intifadah of Al-Aqsa has thus far claimed more than 50 martyrs and 1,500 wounded.
The battleground has unified all of the factions and forces of our people across the political spectrum and from all walks of life. All of them have joined forces in the intifadah of the blessed Al-Aqsa, being pitted against a shared enemy, having the same destiny, and their blood being spilled in the same cause.
Our Palestinian people, our Arab and Muslim nation:
As the intifadah of Al-Aqsa Mosque enters its sixth day, we in Hamas feel the need to make the following points:
First, on the domestic Palestinian front:
1 – The Islamic Resistance Movement underlines the unity of the Palestinian people as they keep up their confrontations with and resistance to the Zionist enemy through the intifadah of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque. This is in response to the hideous massacres perpetrated by the enemy on the compound of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and to the other outrages that it continues to carry out in every village and city of occupied Palestine, including the part that has been under occupation since 1948.
The movement applauds all our pious martyrs and brave wounded across the sacred land. We also applaud their families and relatives and emphasize that the Movement is on their side.
2 – A statement demanding that the head of the Palestinian National Authority Arafat should step down reflects neither the stand nor the policy of our movement. Hamas would like to make the point that it is working on behalf of delivering our land, our Jerusalem, and our Al-Aqsa Mosque, hand in hand with all of the constituent elements of our people in the context of a common effort. This is for the sake of the liberation of our land from a usurper enemy and in the cause of the return of our people to their land.
3 – We call on the masses in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, and also those in the parts of Palestine that has been under occupation since 1948, and in every city and village and in every refugee camp and neighbourhood and street to keep the confrontations against the Zionist enemy going and even to escalate them.
We urge them to stand up to the Jewish settlers and to defend and watch over Al-Aqsa Mosque with their souls and blood and to exert themselves to frustrate any effort to kill or to stop this intifadah in its tracks.
4 – We demand that the Palestinian Authority immediately set free all of the political detainees and the mujahidin that it holds in its prisons, above all Dr Abd-al-Aziz al-Rantisi, Dr Ibrahim al-Maqadimah, Shaykh Jamal Mansur, Shaykh Muhammad Jamal al-Natshah, and the mujahid Mahmud Abu-Hannud and the mujahid Muhammad al-Dayf.
5 – Once again we applaud our heroic people in the part of Palestine that has been under occupation since 1948 for their steadfastness and their sacrifices and for their presenting a solid front against the Jewish plots against Al-Aqsa Mosque. We applaud them for the martyrs and the wounded that they have offered in this cause.
6 – We propose that the third, fourth, and fifth days of this month – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – be consecrated as days of escalation and all-round confrontations with the enemy soldiers and the settler herds.
7 – In response to the call issued by religious scholars of the ummah and Islamic movement leaders and leading intellectuals who have declared their solidarity with our people, we propose that Friday 6th October, be observed as a day of escalation and qualitative confrontation. We propose that on that day massive demonstrations set off from all of the Palestinian mosques as an expression of overwhelming Palestinian anger over the massacres committed by the Zionists. We also suggest that all of the speakers who deliver the Friday sermons to focus on Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque and to underline the duty of our people and our nation towards them.
8 – Hamas announces that it is going to do its duty by all of the families of the martyrs who have fallen in Al-Aqsa intifadah. The Movement will look after them and see to their well being as an expression of our people’s mutual solidarity and as an act of fidelity to our martyrs’ blood. This is so we look after their families and children and dependants who have survived them.
Second, on the Arab and Islamic front:
1 – We appeal to our Arab and Muslim nation to intensify their action on behalf of rallying to the cause of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa and to show solidarity with our people who are holding fast on their land. We call on the masses in all of the Arab and world capitals to demonstrate their outrage at the Zionist massacres and to emphasize the adherence of our nation to Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa and their willingness to defend their holy shrines.
2 – We call on Arab and Muslim leaders to do their duty and shoulder their responsibility towards Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as towards our people who are standing their ground. We call on them to extend moral and material support to bolster the steadfastness of our people.
Arab and Muslim leaders are called upon to allow their masses the freedom to give public expression to their stands and to rally to the support of their brethren in Palestine.
We also urge the Arab states that have set up relations with our criminal enemy to sever these ties and to expel the ambassadors and representatives of this criminal entity that defile Arab land.
3 -The Islamic Resistance Movement applauds our fellow Arabs and Muslims who have turned out in massive demonstrations to dramatize their support for the cause of Al-Aqsa Mosque, in particular our people and brethren in Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, and Syria. We also recognize such action by Arab and Muslim communities in the United Kingdom and in the United States and in Europe and would love to see more of the same.
4 – Hamas appeals to Arab and Muslim masses to join in the intifadah of Al-Aqsa and to defend Jerusalem and the holy shrines and to share in the honour of jihad by making financial donations to our people and their duly authenticated charities.
“Go ye forth, whether equipped lightly or heavily and strive and struggle with your goods and your persons in the cause of God Koranic verse .”
Long live the blessed intifadah of Al-Aqsa
Glory and immortality to our pious martyrs
God is Great and victory to our people of mujahidin
signed The Islamic Resistance Movement
Hamas – Palestine
3rd October 2000
Interview with Hamas spiritual leader Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, 4 October 2000 Top
Source: BBC Monitoring Middle East, “Hamas leader Yasin calls for Arafat to end negotiations,” 4 October 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic, 25 September 2012.
Text of interview with Hamas spiritual leader Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, by Astrid Frefel, in Gaza; published by Austrian newspaper ‘Der Standard’ on 4th October
Frefel Shaykh Yasin, are we witnessing a new Intifadah?
Yasin If people are suppressed and suffer, it is only natural for them to defend themselves. They have to pay the price for that. Yet the Palestinians are supporting us for the first time within the Green Line (in Israel – the editors) and are fighting on our side. Violence is escalating because the Israelis always want to be superior to us. If we throw stones, they fire shots. If we use guns, they use missiles.
Q What role does your Hamas movement play at present?
A We are ready to put up resistance and will stick to this position.
Q Why has violence erupted so fiercely this time?
A There are two reasons. One is ideological, the other religious. No Muslim in the world would accept the provocation by Israeli right-wing Likud leader Ariel Sharon, who visited the Temple Mount.
The second reason is the fact that the peace process has failed. The Palestinian people did not profit from it at all.
Q Does this mean that President Yasir Arafat’s policy has failed?
A The Palestinians have achieved something but not what they wanted and need. They have been granted autonomy. But what does autonomy mean? We are living here but we do not own the country. The owner controls everything. We still have 5 million refugees. We still have Jewish settlements that occupy 50 per cent of the Palestinian territory. Jerusalem continues to be under Israeli control. We have no sovereignty over our land and our water.
The Israelis control our borders and access to the Gaza Strip. So, I always say that I am living in a big prison. What we received is nothing compared to what we lost.
Q What advice would you give Arafat today? Should he refuse to continue negotiations with Israel?
A In fact, I have already called on him to break off negotiations.
Q Does this mean that the time for new suicide attacks and for violence has come – a strategy that Hezbollah used successfully in Lebanon?
A We are keeping all options open. We cannot simply stand by and watch how dozens of people are killed and hundreds wounded. All of them are civilians.
Q What would be the right time for proclaiming an independent state?
A There is no special timing. What I want to achieve is substance: liberation, sovereignty, and the lifting of the occupation. Then we will automatically have our own state.
Q There are Palestinians who believe that one should now mainly concentrate on the process of creating democratic institutions, and that elections should be held at all levels. Would Hamas participate in such elections and behave like a political party?
A This is not important to me now. The liberation of our country is more important than anything else.
Q What are you telling your children and grandchildren? What do you think their future will be like?
A The foreseeable future will be very, very tough. We will pay a very high price.
Yet in the more distant future, our whole country and all our holy sites will be free, and we will establish our own state in the whole of Palestine. This is what I am telling my grandchildren.
Q Will Israel no longer exist at that point?
A An injustice cannot last forever.
Hamas statement, 7 October 2000 Top
Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, “Hamas statement urges escalation of ‘Al-Aqsa Intifadah’, sets dates for action,” 7 October 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic, 25 September 2012.
Text of Hamas statement dated 7th October 2000 as published that day by Hamas web site
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
The blessed Al-Aqsa intifadah.
Statement No 7 to our people.
Our martyrs’ blood raises the Palestinian flag over the Holy Dome of the Rock.
Our mujahid Palestinian people:
This is an unprecedented day of heroism, sacrifice, martyrdom, and bravery. This day is yours, the day of anger on which you have proved your ability to be a custodian and guard of Al-Aqsa Mosque. You have raised the flag of Palestine over the Dome of the Rock by offering your blood, and you are confronting, with bare chests, criminal Baraq, who kills our people and insists on Judaizing Jerusalem and seizing Al-Aqsa Mosque.
You are not alone, our people, in the battle over Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque. The entire nation stands beside you and yearns for the day of jihad to liberate Palestine and save Al-Aqsa Mosque. Look! The nation is revealing its genuine face through these surging marches in all the Arab and Islamic capitals and by Arab communities abroad.
Our mujahid people: Look! The Al-Aqsa Mosque is uniting our people and nation, the intifadah and resistance are bringing us close together, and all the humiliating allegations of peace with the occupying enemy are falling down. Our people have stressed that there is no room for retreat, and we warn against attempts to ignore the Al-Aqsa intifadah, to quell it, or to breathe new life into the dead peace process. This criminal enemy will only respond to the logic of force and resistance, and any attempt to make bargains over the blood of our martyrs will only lead to further Zionist arrogance, the loss of rights, the Judaization of Jerusalem, and the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque by the Zionist Jews.
Our Palestinian people, our Arab and Islamic nations: On the 10th day of the Al-Aqsa intifadah, we, in Hamas movement, stress the following:
First: On the Palestinian level:
We call on our mujahid masses to escalate the Al-Aqsa intifadah and confront the enemy soldiers and herds of settlers. We also call for breaking the siege on Al-Aqsa Mosque by performing prayers in it, particularly by our people in Jerusalem and in the Palestinian areas occupied in 1948.
On this Palestinian day of anger, we salute our people for responding to the Al-Aqsa Mosque’s call by staging massive demonstrations after Friday prayers in Palestinian mosques, confronting enemy soldiers, offering more than 11 martyrs, and suffering wounds by hundreds of Palestinians. We also salute the mujahid Shamlakh family, which offered its second martyr during the Al-Aqsa intifadah.
We highly value the initiative made by our people’s masses, which have rushed to Palestine’s hospitals to donate blood for their injured brothers.
We urge the Palestinian [National] Authority to release all the political prisoners and mujahidin in its prisons so that every one of them can play his role in this intifadah by protecting our people and fighting the enemy. Our people have the right to ask in whose interest these free people and muhajahin remain in prison.
We call on the authority and its security organs to stop security cooperation, as well as all forms of meetings, with the Zionist enemy.
Second: On the Arab and Islamic level:
1. The captured Al-Aqsa, our mujahid people, and their martyrs warmly greet our Arab and Islamic people’s righteous martyrs for their massive marches and supportive calls from Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian, Lebanese, Saudi, Yemeni, Iraqi, Qatari, Emiri, Omani, Kuwaiti, Sudanese, Iranian, Moroccan, Algerian, Bahraini, Mauritanian, Pakistani, Malaysian, and Indonesia mosques. We also greet the Arab and Islamic communities, as well as all free people in European countries, the United States, and Russia.
2. We call for continued support for and solidarity with our people. We also urge protests against Zionist massacres in the Arab and Islamic capitals.
3. We urge the anticipated Arab summit to be a summit for Al-Aqsa, jihad, resistance, and building a real Arab strategy to repulse the occupiers and save Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem, and Palestine from them, rather than issuing statements of condemnation and giving new chances for the humiliating peace process.
4. We call on the nation’s leaders to back our people’s steadfastness and our mujahidin, open the door of jihad to liberate Palestine, and allow the angry masses to express their support for and solidarity with our people, not to repress these masses. We also denounce the crime of the killing of one of the sons of our people in Jordan as a result of violence and repression against marchers.
Third: On activities:
Let the coming days be days of confrontation with enemy soldiers and herds of settlers. We urge developing the means and tools of the intifadah; using all means of popular resistance, such as stones, Molotov cocktails, and knives; pouring oil on streets used by enemy vehicles; and causing as many losses as possible in enemy ranks.
We call on the youths and cubs of the Al-Aqsa intifadah to launch a campaign of writing slogans on walls condemning the Zionist massacres and the desecration of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque. We also call for halting negotiations immediately and continuing jihad and resistance. And we salute the Arab and Islamic masses, which have stood by our people.
Let Thursday 12th October be a day of collective fasting for God by all of our people in solidarity with the families of the martyred and injured.
Let Friday 13th October be a distinguished day of escalation and let marches be staged from mosques after the Friday prayer to stress the Islamic and Arabic character of Jerusalem, as well as our right in Al-Aqsa and its walls and yards.
We call for organizing visits to the martyrs’ families, expressing solidarity with them, and meeting their needs.
Allahu Akbar and victory to our mujahid people.
[Signed] The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, Palestine
[Dated] Saturday, 9th Rajab 1412 AH, corresponding to 7th October 2000
Statement by Prime Minister Ehud Barak, 7 October 2000 Top
Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Statement by Prime Minister Ehud Barak – 07-Oct-2000.” Accessed from www.mfa.gov.il
Statement by Prime Minister Ehud Barak
Jerusalem, October 7, 2000
Citizens of Israel, good evening,
We are facing the beginning of a new situation in the State of Israel. We are witnessing an acute and violent escalation in our relations with the Palestinians. Responsibility for this rests with Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. If he so wished, he could with a simple command halt the violence.
I call upon the Palestinians to immediately cease the violence and to agree to the call issued last week by President Clinton to meet in the coming days to continue discussion of the implementation of the agreement.
Israel will not conduct negotiations parallel to violence of any kind. With the same determination that we struggled to seek peace, we will know how to fight against violence.
Until now I have issued instructions to exercise restraint – not to act, but to react. If we will not see a change in the patterns of violence in the next two days, we shall see this as the breaking off of the peace negotiations by Arafat – a cessation for which he bears responsibility and which he initiated. We shall direct the IDF and the security forces to use all means at their disposal to halt the violence.
A new situation is indeed taking shape. This is one of the most important struggles in the history of the State of Israel – a struggle for our very right to live here in this difficult and tormented region as free people.
Our stance in this situation will in large measure determine our future.
The struggle will not be an easy one. It may well be protracted. There will be ups and downs, and, like today, there will be difficult moments – perhaps even more difficult. But if we will stand united, we will prevail.
Since Madrid and Oslo, throughout a decade, three or four consecutive governments in Israel have strived to achieve a peace agreement with our Palestinian neighbors, on the premise that we have a partner for peace.
Today, the picture that is emerging, is that there is apparently no partner for peace.
This truth is a painful one, but it is the truth, and we must confront it with open eyes and draw the necessary conclusions.
We will not yield to violence. We are a small people, but strong and courageous. Anyone who challenges us with force, will be met with force, and immediately.
We will be united. We have no cause to blame ourselves. Our hands are clean. We have turned every stone and were prepared to discuss almost every possible idea in order to explore whether the other side is prepared to pursue the road of peace.
An agreement can be reached, but the other side, for whom the choice between agreement and violence is not an easy one either – has apparently chosen violence, and will bear the responsibility for the consequences of this choice.
Our peace efforts have not weakened us, but rather strengthened our internal unity. The time now is ripe in the framework of the overall political process, with the approaching end of the Clinton administration and the termination of the interim agreements signed between us and the Palestinians.
We must not lose hope. Peace will come. It will come if we will know how to insist on our vital rights and the vital interests of the people of Israel, on the security of Israel, on the unity of Israel, and on the holy values of Israel.
We will insist on what is most vital – and we will do so together.
I understand those within the peace camp today, who find themselves forced, together with us all, to watch the partner in whom we had hoped to see a greater readiness for peace than he apparently possesses.
I understand the pain of our fellow citizens of Israel on the right side of the political map, who are forced to come to grips with the painful recognition that achieving peace involves accepting that we will have less than we dreamed of.
But now is the time to prepare for confrontation, to join hands and to move together – together towards the challenges before us.
This afternoon, three IDF soldiers were kidnapped on Mount Dov during a routine security patrol along the border, near the gate leading to the Lebanese village of Shaba.
The three soldiers are now in the hands of the Hizbullah.
The Israeli government views Hizbullah, the government of Syria and the government of Lebanon as responsible for the well-being of the soldiers, for holding them safely in satisfactory conditions, and for sending them quickly home.
The kidnapping of soldiers is very painful, as we all know from experience. The incident is difficult for us and for the IDF. I ask that you understand that, for obvious reasons, I cannot go into detail about our actions or our intentions in this regard in the days to come.
I would like to say to all citizens of Israel: We are all going through difficult times. But I am filled with faith that, in the end, we will emerge from this confrontation and struggle stronger and more united, without relinquishing our values as a Jewish and democratic state, or our vital interests, while continuing to strive for security and peace in Israel.
To the Arab citizens of Israel, I wish to say: We have together built a democratic society which recognizes the coexistence of different communities and faiths. We have together built a life based, first and foremost, on the recognition that we are living together in a democratic state under the rule of law.
I appeal to you once again to continue the behavior pursued by the vast majority of the Israeli Arabs, who continue to act responsibly and maturely, and are not provoked into action by extremists and inciters.
I appeal to all of us to renew our efforts, to support the rule of law. No state can allow itself a repetition of the pictures of blocked roads, closed settlements, of vandalism, or of damage to property.
All of us, together, are charged with the ultimate duty to achieve peace and equality, and to fully integrate the Arab citizens in Israeli society – but to do so within the framework of an open, progressive and law-abiding society.
On the eve of Yom Kippur, I would like to wish all of us, every family in Israel, a good year. May you all be inscribed in the book of life.
Interview with Prime Minister Ehud Barak on CBS News “Face the Nation,” 8 October 2000 Top
Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Interview with Israel PM Barak on CBS News Face the Nation 08-Oct-2000.” Accessed from www.mfa.gov.il
Interview with Prime Minister Ehud Barak on CBS News “Face the Nation”
October 8, 2000
MR. SCHIEFFER: We start this morning with the Prime Minister of Israel. Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much for joining us. You laid out an ultimatum to the Palestinians yesterday, I suppose I would ask you, what happens if they don’t respond?
PRIME MINISTER BARAK: I didn’t lay out an ultimatum. I said the obvious, almost self-evident consequence. If Arafat, who can easily order an end to the whole violence that we are facing is not doing it within reasonable time frame, let’s say two days, we won’t have but only way to conclude that he deliberately has decided to abandon the negotiation process, and is preferring a confrontation. We will not yield to a negotiation that goes simultaneously with a wave of violence, kind of launched at us in total contradiction to all the agreements he had signed in the last seven years.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. Prime Minister, do you believe, in fact, that Mr. Arafat is in control here, and could stop this violence?
PRIME MINISTER BARAK: First of all, he’s in control. I’m confident that if he gives the right orders, loud and clear, to the right individuals in his Tanzim, which is a street organization of Fatah, which is armed against the agreements, if he gives such an order, within 12 hours we will have a calm situation. He proved it in the past. It’s the same right now. And in a way, may I say that if he’s totally out of control of his people, what is the essence of making him a partner and a future head of state.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Already we are seeing the spread, three Israeli soldiers were taken captive yesterday by Hezbollah. You suggested in a news conference earlier today that Syria may be behind that. What can you tell us about that, and would you be willing to release some of the Hezbollah people if it could be in exchange for your Israeli soldiers?
PRIME MINISTER BARAK: I think that Hezbollah ran this operation, not the Syrians, but since the Syrian is the prominent power player in Lebanon, out of its own choice, I have no way but to see this reality, and identify the Syrians as the source of responsibility for any attack against Israel from the soil of Lebanon, whether they directly received an order like that last one, or indirectly. But, let me tell you more than that, if Syria would take all necessary acts or steps in order to put an end to the violence of Hezbollah, I would not hold them responsible. This is the same way that I don’t hold responsible King Abdullah for what comes from Jordan, since I know that he takes all the measures to put an end to it. I don’t hold Mubarak responsible for what comes from Egypt, since I know he takes all steps to avoid it. But, we cannot say this about Syria, they are the power player, they are responsible, and they might be addressed.
MR. SCHIEFFER: And what about that possible prisoner exchange, would you even entertain such a thing?
PRIME MINISTER BARAK: I don’t want at this delicate moment to discuss it in front of the camera.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Is there a role for the United States to play here, Prime Minister?
PRIME MINISTER BARAK: I believe that the United States is deeply involved in the peace process in the Middle East. I should tell you that I highly admire the contribution of Secretary Albright in the last few months, but especially in the last few days and weeks. And as well, the contribution of the administration under President Clinton. Of course, the United States can contribute, but ultimately the decision should be made by the local leaders. No one can impose peace upon Arafat, no one can impose peace upon the young President of Syria, Beshar Assad, and no one can impose peace. It takes two to tango, and it takes two to peace, and only one is enough to initiate confrontation.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Prime Minister, how close at this point are you to war?
PRIME MINISTER BARAK: I do not know, I hope we are not close to a war. But, look, we have to understand, we have a tough situation. We lived through tough situations in the past. Israel is a young encouraged democracy, open society, pluralistic one, that lives in a neighborhood that does not resemble the neighborhood of North America or Western Europe. We are living in a place where there is no mercy for the weak, and no second opportunity for those who cannot defend themselves.
So when we come to make peace, we stretch our arm. I committed myself to leave no stone unturned on the way to peace. I was ready to contemplate ideas that were never contemplated by any previous Israeli prime minister, neither Netanyahu or even Rabin in Paris, but I’m not going to make a peace at any price, or at any cost. I am for the peace of the brave. I am against the peace of the ostriches that might put their head in the sand at the toughest moment, let the wave storm them and say afterwards, okay, that’s what’s happened. I’m not ready for this kind of peace. We will stick to our vital interests. We will show openness and readiness to contemplate the interests and the rights of the other side.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Prime Minister, thank you so much for joining us this morning. Thank you.
Communique of Israeli Cabinet, 10 October 2000 Top
Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Cabinet Communique 10-Oct-2000.” Accessed from www.mfa.gov.il
Jerusalem, 10 October 2000
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Following is the communique from the Cabinet meeting that began last night (Monday), 9.10.2000 and ended early this morning (Tuesday), 10.10.2000:
1. The Cabinet discussed events in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, on the Lebanese border and inside the country. IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz, Director of IDF Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Malka, Israel Police Inspector-General Yehuda Wilk and Coordinator of Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Ya’acov Orr.
2. Against the background of developments and the supreme need to protect the security of Israeli citizens, IDF soldiers and the country’s vital interests, and in response to appeals from international bodies, the Cabinet acknowledges the following statement by Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak:
A. Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak orders the IDF and the security forces to step up and expand their areas of activity in defense of Israeli citizens and soldiers by all appropriate means.
B. Diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on substantive issues related to the permanent settlement will resume after the violence of the last ten days has ceased.
C. Appeals for other contacts between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (including on the need to halt the violence, etc.) will be discussed on their merits.
3. The Cabinet views with utmost gravity and regret the disturbances and violent incidents in recent days by Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens around the country. The Cabinet acknowledges Public Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami’s report on his orders to the Israel Police to act determinedly to halt the spate of violent acts while making a supreme effort to avoid injury to life and limb.
4. The Cabinet declares its backing for the IDF, Israel Police and the security forces and supports their activities.
5. The Cabinet will continue to do everything possible to effect the release of the abducted soldiers, as well as Israel’s other POWs and MIAs, and bring about their safe return home.
Following are Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s remarks at the start of the Cabinet meeting (Monday), 9.10.2000:
“In the last two days, very grave incidents have occurred between Jews and Arabs; I would hope that these events serve as a red warning light to society as a whole. I call on Jewish citizens to refrain from attacking Arabs and their property under any circumstances; anyone who attacks a minority living in our midst also attacks both the fabric and image of the State of Israel. I call on Arab citizens to refrain from being dragged along after an extremist minority that wants to harm the fabric of society.”
Prime Minister Barak also offered his condolences to the families of those who have been killed.
Briefing by Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Shlomo-Ben Ami, 10 October 2000 Top
Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Briefing by Acting FM Ben-Ami to the Foreign Press – 10-Oct-2000.” Accessed from www.mfa.gov.il
Briefing by Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Shlomo Ben-Ami to the Foreign Press
Jerusalem, October 10, 2000
Israel has given the Palestinian Authority a few days to see whether tranquility and peace will reign in the territories and the level of violence will be reduced, so that we can proceed to the real objective of this government, which is to revive the peace process.
Over the last days, we have had all kind of arguments about the real situation on the ground. I would like to mention some key points with regard to the way we see the performance of the Palestinian Authority – not only, by the way, in recent days, but throughout the last years.
We have an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, and this agreement binds the Palestinian Authority to abide by norms and regulations. We took it that we made an agreement with an orderly system that respects binding agreements.
I am not aware that the Palestinian Authority abides by articles in our joint agreements, such as, for example, the obligation to renounce violence and terror, and take all measures necessary to prevent acts of violence and terror against Israel. This is an agreement signed between us. Recently they have released Hamas militants, Hamas activists, from jail, and Israel is concerned today about the threat of possible acts of terrorism. The other day we saw on TV a cabinet meeting of the Palestinian Authority with the participation of Hamas activists. These people, according to the agreement we signed with the Palestinian Authority, should have been disciplined.
The same should be said about the Tanzim organization. The Tanzim organization is a Fatah grassroots group that, according to the agreement signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, should be disarmed and disciplined. It is neither disarmed nor disciplined. It is, in fact, one of the major groups perpetrating violent activities that require the response of the IDF.
Another obligation of the Palestinian Authority is to resolve all outstanding issues through bilateral negotiations. I am not aware that this is the case now. We have been, from the very first moment that this violence started, trying through different channels to convey to Chairman Arafat the message that he should bring an end to violence and we should proceed to what I described before as the main objective, that is, peace talks.
We met with the Palestinians, with Chairman Arafat, in Paris, and in Paris we drafted an agreement to bring an end to violence. One article of that agreement said that a commission of inquiry will be established, with the participation of Israel, the Palestinians, the Americans, international experts, and the findings of this commission will be submitted to the Secretary General of the UN. Chairman Arafat said: This is not international enough.
Then President Clinton called Chairman Arafat two or three days ago, and said to him: Listen, if it is not international enough, I suggest we incorporate the Norwegians to this commissions. The Norwegians are a major donor to the Palestinian Authority, the Norwegians are friends of the Palestinian cause, the Norwegians are the embodiment of the Oslo accords. So you will have it international. Then Chairman Arafat said: I will think it over.
This was not international enough. Chairman Arafat was looking and seems still to be looking for an alibi to evade the consequences of this peace process.
Another duty we signed with the Palestinian Authority is their duty to refrain from and act against all forms of incitement. Radio Palestine is a school of incitement, of daily incitement. We signed an agreement that binds the Palestinian Authority to fight incitement.
The duty to apprehend, prosecute and detain terrorists; the duty to confiscate and destroy illegal weapons – we signed an agreement on that.
The agreements between us and the Palestinian Authority do not touch only the issue of Israel’s withdrawal from land. It touches also issues such as those I just mentioned: the duty to confiscate and destroy illegal weapons; the duty to continuously maintain joint security cooperation mechanisms with Israel to ensure public order and security; the duty to ensure that holy sites are respected and protected – the Tomb of Joseph is a very good example.
The same day that President Clinton called Arafat to suggest that Norway be incorporated into something that still was not international enough for Arafat, with a gesture of goodwill, Arafat said to Clinton: By the way, I will protect the Tomb of Joseph. The results are very well known – how the Palestinian Authority protected the Tomb of Joseph.
The Palestinians are bound to the duty to ensure that no armed forces other than the Palestinian police and the Israeli military forces are established or operate in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. I am not going to elaborate too much on the number of policemen that according to the agreement, signed by the Palestinian Authority, they should have. I think they have doubled the number, more or less.
But my main message is not the message of the breach of agreements. It is there, for everybody to check. My main message is this: This Israeli government has gone to the outer limits of the capacity of any Israeli government in order to reach a reasonable compromise with the Palestinians. We went to Camp David; after Camp David we met the Palestinians, here, there, all over the place. We tried to elaborate some package, together with the Americans, and we were waiting for the result of our common effort.
And then we get this outburst of violence, of which we have solid ground that much of it was orchestrated by the Palestinian Authority, with the aim of gaining ground in the international community. This cynical attempt to lubricate the improvement of an international image through the blood of Palestinians is very, very tragic indeed.
Nevertheless, for us, the Palestinian people is and continues to be a partner for peace. We believe that the Palestinians need and want peace. The policies of this government are a reflection of the fact that we also need and want peace. It’s about time that Arafat ceases looking for alibis and concentrates on the business of peace-making. We are ready for it, if indeed violence is eliminated from the agenda of our common relations.
We don’t want to be confronting the Palestinians. We don’t have any interest for a tragedy to develop in this part of the world. We want peace with the Palestinians, regional stability, and a reasonable deal for everybody. This is the essence of our policy. We are not deaf to ideas, proposals, and initiatives. But we ask Arafat to control his territory.
Some of the leaders who visited us in recent days told us: Maybe Arafat wants to control the territories, but he is incapable. The only answer one can give to this is, if he is incapable of controlling violence in his territory, what kind of a partner is he? We have a problem with Arafat if he willingly does not control violence, but also if unwillingly he doesn’t control it. So he has a challenge here, to prove, indeed, to Israel and to the international community whether he is a leader with an orderly system, where instructions percolate through all the levels – otherwise, what kind of an agreement are we going to sign with him? Who will guarantee to us that tomorrow, after we have an agreement, and there is a Palestinian state, that agreements will be respected other than the way you saw the agreements so far have been respected?
Nevertheless, we persist, and we look for avenues, and we expect an end to violence, and we would like to put Arafat to the final test: Is he ready for an agreement with this government, or does he want to go on and on and on with violence? If violence is imposed on us, we will fight back. If peace is what Arafat wants, we will go for a peace deal.
But time is not limitless. After all, one cannot perpetuate the process. The objective is peace, not the process.
Q: You spoke about giving Arafat several more days to try and stop the violence. Could you be more specific? two days? three days? And is it possible for a summit in the near future?
A: When we decided that we should give a few days for Arafat to take his time and see whether he can control the situation, we were approached by all kind of leaders throughout the world – President Clinton, people who visited us and are among us today, Kofi Annan, Javier Solana, the Russian Foreign Minister – and leaders throughout Europe. So we thought that in this delicate moment, we should not create a situation whereby, by our insistence of a strict deadline, people will come and accuse us of local original deterioration of the state of affairs. So we would like to be as flexible in this as we possibly can. But we do say that the initiative to have some kind of regional summit needs to be accompanied by a substantial reduction of the level of violence here. I believe that we are talking here about several days, not too many.
A: I don’t have a clear answer to the question of whether or not Arafat controls the situation. The only thing I can tell you for sure is that his instructions to end violence are clearly ambivalent. To the Tanzim, which is the major organization that creates much of the instability, I am not aware that he has ever given clearcut instructions to them.
With regard to settlers in the West Bank, I just came from a tour of the area, and I am really surprised by the level of restraint of the settlers throughout the territories. Any act of unilateral violence perpetrated by settlers is something that we denounce and we will discipline those who behave in such a way – just as we did yesterday within the State of Israel in Acre, in Nazareth, to Jewish Israelis on this side of the Green Line. So this is indeed most unfortunate. It is the reflection of a sense of insecurity and isolation. Nevertheless, as far as we are concerned, it is not a sufficient reason to take the law into their hands.
We take the notion of Arab solidarity as something that should be taken for granted. We do not dispute the fact that this is a whole Arab nation, and we are not going to discuss the question of solidarity. They are solidarious to each other – fine with us. However, we would like to localize, to limit the conflict with the Palestinians so that it does not become a regional conflict. We certainly hope that the state of conflict that we are going through now will end immediately, so the issue will be non-existent anymore. But we are in touch with the Egyptian government, with the Jordanian government, and Americans and others are in touch with other governments with which we do not have fluid contact, in order to convey the message that Israel is indeed interested in regional stability.
Even in the case of Lebanon, where three Israeli soldiers were abducted recently, we do not have any interest to open a front in the north. We expect the issue to be solved peacefully and according to the norms of international law. I said personally yesterday to Kofi Annan that we pulled out from Lebanon, abiding by Security Council Resolution 425, and we did it accompanied by the hand of Secretary General Kofi Annan. We withdrew to the last millimeter. What would be the image of the UN in Israeli public opinion if, after having pulled out, those who always criticize us for not fulfilling Security Council resolutions or UN resolutions – what argument do they have now? Maybe Israel, after all, may have some reason to be suspicious of some of the resolutions with regard to us. So we do expect these soldiers to be released with no conditions attached. They were illegally abducted and they should be released.
Q: (inaudible – about the government coalition)
A: We certainly have to broaden the basis of our coalition. If this is going to be a national unity government, I don’t know to tell you. National unity government in Israel is a euphemism for a coalition between Labor and Likud. A broad coalition is a euphemism for an alliance between either Likud or Labor with the others. So a broad coalition is possible. One does not necessarily need to have a national unity government in order to have a broad and solid coalition.
Q: (inaudible – about the role of Secretary General Annan)
A: I’ll be seeing Secretary General Kofi Annan with the Prime Minister in a couple of hours, and we will be all a bit wiser after we meet him. When I saw him, I saw before me a man of extraordinary moral stature and commitments, and I believe that he will stay in the area to try and give his unique input, both the case of the soldiers in Lebanon and to the Palestinian issue. I trust that this friend of peace will do his utmost, and I am very curious to hear what he has to say when I meet him in a couple of hours.
Q: Is he now the main diplomatic fare in the endeavor to bring the two sides together?
A: I don’t know to tell you if he is the main one, but he came here the first and he is very busy, and he is going to stay here – he will go to Beirut, to Damascus, and probably shuttle between us and the Palestinians. But there are others who are not here and work in different means: President Clinton is very, very active. I know that President Chirac called some of the leaders in the area. So many leaders are involved in this question.
This is a very typical sort of situation that Arafat likes to create every now and then – that is, a crisis, and then suddenly the issue becomes the center of world attention – unnecessarily, by the way. Because we could have gone on negotiating. There was no need to open such a focus of world interest. But this is very typical of Arafat. Seemingly he likes to move from phase to phase with a highly intensive sense of drama.
A: Frankly this is one of the less central arguments that I would like to advance here. I don’t have any problem if the Palestinians have weapons, so long as the weapons are used for the purpose they were given – to fight terrorism. They were not given to fight us. So the number of rifles of sub-machine guns or whatever they may have is not the central concern of Israel. The concern is not who gave them weapons and how many weapons they were given, but why do they shoot. That is the question.
I am not an interpreter of Arafat’s intentions. The only thing I can tell you is that this is a departure from the agreement – simply turning his back to the agreement. But you can have your guess just as anybody else. Does he want to encourage terrorism? – a possibility. Does he want to create a unity within the Palestinian family at the expense of his relations with Israel? – it is also a possibility. In both cases it is something which we cannot accept.
A: I really don’t know if the bad blood developed. I think that we drew some lessons with regard to their capacity to abide by agreements, to the question of whether or not we have in front of us an orderly system. These are very, very severe question marks that were opened in these days.
But as I told you before, we have a strategic objective, and that is reaching peace with the Palestinians. We will do our utmost to overcome dire experiences and memories and to advance to a reasonable peace agreement with the Palestinians.
A: The most severe damage that was caused by the recent events is to the solidity of the commitment and the belief of the Israeli left-of-center in the peace process. This is one of the major crises of conscience and confidence of the left in this country. Many of us who were brought up believing that peace with the Palestinians is possible, that peace requires bold compromises, that we should pay a heavy price, that Arafat is a partner – I am telling you, the mood of the Israeli today is not dissimilar to the mood of the Israeli right after the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin. It is a deep crisis in the conscience of the Israeli left, and I hope that Arafat understands that part of it. These are the real consequences. This is the real damage.
A: If peace is the Palestinian choice, we will go to peace. If they impose on us violence, we will respond with violence. We don’t have any alternative. But this is not the course we prefer. For the time being, we should be cautious and calculate our measures in a way that will serve the purpose that we have before us: that is, to make clear to the Palestinians that violence serves no purpose. They will not change Israel’s positions, and they will only bring suffering to their people. Peace is the objective. If violence is the choice, we will respond with violence.
Interview with Hamas leader Ahmad Yasin, 11 October 2000 Top
Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, “Israel: Palestinian Hamas leader says struggle to continue, 14 October 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic 25 September 2000.
Text of report on interview with Hamas leader Ahmad Yasin by Roni Shaqed in Gaza on 11th October; published by Israeli newspaper ‘Yediot Aharonot’ on 12th October
“I do not understand what Arafat’s policy is. I do not know what he wants. One minute he wants to continue the negotiations with Israel and then he doesn’t. I call on him to stop all relations with Israel,” Hamas leader Ahmad Yasin said yesterday in an interview with ‘Yediot Aharonot’.
Yasin also said: “Arafat did not ask us to stop the terrorism. The meeting we held on Sunday [8th October] was meant for the media. It was not a working meeting. I say to Israel: “Hamas did not stop the struggle and the opposition activity. The struggle will go on as long as the occupation continues.”
To the question whether Arafat gave Hamas the green light to carry out terrorist attacks, he responds with caution, almost trying to beg the question: “It is not a green light or a yellow light. Baraq gave the green light to the army to operate aircraft, missiles, and tanks. He gave the green light to the settlements. We have a green light to defend ourselves. “Izz-al-Din al-Qasim, the Hamas military arm, will be the one to decide when and where to implement an attack.”
Yasin’s people later said that his cautious answers on attacks was related to his concern that a more direct response would lead to a sharp P[N]A [Palestinian National Authority] reaction. They said the Hamas does not have an interest in confronting the PA these days, mainly due to the recent improvement that led to the release of many Hamas prisoners.
Nevertheless, Yasin stressed that Hamas has not abandoned its intention to kidnap IDF [Israel Defence Forces] soldiers in order to bargain for the release of prisoners. “The kidnapping of soldiers is our policy. Israel is not releasing the prisoners and this is the way to bring about their release. Israel, as a state, kidnapped Shaykh Ubayd and Mustafa Dirani in order to exchange them for Israeli prisoners, and therefore others also have the right to act the same way.
“The ongoing intifadah is a defence action by the Palestinian people,” the Hamas leader said.
“Israel attacks us, massacres us with aircraft and missiles. The Palestinians can and must defend themselves with all means, with all weapons possible. We must do all we can.
“I want to tell the Israeli people: You live on occupied land that you stole. You live on land where you destroyed the houses and its sons were killed. You will not have a future in this region.
“Hamas is part of the Palestinian people and it participates in the people’s actions to defend itself. We are doing all we can, and we are capable of everything, every struggle, even an armed struggle.”
Interview with Hamas political leader Mahmud al-Zahhar, 12 October 2000 Top
Source: BBC Monitoring Middle East, “Hamas official says ‘resistance option against Israel must be activated,” 13 October 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic 25 September 2012.
Text of live interview via satellite with Mahmud al-Zahhar, member of the Hamas political leadership, in Gaza, by Jamal Rayyan broadcast by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 12th October
Rayyan Dr Al-Zahhar, in response to what happened today, is this the Hamas day? Will you take some sort of action against Israel?
Al-Zahhar Yes, and a big yes. This day reveals the real intentions of the occupation. This is what peace means to Baraq and the Americans who stand behind him. This is the proof that the resistance option must be activated. This moment requires all the mujahidin to respond decisively so we can avenge the blood of our children and pious martyrs.
Rayyan Some say that the Palestinian National Authority’s PNA release of the Hamas members has not come in a vacuum. Some say that the PNA considers you an asset for the Palestinian cause at this time. How will you respond to this PNA measure?
Al-Zahhar For two weeks, we as Islamic forces, have stood by the nationalist forces on the streets, in marches and demonstrations, in statements, and in mobilizing the Palestinian Arab, and Islamic peoples. We will always remain an asset for the Palestinian people and those who work for this cause. We will remain soldiers who will be ready to make sacrifices and to die so the banner of “There Is No God But Allah,” the immortal Palestinian, Arab, and Islamic banner, will be raised over Jerusalem, God willing.
Now we ask all the Arabs to follow the example of the Sultanate of Oman, to bust the dens of the agents, the killers, and the murderer Zionists and expel them from Arab territories and support the Palestinian people. As for us, we are always ready. Therefore, we are demanding rearrangement of the Palestinian house based on a programme of resistance and steadfastness until God give us victory on our homeland.
Rayyan Does this mean that the coordination with the PNA has begun for taking an anti-Israeli measure?
Al-Zahhar Coordination has not started. We attended a session of the nationalist and Islamic follow-up committee and a statement will be issued shortly, today, to emphasize this fact and demand implementing a programme of resistance against the occupation, and allow the civilian bodies to take part in defending areas that are exposed to Israeli attack.
Hamas statement, 12 October 2000 Top
Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, “Hamas calls on people to take to streets, defy Israeli bombardments,” 16 October 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic 25 September 2012.
Text of statement by Hamas, dated 12th October, released that day by Hamas web site
Al-Aqsa Intifadah – Statement No 9
Aircraft and rockets and the entire nuclear arsenal of the enemy will not intimidate our mujahid people. Let the marches of popular rage throughout Arab and Islamic land keep going. We demand that the leaders of the nation declare jihad in defence of Al-Aqsa Mosque and our unarmed people
Our Palestinian people; our fellow Arabs and Muslims:
The Zionist enemy continues to engage in the commission of crimes and terror deploying aircraft, tanks and rockets and unleashing the gangs of settlers who are armed to the teeth to spread corruption, terror, and shed blood in a bid to force capitulation on our people and to Judaize Jerusalem and to tear down Al-Aqsa in order to build the Temple in its place. This usurper enemy thinks that the language of terror and oppression can possibly force our people into submitting to their terms and to Zionist visions.
There is the enemy using its military machine to lay siege to our unarmed people and there are our people standing up as ever to the enemy and its rockets with their bare chests with their heads held high undaunted by all the tanks and the rockets. Martyrs continue to fall in defence of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa and the holy shrines and the pride and dignity of the Arab and Islamic nation.
Our Palestinian people, our Arab and Muslim nation: We in Hamas would like to make the following points:
1 – Hamas and its mujahid people (Martyr Iaa al-Din al-Qassam Battalions) will defend the Palestinian people, land, honour and holy shrines side by side with our people. The criminal enemy will not escape the punishment. It will pay a dear price; a very dear price. The blood of the Palestinians will not be shed in vain.
2 – We call on our people in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip to go out to the streets to defy the Israeli bombardment and to form a human shield to defend national establishments. We emphasize that our heroic people will defend themselves and their holy shrines and their dignity down to the last Palestinian child, God willing. Our people shall never bow to anyone other than God. They shall stand firm and fight and shall never be intimidated by rockets and tanks and not even to the entire nuclear arsenal of the enemy.
3 – In these times of difficulty we call on the Palestinian [National] Authority to quickly arm our people and all those capable of carrying arms to defend our land and holy shrines.
4 – We urge the leaders of the Arab and Muslim nation to move urgently to come to the aid of our people and to defend them. We urge that they promptly put in place preparations for confrontation and war with the arrogant Zionist enemy so the enemy understand that our people are not alone in this world and that they have their Arab and Muslim nation on their side. Let them understand that our fellow Arabs and Muslims are not about to let us down or leave them to face death and terror on their own. Now is the time for the Arab and Islamic militaries to move to come to the aid of Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem and our unarmed people.
5 – We appeal to Arab and Islamic masses that have stood by our people over the past few days and vented their anger against the Zionist massacres to continue their support of our people and champion the cause of Al-Aqsa Mosque. We call on them to go out tomorrow, Friday, 13th October, and the following days on marches of anger and massive protests to denounce the Zionist aggression and to express the unity of our nation and its adherence to its rights and holy shrines and to demand that the leaders of the nation declare jihad in defence of Al-Aqsa and support of the unarmed Palestinian people.
6 – We demand that the Arab states that have set up relations with the Zionist enemy expel the ambassadors of the enemy and its representatives and to close down the Israeli embassies and the Israeli legations immediately as a response to the Zionist aggression. These steps represent the minimum that needs to be done at this juncture.
We take this opportunity to applaud our brothers in the Sultanate of Oman who have acted in resonance with the conscience of the nation in closing the Zionist representative office to dramatize their protest over the Zionist aggression against our unarmed people.
7 -We view the Zionist missiles fired at Ramallah and Gaza city as the coup de grace delivered to the corpse of the peace process. We call on the Palestinian [National] Authority to pronounce the peace process officially dead. The only way to confront the arrogant enemy is the jihad option and resistance. What was taken by force can only be restored by force. Allahu Akbar and victory to our mujahid people
[Signed] The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas – Palestine
[Dated] Thursday 12th October 2000
Barak’s statement on military action in Ramallah and Gaza, 12 October 2000 Top
Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “PM Barak – Israel will use all means at its disposal to defend its citizens and soldiers – 12-Oct-2000.” Accessed from www.mfa.gov.il on 17 April 2012.
12 October 2000
PM Barak: Israel will use all means at its disposal to defend its citizens and soldiers; today’s actions are warning signal to PA
(Communicated by the Defense Minister’s Media Adviser)
Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak today (Thursday), 12.10.2000, ordered the IDF to act against Palestinian Authority military and security targets in Ramallah and Gaza..
Prime Minister Barak said that a country which desires peace cannot ignore the serious lynch that was carried out today against IDF soldiers, and added that Israel – like any sovereign country – must take all measures at its disposal in order to defend its citizens and soldiers. Today’s action is a warning signal to the Palestinian Authority lest it misinterpret Israel’s restraint and desire for security and peace..
Prime Minister Barak stated that today’s lynch and cold-blooded murder of IDF reservists is a serious crime and a loss of control by the Palestinian Authority and warned that Israel will use all means at its disposal against further attempts to harm the security of its citizens and soldiers.
Interview with Hamas leader Ahmad Yasin, 13 October 2000 Top
Source: BBC Monitoring Middle East, “Hamas founder gives reasons for Gaza vandalism, rearrest of members,” 14 October 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic 25 September 2000.
Excerpts from telephone interview with Ahmad Yasin, Hamas founder, in Gaza, by Khadijah Bin-Qinnah, in the studio in Doha, broadcast live by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 13th October
Bin-Qinnah A Hamas official source has reported that the Palestinian National Authority issued warrants for the arrest of some of the Hamas detainees who have been released recently, including Abd-Al-Aziz al-Rantisi. The source added that the release that took place yesterday was not a political decision but came as a result of the pressure of massive demonstrations. As a follow-up on the subject of the incidents that took place in Gaza today, I have with me on the phone from there Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, founder of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas. Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, some shops suspected of selling alcoholic beverages and some tourist facilities have been burned. These acts have been attributed to Hamas elements. Is this the right time for such acts? Does not that constitute a deviation from the course of this intifadah being waged by the Palestinian people?
Yasin In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. I would like to answer this question in three points. First, we in the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, have no knowledge of what happened in the first place. We did not take part in it, and we have nothing to do with what has happened.
Second, all our instructions to our sons, brothers, and friends state that we are facing an Israeli enemy and we that cannot turn this confrontation with the Israeli enemy into an inter-Palestinian conflict. We cannot allow internal struggle and fighting to prevail in the Palestinian street, which is just what Israel and the United States wish to see. Therefore, for this purpose, we have endured a great deal. We have endured prisons, detention camps, torture, and manhunt. We stress the national Palestinian unity.
Third, what happened today was that marches and demonstrations took to the streets in large numbers. Tens of thousands of people took part in them. They took to the streets to confront the aggression and denounce the Israeli helicopter shelling. Some people burned wine shops and places of corruption selling drugs and wines. This reflects the inner feelings of the Palestinian people, who refuse to have such places in their midst, because they corrupt the young generation and make them yield to the Israeli aggression.
Hence, the masses, acting spontaneously and personally, burned these wine shops. Therefore, we say that the Palestinian authority is the side to blame for sanctioning places of corruption that sell wines and drugs and corrupt the generation. It must enforce the law and prevent such places, which cannot be disguised as tourist places. The Palestinian authority must enforce the law by preventing such places so that the man-in-the-street will not take the law into his own hands…
Bin-Qinnah Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, how do you then interpret the Palestinian National Authority’s summoning of a number of the Hamas elements who were previously released? Dou you believe that pressures have been put on the authority in this direction?
Yasin Definitely, the Palestinian authority faced a difficult option yesterday. While the aircraft were bombing, the masses were chanting and attacking prisons to release prisoners. The gates were broken and the prisoners left the prisons under the pressure of the masses and in denunciation of what is happening in the Palestinian street. However, there are US, British, and Israeli pressures demanding the return of those people to prison. I am fully aware that there had been a decision to release Dr Abd-al-Aziz al-Rantisi two days earlier. He was to be released at midnight. After he reached the prison gate, a new telephone call came from the leadership to suspend his release. This is because the British foreign secretary himself intervened against his release.
Bin-Qinnah Shaykh Ahmad Yasin from Gaza, thank you.
Hamas statement, 15 October 2000 Top
Source: BBC Monitoring Middle East, “Hamas statement on laying of Temple Mount cornerstone,” 16 October 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic 25 September 2000.
Text of statement by Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, on “laying of Temple Mount cornerstone on 16th October” as carried by Hamas web site on 15th October
In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Our struggling Palestinian people, our Arab and Islamic nation, in a new hostile and provocative step, the Zionist enemy authorities have decided to build the so-called “Temple” and permitted the laying of the cornerstone for the alleged temple near the holy Dome of the Rock mosque. A group from the Jewish Temple Mount Faithful has bought more than five tonnes of marble in order to use one piece as a cornerstone at the building site and the rest for building the foundations. This will take place tomorrow, Monday, at a ceremony, which will be held in the same place and guarded by special enemy army units. The laying of the cornerstone will coincide with the meeting of the ominous Sharm-al-Shaykh summit between the Palestinian Authority PA president and the criminal terrorist Baraq with the view to aborting the blessed Al-Aqsa intifadah. It will also coincide with the PA president’s acquiescence to Baraq’s demands to renew the arrest of the Hamas leaders, who have been released by the masses from the authority’s prisons.
In face of this hostile step, we affirm the following:
Firstly, we regard the attempt to lay the cornerstone for the reported temple in Al-Aqsa Mosque as a hostile act against our Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nation, as an act of war on our religion and Islamic beliefs, and as showing disregard for the feelings of more than 1.3m Muslims.
Secondly, this step follows the previous step, whereby the enemy government permitted the terrorist Sharon to enter the Al-Aqsa compound in an attempt to assert Zionist sovereignty over Al-Aqsa Mosque and as part of the continuous, rabid campaign to judaize Jerusalem and desecrate holy places.
Thirdly, the timing for laying the cornerstone of the alleged temple with the meeting of the ominous Sharm-al-Shaykh summit arouses our people’s and nation’s anger at the summit. And we denounce this summit, which seeks to abort our people’s intifadah and frustrate the masses of the nation who want jihad and resistance. All this is taking place while the criminal Baraq continues his aggression towards and suppression of our people and flouts Arab and Muslim peoples’ feelings by desecrating Al-Aqsa and permitting the laying of the cornerstone for the temple under the guard and protection of the enemy army.
Fourthly, we call upon our loyal, struggling people to come in large numbers to Al-Aqsa Mosque grounds tomorrow in order to confront the attempts to lay the cornerstone for the alleged temple building and to defend Al-Aqsa with their souls and blood. In particular, we urge our people in Jerusalem and in the part of Palestine occupied in 1948 to rally the largest number possible in order to abort enemy plots and plans and defend our religion and holy places. We also call upon all our people to come out tomorrow, Monday, in order to stage massive angry demonstrations and popular confrontations with enemy soldiers and settler groups in every town, village and camp; declare our people’s condemnation and rejection of the PA president’s presence at
Al-Sharm-al-Shaykh summit; and confront the attempts to judaize Al-Aqsa and build the alleged temple.
Fifthly, we urge the peoples of our Arabic and Islamic nation to continue their activities in defence of Al-Aqsa and in solidarity with our people, condemn the ominous Sharm-al-Shaykh summit, and pay no attention to whatever is issued by it considering that it does not represent our
Palestinian people or the Arab and Islamic peoples.
Signed Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, Sunday 17th Rajab 1421 AH, corresponding to 15th October 2000
PM Barak’s interview with Wolf Blitzer, 15 October 2000 Top
Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Interview with PM Ehud Barak on CNN Late Edition – 15-Oct-2000.” Accessed from www.mfa.gov.il
Jerusalem, 15 October 2000
PM Barak talks to CNN Wolf Blitzer in his program “Late Edition”
Wolf Blitzer: Mr Prime Minister, welcome back to Late Edition. Its good to have you on our program. I want to begin with the news of the day, with this report that Hizbulla forces in Lebanon have supposedly captured an Israeli Army colonel. What can you tell us about this?
PM Barak: As of now, I dont know of any event along the border with Lebanon that could lead to such a result, but, you know, we cannot exclude the possibility that somewhere on Earth one of tens of thousands of Israelis who are spreading around the world have been hijacked and he happened to be a colonel in our reservist armed force.
WB: So at this point you cant confirm, you have no information, that a specific Israeli, another Israeli, has been taken prisoner by the Lebanese Hizbulla?
PM: As of know I dont have information, but I do not exclude it. Normally may I say the Hizbulla leaders would not announce something like this publicly if there is totally no basis for it.
WB: As you know, three Israeli soldiers were taken not long ago in Lebanon by the Hizbullah. They say that theyre prepared, the Hizbulla, to return those soldiers to Israel in exchange for more than a dozen Palestinian Lebanese detainees being held by Israel. Is Israel willing to make a deal along those lines for the return of its men?
PM: I believe that at the beginning of the 21st century, where all players are members of the UN, we have to set a norm saying that before an authorized international body gets access to them, nothing should be exchanged or could be put as a condition. I expect that they will allow immediately the Red Cross or the UN or some official of an American or British or Russian embassy to get access to them, and then they should be returned home. The whole event is a kind of blunt violation of UN Security Council Resolution 425, along which we pulled out from Lebanon, to the letter, and this attack is a violation and we keep the right to respond.
WB: But it doesnt sound like youre saying that under, that if that were to occur, that if there were these kinds of meetings, it could set the stage for some sort of exchange.
PM: First of all, we expect it to be settled that someone gets access to them, and then we would have to think, to contemplate what to agree. WB: Mr. Prime Minister, theres going to be this summit at Sharm e-Sheikh, the southernmost tip of Sinai, on Monday. Realistically, what has happened over the past two and a half weeks, realistically, what can be accomplished at Sharm e-Sheikh?
PM: I believe that an end to violence could be accomplished, and in a way should be accomplished. I believe that a mechanism for making a kind of tighter control, maybe an American- Israeli-Palestinian mechanism to make sure that the security understandings are working, and of course we expect it to accomplish a bringing back of the Hamas prisoners to prisons, putting an end to shooting at Israelis by Palestinian policemen and Tanzim people, at night or even during demonstrations, and we would expect an end to the incitement on the Palestinian mass media, and appropriate treatment of holy sites. All these elements, all the four elements that Ive mentioned, are blunt violations of the agreement that the PA and its chairman Arafat signed, with the American signature as a witness, as a kind of underwriting.
WB: The Palestinians, as you well know, say the immediate objective must be an international commission of inquiry to investigate the Israeli behavior, the Israeli military and police behavior, towards the Palestinians, that without that theres really nothing that can go forward. Are you ready to accept such an international commission of inquiry?
PM: We agreed to a fact-finding study committee to be nominated by the Americans, having the authority of the Americans, the Palestinians, and the Israelis. We did not even resist that there will be participation of experts, that will be recommended by the UN, or the EU, or the President of the United States, but we are against an investigation committee that will draw its authority from the UN, since our experience is that in this case, with all due respect to the UN institution, its more politics, or biased politics, than real fact-finding.
WB: Do you believe, Mr. Prime Minister, that the Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat is still committed to the peace process?
PM: I cannot penetrate his soul. I judge him by his behavior. According to his behavior, he launched a wave of violence in the last few weeks, when it was clear that there IS on the table a possible framework agreement which reflects greater flexibility by Israel than ever in the past, and he chose not to go for it. That means that he deliberately decided to prefer confrontation. The essence of it, on the one hand, for us, its something that we have to face open-eyed and stand firm to resist, but at the same time, Chairman Arafat takes upon himself a major responsibility for the possible deterioration of the whole region into a period of instability with unpredictable consequences, not just for the region.
And I believe that at this time there is no way to draw a moral equivalent between Israel, the only democracy here that protects the interests of this new world, and a group of leaders of the Palestinian people that became accepted leaders by the intervention or by the support that they got from the United States administration on the assumption that they will stop violence, that they will stop corruption, that they will stop incitement, they will begin to behave properly. I should admit that in this kind of expectation, the Palestinian Authority failed. And in their failure, they are leading the whole area into a quite risky situation.
WB: The fact of the matter is, though, that many Palestinians believe you are no longer committed to the peace process. What they are saying is that since the failed Camp David summit last summer youve been looking for what they call an exit strategy to abandon the concessions that you put forward on the table during those negotiations at Camp David.
PM: No, the opposite is true. Ive already proved that Im ready to leave no stone unturned on the way to see whether we have a partner. Unfortunately, we didnt find one, as President Clinton himself said at the end of Camp David. And the American people, and especially this administration, invested a LOT of time, energy, resources, and devotion, even emotion, in trying to put an end to it, and we are highly thankful for it. Unfortunately, the Palestinians were the side who resisted it, and did not allow it to happen. But, let me tell you. We will never lose our hope for peace. We will ultimately have peace with the Palestinian people. They are our neighbors. They are going to be here forever. We will in the end live side by side, as neighbors, in peace, with the same people who are now incited to demonstrate against us, those teachers and students who are now in the riots.
But, the leadership, seems to be unripe, and a leadership can change its mind. A leadership can open its eyes. A leadership can be replaced by its own people. Even if with this leadership, at this present time, we cannot make peace, we will never lose hope of making peace with our neighbors, the Palestinians, and we will always, whatever happens, leave a certain door open to a possible change of approach, or of attitude, on the other side.
WB: May Palestinians also say, Mr. Prime Minister, that if you bring Ariel Sharon and the Likud into your government and form a national emergency coalition, that in effect will totally end prospects for peace, that it would signal that the Israeli government, such a new Israeli government, is no longer committed to the peace process.
PM: Look, its once again propaganda. They are quite skilful in taking every situation and turning it on its head. Look, for example, at the visit of Arik Sharon to the Temple Mount. What it really showed is how should we look at Arafat as custodian of holy sites if this is the kind of free access, and if this is the kind of keeping of holy sites, that he can provide, it puts a major question mark on his demand to hold holy sites sacred for Christians and for Jews, and even for Muslims.
I dont think that Arik Sharon is the reason, hes the excuse. And a very comfortable one. I dont think it was the most brilliant idea of the year to conduct this visit with this timing on the Temple Mount, but the whole installation is the defender of Israel, the defender of its capital, and its open to visitors from every place.
But let me tell you more seriously, I dont think that you, as a democratic society, and we as a democratic society, can get any dictates from those who are less democratic, let me put it mildly, about who is eligible to be in government. Arik Sharon represents a legitimate movement that believes in security and peace they have differences of emphasis and approach from ourselves Arafat himself sat down with Arik Sharon for ten days, together with President Clinton, at Wye Plantation, and they sat together to write down an agreement. I do not believe that this or that person can change realitites.
We are determined to make peace. Im the prime minister. I will never let anyone lead me in a direction I dont want to go, and the real problem is with Arafat and the Palestinian leadership. I would like to mention to you that two weeks ago, Arafat invited all the leadership of Hamas to his cabinet meeting in Gaza, and they prayed together with them. Days afterwards, he released the most dangerous Hamas terrorists back to the streets, and we now are waiting to see the results. And I tell you very frankly, we will take all the means at our disposal to intercept those terrorist attacks, but if they will happen, I will hold not just the terrorists themselves but the Palestinian Authority who released them responsible.
WB: Mr. Prime Minister, the Secretary of State of the United States Madeleine Albright has an article in todays Washington Post, and among other things, she writes this: Palestinians feel victimized, powerless, and believe that their lives count for little. They have suffered immensely with 100 of their own killed, and thousands wounded, among them many children, and lives shattered by the use of deadly force. What a lot of people are asking, including friends of Israel like Madeleine Albright, is why does the Israeli military and police, after all these years of experience, have to use such deadly force in dealing with stone-throwing Palestinian demonstrators? Why is that necessary, given the death toll that has mounted in the past two and a half weeks?
PM: Wolf, you are a professional. Look very carefully into the picture of these demonstrations. We are not in Gaza. We are not in Nablus. Ninety-eight percent of the population are under Palestinian control. We are in a few isolated places. They are sending these innocent incited citizens against those isolated positions. But they send them deliberately, with policemen with weapons and Tanzim people with weapons. And from these very demonstrations they begin to shoot with rifles, and they deliberately take kids, its a crime.
You know, I was as shocked as any human being around the globe by the pictures of this young kid who was caught in the crossfire. But when you ask how did he get there, its not near his school, its not near his home, its near a remote isolated Israeli position. So if Arafat wants to lubricate with the blood of the Palestinian people the bringing back of international attention to his goals, it is legitimate, so to speak, but in a way its away a crime. And its something that should be condemned. He deliberately allowed this demonstration, with weapons, you can see in the pictures, they carry weapons, shooting them.
The real difference in the modern world between a legitimate leader who wants to be a head of state, member of the United Nations, and the head of a gang, is the monopoly on the use and holding of weapons. Any regime, including autocratic regimes in this region, makes sure that they and only they, are responsible for holding weapons, and that they are not used against someone else without a clear-cut order. But if Arafat wants to be a leader, and I hope he will, I hope he will change, he should put an end to it. He should put an end to the phenomenon of policemen shooting from within demonstrations at our soldiers; this means that there is no way to respond with a potential minimal death toll on the other side.
Let me tell you, for example. We launched for the first time last week, Thursday, attacks on five different installations of the Palestinian soldiers after the lynch of our soldiers in Ramallah. In all these five attacks together, that were on your TV as well as on all other screens in the world, there was not a single Palestinian death. We made a deliberately focused attack, we announced in advance what we were going to attack, we made it clear that when the attack is to come we shoot rounds in the vicinity in order to give an early warning, everyone went out, we watched it by drones, and we hit the target only after it became clear that no one would be killed. We cannot even propose to do it all along the confrontation if it continues. But this is the point here. We are making deliberate attempts to avoid, to minimize casualties, where he somehow mourns them and yet at the same time allows it, or even encourages it.
WB: Mr. Prime Minister, we only have a few seconds left. What happens if the Sharm-e-Sheikh summit fails?
PM: I hope it wont fail, but if it fails, we will have to face the realities. And I can repeat it once again, with the same determination, that we struggle to find a way to make pace with them, with the same determination that we will fight for our right to live here as a free, sovereign, democratic, open, pluralistic society within, or inside, this tough neighborhood of the Middle East, and we will fight, and we will expect honest people, honest governments all around the world, to stand by us.
WB: Mr. Prime Minister, I know this is a difficult period for you, but I want to thank you once again for joining us here on Late Edition. Thank you.
PM: Thank you, Wolf.
Interview with Prime Minister Ehud Barak on ABC News: This Week, 15 October 2000 Top
Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Interview with Prime Minister Ehud Barak on ABC News- This Week – 15-Oct-2000.” Accessed from www.mfa.gov.il
Interview with Prime Minister Ehud Barak on ABC News: This Week
15 October 2000
SAM DONALDSON: Seventeen months ago, Ehud Barak became prime minister of Israel, and some would say it’s been downhill for him ever since. His coalition is shattered, his forward looking proposals at Camp David went nowhere, and now he must deal with resumed violence. We sat down with him to talk about all this earlier today. Prime Minister, thanks very much for sitting down with us. Well, what do you expect to come out of this summit tomorrow?
PM BARAK: I hope it will end up with end of violence, certain mechanism — maybe American, Israeli, Palestinians — is to make sure that it will not repeat itself. And we as Israelis expect that the terrorists of Hamas and Islamic Jihad that have just been released by Arafat be put back behind bars, to put an end to the shooting of policemen and Tanzim — the street organization people — not shooting at Israelis or Israeli soldiers, and put an end to incitement and proper dealing or treating of holy cites like the Joseph’s Tomb or the Shalom Israel synagogue [in Jericho].
DONALDSON: Well, in recent days you’ve said Arafat has caused this, Arafat perpetuates the violence, Arafat is no longer a possible partner for peace. How can you sit down with him?
PM BARAK: We are sitting down first of all to put an end to the violence. This is a proper objective, and I repeat it also today. Arafat deliberately launched it in order to attract the attention of the world by paying with the blood of his own people. He’s mourning them as a human being, but he believes that it serves his cause. We are defending ourselves. And the real risk is that by launching this kind of attack, he sends a wave of destabilization all around the region with the unpredictable consequences, and we think that it’s about time to put an end to it.
DONALDSON: Prime Minister, many people were shocked by the brutal murders of Israeli soldiers in Ramallah and elsewhere. But disproportionately about a hundred Palestinians have been killed, and I think the world is shocked by that also. How do you think this is playing in world opinion, a hundred vs. just a few?
PM BARAK: He launched it. He initiated it. All these positions, Israeli positions, are isolated position outside of the city. We are not in Gaza anymore, we are not in Jericho anymore, we are not in Ramallah, and we are not in Nablus. So they — Arafat — are deliberately sending demonstration with a policeman and Tanzim people with rifles on one hand, and they are shooting, as well as 10-years-old kids. This is a crime.
DONALDSON: Prime Minister, of course they say you started it. Saeb Erekat says he and Arafat were in your home two nights before Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount and that they pleaded with you not to allow that visit. You went ahead. Why did you go ahead and allow Sharon to go?
PM BARAK: They were at my private residence, we hosted them. The
rest of it is not true. They didn’t mention it, and they didn’t ask for anything.
DONALDSON: They didn’t ask you not to let General Sharon go?
PM BARAK: No, they didn’t. And beyond that, our Minister of Public Security, who is also the Minister of Foreign affairs, Professor Shlomo Ben-Ami, he talked with the high ranking Palestinian official dealing with security in Jerusalem, the Palestinian aspect of security. He told him Sharon is going to visit. It’s part of the legal right. It’s part of freedom of access to holy cites by everyone. But he asked him, ‘What are your needs?’ And the Palestinians told him, ‘We have only one demand, that he will not enter the mosques.’ Sharon accepted it under protest, but once he accepted it, there is no way, we are open society, it is in the middle of our capital, and we cannot forbid it.
DONALDSON: Saeb Erekat told us that if General Sharon becomes part of your government, it will be the kiss of death for the peace process.
PM BARAK: They have a kind of tendency to turn everything on its head. When the Palestinian invited the leadership of Hamas 10 days ago to a cabinet meeting of Arafat in Gaza, it was a blessing for the peace process. When they release the terrorists who are responsible directly for the murders attacks against civilians, innocent civilians, it’s a blessing. It’s kind of a new momentum to the peace process. And when an Israeli politician that had been elected, like some of your politicians, by about one third of the people of Israel, is visiting a place after all arrangements had been made with Palestinian security, this is a kiss of death? It’s ridiculous.
We are a democracy. Maybe unlike some of our neighbors, we are democracy. There is a will of the people. They elect our parliament and out of the parliament by very simple arithmetics we establish governments. We cannot hang in the air with our government waiting for a change of mindset in Arafat’s head.
DONALDSON: But isn’t it clear, Prime Minister, you’re bringing in General Sharon because you have too, not because you want to? Your government would fall if you didn’t bring him in.
PM BARAK: I’m not sure whether it will fall if I won’t bring him in, but it’s clear that the emergency that Chairman Arafat created, the relationship between us and the Palestinians with certain implications for the stability of this whole region calls for an emergency government in Israel. I’m not sure whether it will be established but I will do my best to establish in Israel the best government to deal with the challenges created by Mr. Arafat. And I am not ready to apologize for applying the rules of democracy in this country.
DONALDSON: General Sharon and the Likud say that the Camp David proposal that you presented, must be cancelled, not just off the table temporarily, but cancelled, period. Do you agree?
PM BARAK: What happened in Camp David was that we were ready to contemplate far-reaching ideas that were raised by President Clinton in an attempt to put end to this conflict, to make peace, and at the same time to prove whether we have a partner. I did it without making any extra concessions. By doing this, I made it possible, if don’t have a peace agreement, for our people at least to be united by the sense of no choice.
We will never lose hope of making peace with our Palestinian neighbors. They are here forever, and we have to make peace with the same people who are demonstrating right now against us. But if the leadership is not right now, leadership can change, leadership can change its mind, open its eyes, or being replaced. We will make peace with the Palestinian people, but until then we’ll stand firm on our right to live here as a free sovereign open democratic society and we will not yield to violence. And we expect the rest of the world to stand by us in this kind of endeavor.
DONALDSON: But, sir, it sounds to me like you’re saying your proposals are shelved in your mind until the time is right. I’m asking you whether they’re going to be cancelled. General Sharon insists they be cancelled. He thinks you were making concessions.
PM BARAK: General Sharon insists somehow on taking the blame upon us for closing the opening for peace, and for obvious reasons, I am not ready to do it. Technically, there are no such commitments. We didn’t put them on paper. We agreed in advance that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, and President Clinton as well as myself have said at the end of Camp David that all the ideas — they are not even concessions or commitments — all the ideas that were arrived at are null and void. So formally they are null and void. Practically, no one forgets them, but they are not on the table since Arafat refused to take them as basis for negotiations. So the responsibility is now with Arafat, and I do not accept the suggestion of General Sharon that we will take the responsibility.
DONALDSON: But you may raise those proposals again?
PM BARAK: I cannot predict what shape the peace process will take in the future. It is no secret that the imprint of the last few weeks will leave some scars on the collective psyche of Israelis, as well as Palestinians. It won’t be easy to resume it, but I’m confident that somehow, ultimately, it will be resumed. But we will never yield to violence, and we will stand firm and united to the extent possible defending the essence of our rights.
Interview with head of Hamas Political Bureau Khalid Mish’al, 17 October 2000 Top
Source: BBC Monitoring Middle East, “Mideast: Hamas leader says Sharm al-Shaykh agreement a farce,” 17 October 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic on 25 September 2012.
Text of telephone interview with Khalid Mish’al, head of HAMAS Political Bureau, in Damascus; by Jamal Rayyan in the studio; broadcast live by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 17th October
Rayyan We have Khalid Mish’al, head of Hamas Political Bureau, on the telephone with us from Damascus. Khalid Mish’al, we continue to see more martyrs after the agreement. Libyan leader Col Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi revealed the final statement of the next Arab summit a short while ago on Al-Jazeera channel. What is your view on the situation?
Mish’al In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. After their full trust in Almighty God, the Palestinian people are only bettong on their blessed intifadah, their efforts and the support of Arab and Islamic peoples, who showed great readiness over the past days to extend support. These are the real stakes.
Certainly, we do not bet on the Americans who brought the Palestinian side and some Arab parties to Sharm al-Shaykh summit. We do not bet on the humanitarian feelings of the Zionist enemy because this enemy is a criminal, and we should never expect anything good from such an enemy. However, the Arab summit, regardless of whether we bet on it or not, should shoulder a great and clear responsibility.
Clinton wanted to abort the intifadah through Sharm al-Shaykh summit. He also wanted to abort the Arab summit and restrict its potential before it is even convened. We are asking this summit to support the Palestinian people’s choice. Arab leaders should not pay attention to, or be influenced by Sharm al-Shaykh resolutions, which are in Baraq’s favour. Baraq returned happy because he realized what he wanted, but the Palestinian people did not realize anything. Baraq wanted to stop the intifadah and to resume security coordination and cooperation. Regrettably, the PNA gave a pledge to do so. It was even coordinating and cooperatiing with it before the agreement. For your information, CIA Director George Tenet was the one who drafted the security agreements at Sharm al-Shaykh. The Palestinian people have not gained anything.
The objective of the blessed intifadah was not the setting up of an commission of inquiry or anything like that. Its objective has been, and still continues to be, to defeat the occupation because the latter is the source of all evils and our people’s suffering.
Q What is Hamas’s next step in the light of these developments?
A Sharm al-Shaykh resolutions are only binding on those who made them. They are not binding on the Palestinian people, the Palestinian forces or the masses of the nation. Therefore, our people’s position is to continue the intifadah. Hamas, along with various forces, will continue the intifadah and will adhere to the national unity on the basis of confronting the Zionist enemy.
It has practically proven that returning to negotiations will be fruitless and will not restore the Palestinian people’s rights. The real option as you see in the satellite channels, in all opinion polls and in the voices of women, elderly people and children in Palestine, and in the Palestinian and Islamic streets, is the continuation of the intifadah and popular resistance. This is what will force the enemy to bow.
However, Arabs, Muslims, rulers and Arab countries are called upon to make important decisions. We ask the Arab summit only to support the intifadah and to give the option of popular resistance in which Arab and Islamic peoples would join the Palestinian people After this, we can expect a victory for the people and defeat for the enemy. As for betting on resumption of the negotiations – pause Even the detailed demands, which are marginal ones, presented by the PNA have not been realized. They wanted an international inquiry commission. This commission has changed into a fact-finding committee.
This summit has even failed to speak about how the incidents began, and that they were started by Sharon’s provocation and his visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque. Even with the demand for ending the siege, the summit gave the Zionist side 48 hours to decide whether Arafat was committed to arresting Hamas leaders and members, whether he was committed to stopping the intifadah, and whether he was committed to disarming Fatah members. In fact, Sharm al-Shaykh is a farce, and the nation has to correct the mistake at the next Arab summit.
Interview with Hamas political leader Isma’il Abu-Shanab, 20 October 2000 Top
Source: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, “Hamas official on threat of ‘uprising against Arafat, retaliation against,” 23 October 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic on 25 September 2012.
Text of live telephone interview with Isma’il Abu-Shanab, member of the political leadership of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, in Gaza by Jumanah Nammur broadcast by Qatari
Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 20th October
[Nammur] Shaykh Yasin has threatened that an uprising [Arabic: intifadah] will be staged against the Palestinian [National] Authority [PNA] if Hamas members are rearrested. Are there any indications that the PNA will arrest Hamas members who have been released?
[Abu-Shanab] In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. First, I would like to correct something: Shaykh Ahmad Yasin did not and will not call for any confrontations with the authority. In all his statements, Shaykh Yasin has called for confronting the occupation. And this is the strategy of the movement.
We believe that our real battle is against occupation. However, as long as there are detainees the movement will continue to hold dialogue with the authority to release them, as well as to stop any measures against them.
[Q] We want you to explain something: Shaykh Yasin warned of an uprising against the authority if the detainees are not released. Is he talking about a new uprising? Or does he believe that Hamas is the party that leads the uprising and that it can lead it against the authority if the detainees are not released? Would you explain this?
[A] The file of political prisoners is the cause of tension on the Palestinian street. We have always called for closing this file. All national and Islamic forces have called on the authority to close this file. I can say that we are close to shelving this file, hoping that the file will be closed in the coming stage.
[Q] We have heard Hamas threatening to carry out jihad operations inside Israel? What has Hamas done on the ground now that the circumstances are appropriate?
[A] Military action is the responsibility of the military wing. This military wing, which has suffered from blows, is now given a free hand to retaliate. Therefore, we should give it time to reorganize itself and to select the appropriate targets. The military wing does not carry out its operations only when there is a popular uprising; it carries out its operations after careful planning and study.
We leave this matter to the military wing, which is known for its retaliation and credibility. God willing, the retaliation will be soon. We do not intervene in the affairs of the military wing.
However, all the Palestinian people are angry; and this anger, God willing, will produce the retaliation that will deter Israel and force it to withdraw.
Interview with Hamas founder Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, 22 October 2000 Top
Source: BBC Monitoring Middle East, “Hamas founder criticizes Arab summit resolutions, says intifadah to continue,” 23 October 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic on 25 September 2012.
Excerpts from telephone interview with Hamas founder and leader Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, in Gaza, by presenter Ali al-Mismar in Al-Manar Television studio in Beirut; broadcast live by Lebanese Hezbollah TV on 22nd October
Al-Mismar Your eminence Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, good evening.
Yasin Good evening to you.
Q What do you think, your eminence, of the resolutions of the Arab summit? Were they up to the hopes of the Palestinian people?
A In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. The resolutions of the emergency Arab summit were not up to the responsibility and they did not rise to the level of the confrontation with the Zionist enemy. They frustrated the hopes of the Palestinian and Arab street. We expected the summit to sever all relations with the Zionist enemy – all representations, all economic ties – and to end normalization. But regrettably, the results were not up to the responsibility. We had hoped the summit would announce its support for the Palestinian fighters and resistance men with money and weapons. We had hoped the summit would declare economic boycott against the United States and use the resources of the Arab nation in this confrontation with the Zionist enemy. The summit, however, has some positive aspects, including the establishment of the Jerusalem fund, the sponsorship of martyrs’ families and the support for the intifadah. These are positive things that we hope will develop in future meetings.
Q Your eminence Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, how is the Palestinian public going to react to these resolutions, especially as they did not meet the minimum requirements, as you said?
A The Palestinian people know their way very well. They are facing a ruthless enemy with formidable capabilities. But despite this enemy power, the Palestinian people, I stress to you, are stronger than (?them), stronger with their men, women, and young men, with their belief in God and their rights, and with their belief that they will ultimately triumph. The Palestinian people, therefore, will continue to confront the Israeli enemy (words indistinct) power and confrontation as was proved in south Lebanon. The Zionist enemy, which is today talking about peace, is far from peace. It is now heading towards the formation of a war government, not a peace government. It views peace as nonsense; it seeks domination and hegemony over the region and its resources, the resources of our Arab and Islamic nation. We had hoped the summit would rise to this level and address this Israeli aggression, which targets not only Palestine but also the Arab and Islamic world.
Q You said, your eminence, that the intifadah, God willing, will continue. Are you going to use any new methods in this intifadah?
A The intifadah today is a stone-throwing intifadah. I say that it must develop into an armed intifadah to confront the Israeli enemy in the same way this enemy is facing our people… But the equation today is that we are being slain and the enemy is not being slain. We want the equation to be right, to slay and be slain, and to continue with our jihad until we extract our rights, until victory and liberation, God willing.
Q My last question, Shaykh Ahmad Yasin. Ehud Baraq announced a time-out in the settlement process. What is Hamas’s comment on this announcement?…
A First of all, the settlement process is already over. Baraq’s missiles, planes, and bombs have killed this settlement; it put the last nail in the settlement’s coffin. There is no settlement. There is despotism, a strong party that wants to impose its will on the Palestinian people. But the Palestinian people, in all their factions and groups at home and in the diaspora, in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza, and inside the Green Line (Israel proper , refuse to surrender to Israel and to raise the white flag. We will fight, God willing, until we prevail and liberate all our national soil. Their power will not intimidate us because they fear death while we love it. Those who love death are the ones who are stronger and the ones who will prevail, God willing.
Statement by Hamas official spokesman Ibrahim Ghawshah, 23 October 2000 Top
Source: BBC Monitoring Middle East, “Jordan: Hamas spokesman lauds intifadah, urges release of detainees,” 23 October 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic on 25 September 2012.
Text of report by Jordanian weekly ‘Al-Majd’ on 23rd October
Engineer Ibrahim Ghawshah, official spokesman for the Hamas Movement, has lauded the fact that the Al-Aqsa Intifadah entered its fourth week. He also greeted the steadfastness of the Palestinian people, led by the new generation of boys and girls who are confronting the sophisticated Zionist war machine with their bare chests and stones only, thus prompting the Arab nation from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf to speak up and wake up from its lengthy sleep.
In statements to Al-Majd’ via telephone yesterday, Sunday, Ghawshah said that Ariel Sharon, the messenger of Baraq, actually touched on a sensitive religious spot at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, so the Arab nation rose everywhere to defend and redeem this mosque. He also emphasized that this religious revolution should not be contained, whether by the Sharm al-Shaykh conference or by the Arab summit, nor should it be derailed by naming it “the intifadah of independence” because it actually began as the Al-Aqsa intifadah and will continue to be so until the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, all of Jerusalem, and all of Palestine are liberated.
He added: In fact, the Al-Aqsa intifadah has been a revolution against Zionist occupation, Arab and Islamic helplessness, the Egyptian Camp David agreement, the Jordanian Wadi al-Arabah agreement, and the Palestinian Oslo agreement. This intifadah has also issued an open call for closing the ranks, opening the borders to the Arabs and Muslims, and enabling them to perform the duty of jihad.
Moreover, Ghawshah said: There is a clear contrast between the Hamas Movement’s political approach to the current intifadah, represented by seriously working to turn it into an effective confrontational case resembling the experience of the Lebanese resistance, on the one hand, and Arafat’s policy, which Muhammad Dahlan revealed in a televised interview with Orbit’s second channel, on the other. Dahlan disclosed that Arafat seeks to exploit the intifadah in order to improve the conditions of the coming negotiations and receive a political price for the intifadah’s victims and wounded people.
He added: It is really shameful for the Arab summit to convene at a time when Israel’s flag is still fluttering in some Arab capitals. Is not the fall of more than 120 martyrs, one-third of whom were children, and the wounding of more than 4,000 people enough to remove this stinking Zionist presence from the Arab atmosphere? Are the huge Arab and Islamic armies really unable to put a bomb or a machine gun in the hands of Palestinian youths, instead of a stone, so that they can confront Zionist snipers, who regrettably hunt these youths like birds everyday?
Ghawshah said that the following question is now posed: “Where is Hamas and the Al-Qassam Battalions?” In fact, we bitterly say that Hamas and the Al-Qassam Battalions have experienced seven hard years in the wake of the Oslo agreement. During these years, the Hamas Movement was subjected to all kinds of pursuit and conspiracy by the Zionists, the United States, and the self-rule authority. All these parties joined forces to deprive the Al-Qassam Battalions of their weapons and destroy their infrastructure.
He also pointed out that Dr Abd-al-Aziz al-Rantisi and his brethren were released from jail for one day only, after which the self-rule authority returned them to jail amid an extreme insistence by Baraq, Clinton, Cook and others. In addition, Hamas leaders in Jordan were arrested, and Hamas offices there were closed. These leaders were later deported from Jordan, one month after Baraq assumed power.
The official spokesman for Hamas also recalled that the Al-Qassam Battalions, which previously promised to retaliate for the massacre the Zionists committed at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron on 25th April 1994, actually fulfilled this promise by carrying out five operations before the self-rule authority assumed power. These operations were carried out in Hadera, Nahariyya and Yafo Street in Jerusalem, in addition to kidnapping an Israeli soldier named Wachsman and exploding the Dizengoff Street at the heart of Tel Aviv.
He added: But after the self-rule authority assumed power and achieved security cooperation with the Zionists, many commanders of the Al-Qassam Battalions were liquidated, such as Kamal Kuhayl, Yahya Ayyash, Muhyi-al-Din al-Sharif, and the two brothers Imad and Adil Awad. In addition, Muhammad al-Dayf and Mahmud Abu-Hannud were later arrested.
Ghawshah continued: Worse yet, some senior officials in the self-rule authority, who took part in pursuing Hamas, are wondering: “Where are the Al-Qassam Battalions?” In response, we tell these officials: Release Al-Dayf, Abu-Hannud, and the rest of their brethren. Give them freedom of movement and action, and supply them with 100 rifles only. Afterward, ask the Al-Qassam Battalions to submit a statement of account in terms of avenging the blood of Muhammad al-Durrah and his brother martyrs.
Hamas statement, 26 October 2000 Top
Source: BBC Monitoring Middle East, “Hamas statement condemns Palestinian-Israeli security meetings,” 27 October 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic, 25 September 2012.
Text of “Statement No 12 on the blessed Al-Aqsa intifadah: The intifadah is continuing. the rockets and tanks of the enemy do not intimidate our people” carried on the Hamas web site on 26th October
Our struggling Palestinian people, Our Arab and Islamic nation: These are days of jihad, resistance, and steadfastness. They are days of pride and dignity; days of martyrs and martyrdom feasts. These are days of Palestinian, Arab, and Islamic anger at the Zionist aggression and occupation. These are days of the living Arab and Islamic peoples, which confirm every day that Palestine is the issue of the entire nation and that Al-Aqsa is a trust held by all Muslims worldwide, who yearn for jihad to liberate it from the filth of usurpers.
The barbaric Zionist aggression against our people is continuing. The rockets and tanks bombard our cities and villages every day. Our people are facing this by unbending steadfastness and determination to pursue the road till the very end, whatever the obstacles and no matter how costly the sacrifices are.
The Arab summit concluded by adopting resolutions that do not live up to the demands of our people and nation. However, we appreciate the stands of some countries and the support of the brothers in Saudi Arabia for setting up two funds to support Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa and the families of the martyrs.
Once again, the Palestinian National Authority PNA is holding security meetings with the Zionist occupiers before the blood of the martyrs dries, amid our people’s anger and dismay at this step.
Our Palestinian people, Our Arab and Islamic nation: We in the Islamic Resistance Movement,
Hamas, affirm the following:
First, on the Palestinian level:
1. We assert the continuation of the intifadah of the holy Al-Aqsa and escalating it by all possible means to defeat the occupation, protect Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, and wrest our people’s inalienable rights.
2. For the 28th day running, the siege and curfew imposed by the forces of the criminal enemy have continued against more than 50,000 of our heroic people in the valiant city of Hebron. A thousand greetings to those heroes, who have maintained their steadfastness and a thousand greetings to the sons of our people in the city of Hebron and its neighbouring cities and villages, which sent food and supplies for the besieged. We call upon the sons of our people to continue to support the besieged, stage marches to show solidarity with them, and work to lift the siege imposed on them.
3. We hail our steadfast people in all the cities, villages, and camps, who challenged the bombardment of the enemy and its terrorism; challenged the herds of settlers, who are armed to the teeth, and who showed the whole world that our struggling people are not intimidated by rockets and tanks.
4. We call on the sons of our people to assist and help the families of the martyrs and the wounded, supply them with what they need, and see how they are doing. We also ask our people to visit the families of labourers, who were forced to stop working because of the siege imposed on our people by the enemy. We urge the affluent sons of our people to donate money. The aid that arrives to our people from abroad is not enough to meet the requirements of the intifadah and its consequences.
5. We stress the unity of our people, in all their forces and trends, in the face of the Zionist enemy and in the activities of the Al-Aqsa intifadah. We urge the PNA to release the prisoners immediately. It is unreasonable that those people should remain in prison in line with PNA commitments towards the enemy, at a time when this enemy is bombarding our people with rockets and suspending the humiliating settlement agreements.
6. We denounce the PNA’s holding of security meetings with Zionist security officers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, under the sponsorship and supervision of CIA security officers, to abort the intifadah of Al-Aqsa. We affirm that our people view the PNA’s holding of such meetings with great dismay and anger, since these meetings disavow the blood of the martyrs and wounded and conflict with the will and positions of our people.
7. We ask the chairman of the PNA to refuse to meet with Clinton, since this meeting and the ones that preceded it in Paris and Sharm al-Shaykh aim at achieving the demands of the United States and the Jews; namely, to abort the Al-Aqsa intifadah, restore security coordination with the enemy, and make the PNA accept Baraq’s dictates and conditions.
8. Hamas’s concern about national unity has made it disregard the fact that some armed men of the Fatah movement drew their weapons in the face of one of the Hamas leaders in Nablus during one of the marches. We ask the Fatah movement to condemn this action and to punish its elements who are responsible for it.
9. We appeal to the sons of our people and all able people to carry out voluntary work and help the farmers in picking olives, especially in the light of the Zionist attacks against them and the vandalism of their farms.
Second, on the Arab and Islamic level:
1. We hail the sons of our Palestinian and Jordanian people, who staged the march of return, in their tens of thousands, to assert the right of our Palestinian people in the diaspora and in exile to return to their homeland, no matter how long this takes, and to express solidarity with the Al-Aqsa intifadah and the sons of our people. We denounce the Jordanian security agencies’ suppression of the march and using violence to disperse the demonstrators. We hail the Arab and Islamic masses and communities, which have continued activities of solidarity with our people and to champion Al-Aqsa. We appeal to all peoples and forces to continue to denounce Zionist massacres.
2. The results of the emergency Arab summit have disappointed the hopes of our people and Arab peoples, which demanded severing ties with the Zionist enemy, expelling Zionist ambassadors, and closing Zionist embassies and representation offices. The Arab peoples have also demanded resolutions that support our people’s intifadah and their jihad in the face of the Zionist aggression. The summit resolutions do not represent Arab peoples, which have expressed their anger at the weak results of the summit and asserted their solidarity with and strong support for our people and their jihad, as well as their clinging to Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa. The Arab people have also demanded opening the doors of jihad against the Jewish occupiers.
3. We appreciate the Arab countries which severed their relations with the enemy and closed the Zionist representation offices. We call on Egypt and Jordan – today marks the anniversary of the infamous Israeli-Jordanian Wadi al-Arabah agreement – and the rest of the countries that set up hateful relations with the enemy to respond to the demand of the masses and sever their ties with this enemy, expel its ambassadors, and close its embassies. These embassies are considered dens for spying and conspiring on the interests of Arab peoples.
4. We urge the Arab and Islamic media, especially the satellite channels, to continue their distinguished role in covering the Al-Aqsa intifadah, highlighting the enemy’s crimes, and showing the suffering of our people and the savage suppression and aggression they are facing at the hands of the gangs of the enemy’s army and the herds of settlers. We hail all the mass media, which dedicated all their resources and programmes towards serving the Al-Aqsa intifadah and championing our people.
Third, the activities:
1. Let Fridays be days of revenge and rage and sweeping popular confrontations with the enemy’s army and the herds of settlers. Let angry marches be staged from all mosques after the Friday prayer.
2. We appeal to our people in Jerusalem and the 1948-occupied Palestine, and all those who can reach Al-Aqsa Mosque, to be present at the mosque and pray there to prevent the Jews from getting near it and to assert the right of our people and nation to Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa.
We also ask them to be prepared for defending and protecting Al-Aqsa by their blood and souls.
3. Sunday, 29th October, marks the anniversary of the tripartite aggression against Egypt and the anniversary of the Kfar Qasim massacre. Let that day be one of escalation and confrontations with the enemy and the herds of settlers.
4. Let Monday, 30th October, be Martyr Day, during which the masses of our people will go to the homes of the families of martyrs to honour them, show solidarity with them, and side by them. On that day also, our people should visit the graves to read the first chapter of the Koran to invoke mercy for the martyrs. Our people should also hang the pictures of martyrs everywhere as a sign of loyalty to them and a pledge to pursue their path.
5. Let Thursday, 2nd November, be a day of special and comprehensive escalation everywhere on the anniversary of the infamous Balfour Declaration, and let women and children stage marches on that day in denunciation of the Balfour Declaration and to assert our people’s adherence to their soil and right.
God is great and victory to our struggling people.
The Islamic Resistance Movement
Thursday, 28th Rajab 1421 AH, corresponding to 26th October 2000
Interview with Hamas Political Bureau Member Mus Abu Arzuq, 28 October 2000 Top
Source: BBC Monitoring Middle East, “Intifadah only way to liberate Palestinians, says Hamas official to Iranian TV,” 28 October 2000. Accessed from LexisNexis Academic, 25 September 2012.
Text of report by Iranian TV on 28th October
A member of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Musa Abu Marzuq, in an interview with our correspondent, said: The intifadah is the only way to liberate the oppressed people of Palestine.
Unidentified correspondent – recording A member of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Musa Abu Marzuq, in an interview with us, analysed the results of the meetings of the heads of Arab countries, held in Cairo, and their possible effects on the Palestinian movement. He said that the statement issued by the conference contrasted greatly with the goals of the Palestinian people and the wishes of other Islamic nations.
He commented: Islamic nations expected the conference not to follow America’s lead and to give its unequivocal support, instead, to the intifadah and sever all relations with Israel. The goals of the Islamic nations had been based on this idea. However, they heads of Arab nations not only failed to act along this line but, unfortunately, they followed the path of compromise pejorative reference to Middle east peace process . Dealing from such a position of weakness resulted in putting further pressure on the oppressed people of Palestine.
Abu Marzuq continued: The real peace can only be obtained through the annihilation of Israel. He said that Israel defines peace as a tranquil existence within the heart of the Islamic nations and without restoring the rights of those whom it has oppressed. If it Israel gets a chance it will attack those countries which, because of their weakness, have signed peace agreements with it. It will, once again, attempt to occupy those lands. It is therefore, surprising, to see the Arab countries, in an attempt to calm the situation down, would refer to the United Nations and America instead of taking some actions themselves.
This member of the Political Bureau of Hamas believes that the only way to rescue the Palestinian nation is through resistance and jihad. He added: As Imam Khomeyni said the Zionist regime is a cancerous tumour which must be removed from the region because it is the cause of all the sufferings in the area.
This Palestinian combatant added: A nation with such a leader as Ayatollah Khamene’i who believes that Palestine must be returned to the Muslims and Israel should be annihilated is a nation which believes that Palestine can only be liberated through Islamic thoughts and the Koran. Palestinians, have, therefore, chosen the path of resistance and jihad and defend their sacred beliefs even if the price is martyrdom.
Address by Prime Minister Ehud Barak on the Fifth Anniversary of the Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, 8 November 2000 Top
Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Address by PM Barak on the Fifth Anniversary of the Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, 08-Nov-2000.” Accessed from www.mfa.gov.il
Address by Prime Minister Ehud Barak on the Fifth Anniversary of the Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin
November 8, 2000
With longing for Yitzhak, the man, and with a deep sense of sobriety, given the circumstances of the day, we are marking the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in the shadow of a wave of violence instigated by the Palestinians on Rosh Hashanah. This morning a young Israeli woman, Noa Dahan, was murdered near Rafah by Palestinian gunfire, and last night gunfire was again aimed at the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem. This situation cannot continue. Israel will put an end to it by political or other means. I would like to hope that the meetings scheduled in Washington with the president of the United States in the coming days will bring about a cessation of the violence and the full implementation of the Sharm e-Sheikh understandings.
The violence will not accomplish anything. It will not alter our policy, and it will not weaken our determination to attain peace and security for Israel. We stand, and will continue to stand, clear-eyed and united before the challenges that face us and fully committed to our purpose. In my remarks this evening, I wish to present to you the main principles of Israel’s policy of peace and security, which is the continuation of the course inaugurated by Yitzhak Rabin with certain adjustments demanded by the change in circumstances over time.
The gist of our vision is a Zionist, Jewish, and democratic state living in security and peace with its neighbors; a “model society” that affords its citizens social justice, economic prosperity, and safety; a state living in coexistence, cooperation, and amicable relations with all its neighbors. This has been our dream for generations, and it is the essence of the Zionist vision. The means for realizing it is the one determined by Yitzhak Rabin: concluding agreements for peace and security with our neighbors – above all with the Palestinian national movement. This is the political and strategic aim we are striving for. We are operating within a dynamic arena that is fraught with danger and within a fleeting window of opportunity. Israel’s security and future demand that we exhaust every possibility to achieve a state of peace and security with our neighbors before, heaven forbid, the skies of the region are dimmed by a tide of terrorism and the use of nonconventional weaponry. This is precisely what I promised to do. This is precisely what I have done. I never committed myself to anything beyond that.
Peace has a high and painful price that we must be prepared to bear. But we are not prepared to entertain the notion of peace at any price or at the price of capitulation and self-abnegation. It takes two to make peace, just as it does to tango. If the other side does not want to dance, we cannot tango alone. Violence, by contrast, requires the initiative of one side only.
We have no reason to take ourselves to task. We made a supreme effort, going as far as we could to achieve peace – and we brought it within reach. We have not actually conceded anything, since a peace agreement has not yet been concluded, and we will not abandon the effort to overcome the obstacles that remain on the path to peace. Peace will come. But it will not be attained through capitulation or by one side vanquishing the other. Neither will it be achieved by fiat or the exercise of force on our part, or through imposition on us by the international community.
The violence that has been forced upon us in the past weeks has a purpose: to generate support and make political and propaganda capital out of turmoil and the use of force. The arena of confrontation extends from the streets to television screens the world over. In this struggle, mobilizing international public opinion is no less important than tactical victories in the field. And with this in mind, the other side is making calculated, even cynical, use of teenagers and children, sending them out to clash with our soldiers in front of the cameras. In a situation of this kind, our political and military leaders must maintain their equanimity and exercise responsible judgment in order to produce a suitable response that will put an end to the violence while simultaneously protecting the lives, maintaining the morale, and preserving the unity of our citizenry in order to prevent the erosion of our staying power. At the same time, we must be careful not to play into the hands of our foes. That means we must reduce the risk of a regional conflagration, boost Israel’s standing in the world, and stick to the strategic objective of achieving peace.
This struggle demands, above all else, restraint, self-control, and the intelligent use of military force. A rash or impulsive response may spark a frenzy of violence that rages out of control. Some of the criticism and “good advice” being voiced in political quarters ranges from impolitic to irresponsible.
On my instructions, and in coordination with the chief of staff, the IDF has been combating the violence with prudence, operational skill, and maximum restraint. The commanders and soldiers in the field deserve praise for their professional, responsible and moral conduct. With your permission, I would like to make an appeal directly to our Palestinian neighbors on this special day. Today the State of Israel remembers with love a great leader who paved the way to peace with you, the Palestinian people, and – so tragically for us – paid for that with his life. Faithful to Yitzhak Rabin’s endeavor, we want to make peace with you – a peace of honor and neighborliness, a “peace of the brave”, a peace that has no losers, only winners.
The wave of violence you have launched has caused suffering and loss to us both. This violence is unnecessary, pointless, and unjustified. It can achieve nothing that cannot be attained at the negotiating table without violence. It has served only to damage the basis of trust between us, and it has created obstacles precisely at a time when a genuine chance for breakthrough toward solving the century-long conflict between us was, for the first time, in sight. You should be aware that there will be no surrender to violence; that violence will not prevail. It begets only losers, on your side and on ours. We cannot bring back its victims; but we can still save those who may be victims to come, who are still among us today, young and well and eager to live. Let us spare them. Let us spare their families – Palestinian and Israeli – the terrible bereavement that knows no remedy, because neither of our peoples will be forgiven if we fail to do so. This was Yitzhak Rabin’s credo, and we stand committed to it. But now it is up to you, because you chose the path of violence, and it is you who must forswear it. There is no such thing as “harmless violence.” There is no such thing as “partial violence.” There is no such thing as “legitimate violence.” There is no violence without response, and there is certainly no such thing as “peaceful violence.” Violence is the antithesis of peace, and it cannot be a component of the peace process.
You, the Palestinian people, will be our neighbors forever, as we will be yours. Many Israelis appreciate and respect your desire to be the masters of your fate and to exercise your legitimate rights – as long as you do not deny our right to exist and as long as you eschew violence, incitement, and the fomenting of hatred toward us. But respect and understanding do not always mean agreement, and they certainly do not mean self-denial. Both our peoples have aspirations, rights, and legitimate interests, some of which are inimical to each other. Both have dreams and desires, some of which are incompatible. The tragic clash between our sense of justice and yours has led to tragedy and great suffering for your people and ours. Tens of thousands of homes have known bereavement as a result of our wars. We have no desire to rule over you or to deprive you of your expression of self-determination. Much to the contrary, it is our desire to reconcile our differences and achieve a historic compromise in which both sides will have to relinquish part of their dream in order to make room for the other to realize his most fervent desire. Only a compromise of that sort will enable us to bequeath our children a future free of enmity and bloodshed, so that they may prosper and live out their lives in liberty, security, and peace of mind.
There is only one way to achieve this: by renouncing violence and conducting free, direct, open, serious, and creative negotiations. The true resolution of the conflict between us will be attained not by fiat, force, or international intervention but as the result of a fair and cogent compromise between the desires and interests of our two peoples. This was Yitzhak Rabin’s credo, and it remains ours. It is the best course toward our shared future in this land, toward our children’s future. We must not abandon it. Now is the time – there is not a minute to spare – to resume our pursuit of it, with courage and determination, until we achieve peace.
In June 1967 Lieutenant-General Yitzhak Rabin led the Israel Defense Forces in the most celebrated military operation in our history. The State of Israel embarked upon the Six-Day War in order to defend its existence and obtain security, not to acquire territory. On June 9, 1967, a week after the war had ended, the national unity government headed by Levi Eshkol (which included Menachem Begin) voted to propose to Egypt and Syria that peace accords based on Israel’s withdrawal to the respective international borders and the adoption of security arrangements. This proposal was conveyed to the U.S. government by Foreign Minister Abba Eban. A few days later, the United States relayed the Syrian and Egyptian replies to Israel. They adamantly rejected the Israeli proposal and demanded Israel’s unconditional withdrawal from the territory it had captured during the fighting. Thereafter, these replies were reinforced by the “three noes” of the Arab summit meeting at Khartoum: “No recognition, no negotiations, no peace with Israel.”
The IDF’s victory in the Six-Day War, under Rabin’s command, was so intoxicatingly powerful that it propelled many good folk among us into the realm of dreams – to parts of the homeland from which we had been separated by a hostile border and to which we returned, in the words of the psalmist, “like dreamers.” The settlement enterprise in Judea, Samaria, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights was spearheaded by young idealists brimming with conviction (many of them followers of the Labor and religious-Zionist movements). It was a natural expression of our love for and historic bond with this land, which has been our patrimony and homeland since antiquity.
As long as peace with our neighbors was merely a dream, and any chance of it coming true was improbable because of Arab intransigence, it was possible to ignore the need to compromise and cling to the belief that the dream would always prevail over reality. The first shock came with the withdrawal from Sinai to the international border: the evacuation of the Yamit area and of Ofira at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula at the beginning of the 1980s, in the framework of the peace treaty with Egypt. But the autonomy plan appended to that agreement was not carried out due to the opposition of the Palestinians, who were similarly held in thrall by a dream that was the mirror image of our own.
The delay in initiating talks with the Palestinians accelerated the creation of “facts on the ground,” some of which are incongruent with a realistically contoured final and peacetime border for the State of Israel. Coming to grips with reality has been a gradual and difficult process, for both sides, though in the course of time we have grown wiser and so have they. Today we know that the road to peace is littered with the scraps of shattered dreams, and that the vision of the Greater Land of Israel, like that of an undivided Palestine, is bound to remain a dream. If it wishes to attain peace and preserve its character as a democratic, Jewish state, Israel cannot retain all the territory it captured in 1967 and rule over another people. There is no longer any genuine debate between the right and left in Israel over the imperative of a far-reaching and painful compromise with the Palestinians. The only disagreement is over how far that compromise must go in order for it to yield peace. The decisive majority of Israel’s citizens accept the principle that the territories conquered by the IDF in 1967, under the command of Yitzhak Rabin, are in part being held in trust until the conclusion of peace treaties through negotiations with our neighbors. This is a return to the original aim of the Six-Day War as a battle for survival. But the substantive and fundamental disagreement was then, and remains, between Israel and the Palestinians.
Four points of contention between Israel and the Palestinians were deliberated at Camp David: borders, security arrangements, the refugees, and Jerusalem.
The Palestinian position on the final borders is well known: they demand that Israel withdraw to the 1967 frontier. This position is based on the Palestinians’ interpretation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 (a reading we do not accept) and on the precedent of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty (which we deem irrelevant to this case). The negotiations at Camp David outlined a possible accommodation on this issue: The borders will be determined to no small degree by the contours of Jewish settlement that have evolved over the years (and this will be the historic achievement of the settlement enterprise in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza). An absolute majority of the Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria will be embraced by settlement clusters that will come under Israeli sovereignty, while the areas that come under Palestinian sovereignty will be contiguous, and every effort will be made to satisfy the prime Palestinian demands.
The second issue, which is closely related to that of borders, is security arrangements. Israel requires a security and settlement presence along the Jordan River. Whoever believes that “peace is security,” so that there is no need for special security arrangements in peacetime, has no idea of where he’s living. The State of Israel stands, with its back to the sea, facing on a region that is volatile, armed, and awash with advanced weaponry – a region with a history of instability that is seething with treacherous currents. Suffice it to mention the unforeseen revolution in Iran, Saddam Hussein’s sudden descent upon his sister state of Kuwait, the calls heard even at the recent Arab summit for a “holy war” against Israel, and the Palestinian Authority’s abrupt volte-face from negotiation and near-agreement to violent confrontation.
Israel’s security border must run along the Jordan River, with full demilitarization (except for light weapons) of the areas evacuated by the IDF and the institution of arrangements for inspection and control, access and movement. In this vital sphere, as well, significant progress was made at Camp David on reconciling Israel’s security needs with the Palestinians’ demands.
We should keep in mind that signing a peace treaty is not the equivalent of waving a magic wand that makes all risks disappear. And we must we wary of deluding ourselves about where the Palestinians and the other Arabs stand. One school is prepared to accept Israel’s existence – though not the justice of its creation – and it is on this core group that the peace-making effort is based. (The assumption was that it included Yasser Arafat. But not everyone in Israel is convinced of this, and the latest events have done nothing to substantiate this premise.) Yet there are also rival schools in the Arab world, ranging from the proponents of the “doctrine of stages” – whereby each successive agreement with Israel is regarded as another stage toward the restoration of “all Palestinian rights” until Israel as a Jewish and Zionist entity is ultimately eliminated – to those who oppose any accommodation and demand an incessant “holy war” until Israel is destroyed and all the Jews are removed from the soil of Palestine.
Even the Palestinians’ resignation to Israel’s existence has not been internalized at a normative level. The Palestinian educational system, media, religious leadership and preachers in mosques continue to foment abysmal hatred for the State of Israel, Zionism, and the Jews as a nation. These truths should not make us despair of bringing about change and attaining peace, because there is no substitute for peace. What they do demand of us is realism, forbearance, and primarily the preservation of Israel’s might and qualitative edge, as well as insistence upon rigorous security arrangements as part of any peace agreement. The third issue – that of the refugees – is a tougher one to solve because of the long-cultivated myth of “return” that holds the Palestinians in its thrall, the prolonging of hardship in the refugee camps, and a half century of dependence on international aid that stopped short of any rehabilitation effort.
Anyone even vaguely familiar with the conflict can understand that the demand to acknowledge the 1948 Palestinian refugees’ “right of return” is an unrealistic one, and there’s no chance whatever that Israel will accede to it. (Israel will not accept any responsibility, legal or moral, for the creation of the refugee problem. It should be recalled that this problem arose as a result of a war initiated by the Arabs because of their rejection of the 1947 U.N. partition resolution and their declared intention to destroy the Jewish community of Palestine and crush the State of Israel at its birth. After that war, Israel absorbed an even greater number of destitute Jews from Arab lands. It called them brothers, not refugees, and helped them rebuild their lives, so that that today they and their children and their children’s children are proud and productive citizens of the State of Israel.)
At the same time, Israel is not oblivious to the suffering and hardship borne by the refugees as a result of the conflict, and it is prepared to participate in and contribute to a regional and international effort to rehabilitate the refugees outside of its borders. At Camp David, progress was made on this issue, as well. But I fear that the Palestinian leadership has does not appreciate, or has not given expression to its realization, that the refugee problem cannot in any way be solved within the bounds of the State of Israel. (At most, Israel will be prepared, as a humanitarian gesture, to agree to the unification of a small number of families.)
The most complex and sensitive issue – surpassing in difficulty even the refugee problem – is Jerusalem. The disagreement over Jerusalem, more than any other, is what stymied the Camp David summit.
I suspect that I don’t have to explain Jerusalem’s standing in the Jewish and Israeli consciousness. The city’s unification in 1967 and our return to the holy places, under Jewish sovereignty after 2,000 years, were a kind of “big bang” that reverberated on the deepest of Jewish heartstrings. The unity of Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel, became the keystone of our national consensus.
Deliberating the Jerusalem question in the negotiations on a permanent settlement was prescribed by the agreements Israel has signed with the Palestinians, as well as by the situation on the ground. It was impossible, and would not have been proper, to leave Jerusalem as an unresolved issue because it is not a marginal matter; it stands at the very heart of the conflict. In the eastern part of the city live some 200,000 Palestinians who are not citizens of Israel and are organically tied to the Palestinian “hinterland” in Judea and Samaria, for which East Jerusalem serves as a religious, cultural, and economic center. Maintaining our sovereignty over Jerusalem and boosting its Jewish majority have been our chief aims, and toward this end Israel constructed large Jewish neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city, which house 180,000 residents, and large settlements on the periphery of Jerusalem, like the city of Ma’aleh Adumim and Givat Ze’ev. The principle that guided me in the negotiations at Camp David was to preserve the unity of Jerusalem and to strengthen its Jewish majority for generations to come.
The chief demand that blocked an agreement at Camp David touched upon the most sensitive part of Jerusalem: the historical heart of the city that is sacred to three religions.
The most ominous tendency exhibited by the chairman of the Palestinian Authority in this regard is his attempt to galvanize religious fervor to impact on dispute that can be resolved by pragmatic means that will honor the feelings and answer the needs of the followers of all the faiths involved. His pretensions to be the guardian and liberator of the sites holy to Islam and Christianity are, at the very least, anachronistic. Invoking the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a pretext for violence and religious incitement seems a bad mistake to me. The mosque is in Muslim hands, and Israel does not have, and never has had, any desire to control so much as a single stone of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Jewish people has no quarrel with Islam. On the contrary, we feel a deep respect for the splendid Islamic civilization, under whose dominion Jewish history has known chapters of glory and rich cultural creativity, from Andalusia to Turkey, Egypt to Iraq. But even at the height of the “Golden Age” in Muslim Spain, the Jews never stopped dreaming of Jerusalem. As the poet Yehudah Halevi wrote 900 years ago: “My heart is in the East, and I am the farthest reaches of the West,” “scene of beauty, joy of the world, city of a great king, for you my heart longs from the marches of the West.”
The Jewish holy places in East Jerusalem are the pivot of Jewish history, identity, and faith. Jews have been turning to the Temple Mount in prayer three times a day for thousands of years. We recognize that Jerusalem is also holy to Islam and Christianity. But just as we cast no doubt upon the devotion of the adherents of other faiths to the holy places in Jerusalem, so we expected that no doubt will be cast upon the depth of Jewish devotion to Jerusalem and the Jewish holy places. The dispute over the holy places in Jerusalem can be resolved. But its solution is predicated upon tolerance and respect for the feelings of the adherents of all religions.
Thirty-one years ago, during the War of Attrition, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan delivered a famous address to the students of the IDF’s Command and Staff College. Entitled “Fear Thou Not, O My Servant Jacob,” it was Dayan’s reply to the classic Jewish plaint: “Where will it all end?” or, put in sharper terms, “What will become of us?”
This anxiety, which has long attended the Jewish life, was about both physical security (individual and communal) and the spiritual continuity of the Jewish nation. The answer to it that Dayan found in Jewish sources is the dauntless struggle that our nation has conducted throughout the centuries. In his words, and I quote: ” ‘Fear thou not’ does not mean don’t worry. It is not an insurance policy from the Creator implying: ‘You have nothing to worry about. Trust me, the Creator of the Universe, to solve your problems.’ On the contrary, ‘Fear thou not, O my servant Jacob’ means: ‘Jacob, don’t be dismayed; don’t be faint hearted. You are destined to live in constant struggle, and you must not fail out of cowardice.’ ” End quote.
Dayan’s answer was the right one for his time, and it will remain the right one as long as the Jewish people are steeped a struggle for its existence and security. Now, too, we require patience, perseverance, and fortitude to prevail in a struggle that may be long and fraught with difficult tests. But at the time Dayan made that speech, there was no prospect of peace on Israel’s horizon.
Today the answer that Dayan offered 30 years ago no longer suffices. If we return to the sources, we will find that in the continuation of the verse quoted by Dayan, the struggle has an goal, and the “Fear thou not” has a purpose: “… And Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid” (Jeremiah 30:10).
This is the quintessential Jewish hope, if you will, as well as the aim of Zionism: to bring the Jewish people to safe harbor; to finally – after centuries wandering, hardship, and war – know rest, security, and peace. Today this is possible. Peace with Egypt and Jordan have been a reality for years; it now remains for us to close and strengthen the circle of peace by concluding agreements with the Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon. And this is not some odd whimsy; the attainment of peace and security is no longer an illusion or fata morgana. It is a pragmatic political objective, though it make take a while longer to achieve. But attaining it requires a combination of courage, determination, patience, willingness to sacrifice, unity, stamina, and the ability to distinguish between what is important and what it not.
In his famous speech delivered on Mount Scopus after the Six-Day War, Yitzhak Rabin framed the secret of the IDF’s victory in the following way: “Our fighters’ supremacy resulted not from an iron will but from a stronger sense of mission, of the justice of our cause, a deep love of the homeland and a understanding of the hard task assigned to them: to protect the existence of the nation in its homeland; to preserve, even at the cost of their lives, the right of the Jewish people to live in its country – free, independent, in peace and in tranquility.”
Soldiers under his command gave their lives for this objective. He, too, gave his life for it – as a “soldier in the army of peace.”
Doing everything possible to attain that goal now is the prime duty and supreme test of leadership. This is Yitzhak Rabin’s legacy. This is the course we are pursuing.
“Fear thou not, O my servant Jacob,” the struggle for peace and its price, and despair not of reaching the goal of peace and security. For “Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.”