The 'two-state solution':
Prominent Palestinians deny Yasser Arafat accepted it

Published: 12 December 2004
Briefing Number 117

Click to Printclick here to print page

Prominent Palestinians have provided further evidence that Yasser Arafat never accepted a “two-state solution” and peaceful coexistence with Israel. An Arafat confidant says that Arafat saw the Oslo process as a way to force thousands of Jews to flee from Israel. And the Palestinian ‘Foreign Minister’ during the 1990s has denied that the PLO amended its charter to recognise Israel and to eliminate calls for Israel’s destruction.

Yasser Arafat’s acceptance of a two-state solution….?

In the weeks after the death of Yasser Arafat, many politicians, including Tony Blair and Kofi Annan, hailed Arafat for having led the Palestinians to an acceptance of the so-called ‘two-state solution’ side-by-side with Israel.

This view is in fact contradicted by Arafat’s past record: his demonisation of Israel; his calls for an unconditional right of return for millions of refugees into Israel; his praise for suicide bombings and other terrorism by ultra-violent rejectionist groups like Al Aqsa Martyrs and Islamic Jihad; the culture of terror glorification and intimidation over which he presided; and his rejection of opportunities to achieve a two-state solution through pragmatic diplomacy (for more, see Israel Accused, Number 18, and the Other Resources listed below).

Two recent statements by prominent Palestinians have provided further evidence that Arafat never in fact accepted a “two-state solution” and peaceful coexistence with Israel.

Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the Al Quds Arab language newspaper

Abdel Bari Atwan is the respected editor of the London-based Al Quds newspaper, and a confidant of Yasser Arafat. During the 1990s, Atwan criticised the Oslo diplomatic process, which was designed to achieve a two-state solution, as a sellout of the Palestinians.

In an interview reported by various news agencies, and by the Jerusalem Post (26 November 2004) Atwan has describes a private conversation between himself and Arafat which took place in Tunis in May 1994 just before Israel first withdrew from the Gaza strip, and Arafat returned there. According to Atwan, Arafat reassured him that the Oslo process did not betray the Palestinian people, saying as follows:

Yasser Arafat: “Listen, Abdel Bari, I know that you are opposed to the Oslo Accords, but you must always remember what I am going to tell you. The day will come when you will definitely see thousands of Jews fleeing Palestine…. The Oslo Accords will help to bring this about….”

Our comment: As can be seen from Atwan’s disclosure, Yasser Arafat’s vision for Oslo was not of two-states living peacefully side by side. He saw Oslo as a long-term tool to demoralise the Jews and force thousands of them out from the country. This should be read in conjunction with the comments of Farouk Kaddoumi (see below). Hardly peaceful coexistence between two states.

Farouk Kaddoumi, PLO Foreign Minister

In May 2004 Farouk Kaddoumi, the PLO’s ‘Foreign Minister’, gave an interview with Jordanian daily paper Al-Arab, which is highly revealing about the Palestinians under Arafat. Extracts from the interview were published in The Jerusalem Post (23 April 2004).

Under the Oslo Accords of 1993, the Palestinians recognised the right of Israel to exist, and undertook to amend the PLO Charter to remove those articles which call for the destruction of Israel. Between 1994 and 1996 the Palestinian leadership under Arafat undertook a confusing and legalistic process which they claimed to the outside world amounted to amendment of the Charter. At the time, many Israelis were highly sceptical. But the West and some in Israel gave the Palestinians the “benefit of the doubt”.

However, Kaddoumi has now confirmed the interpretation of the sceptics. In his Al-Arab interview, Kaddoumi states:-

“The Palestinian national charter has not been amended until now. It was said that some articles are no longer in effect, but they were not changed. I’m one of those who didn’t agree to any changes….”

Elsewhere in his interview, Kaddoumi confirms that “there is no struggle for our rights other than armed military struggle…”. And when asked about US and Israeli demands to halt terrorist attacks as a condition of resuming negotiations, Kaddoumi says: “They can go to hell”

Our Comment: Kaddoumi is on the so-called ‘”extreme wing” of Fatah. But he is one of its most senior figures, and has immense experience of the workings of the Palestinian leadership. His comments about the PLO Charter confirm that the “recognition” by Arafat’s PLO of a two-state solution never took place.

Conclusions: In 1993 Yasser Arafat supposedly committed to recognising Israel and a two-state solution (some indeed claim this happened as far back as 1988). But in the years since, the actions of Arafat’s Palestinian leadership confirmed the insincerity of that commitment.

The disclosures by Abdel Bari Atwan and Farouk Kaddoumi provide further evidence of the false Palestinian promises. As the post-Arafat era moves forward, it is expected that Israel will be looking for tangible measures that translate Palestinian “recognition” of Israel into meaningful action.

Other Beyond Images Resources include
Briefing 70 – “The Curse of 1948: Yasser Arafat’s Language of Coexistence”
Briefing 6 – “Recognising Israel: Actions Speak Louder Than Words”
Briefing 21 – What happened at Camp David and Taba?
Briefing 104 - Glorification of terror in Palestinian society