Prominent Palestinians deny Yasser Arafat accepted it
Published: 12 December 2004
Briefing Number 117
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
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”
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