On June 23, the Palestinian-owned Al Quds Al Arabi carried an
interview with PFLP spokesman Dr Mahir al-Tahir, by Zuhayr Andraws:
"Dr Mahir al-Tahir, official spokesman of the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine, said in an exclusive interview to Al-Quds al-
Arabi on Friday 22 June that the Palestinian cause was going through
its worst stage since the fateful catastrophe. Al-Tahir added that the
Palestinian cause was much larger than Fatah and Hamas. He said: The
internal struggle between Fatah and Hamas is a struggle over jobs,
seats, and fictitious power, while the Palestinian people are under
the burden of the Israeli occupation.
"In reply to a question, Al-Tahir said that releasing the funds to the
emergency government would be tantamount to mere bribery. He added
that what was required now was a meeting of the secretaries general of
all factions to form an interim national command until the convening
of the Palestinian National Council. Al-Tahir said that since the
signing of the Oslo Agreement the Palestinian Authority kept the PLO
in the shadows, and hence we ought to rehabilitate the PLO as the
point of reference for the entire Palestinian people.
"[Andraws]: "What is your opinion of the formation of the Palestinian
emergency government headed by Salam Fayyad?
"[Al-Tahir]: "I believe that this is not the solution for the internal
crisis in the Palestinian street. I am afraid that this solution might
increase the complications of the situation, and might add water to
the mud. This is because the Palestinian domestic situation is deeply
divided, and we are now facing two governments: one in Gaza and the
other in the West Bank, while we all are under Israeli occupation.
"This means that we have two governments while there is a complete
Israeli control. Therefore, this Palestinian scene has become
unreasonable. We are in a dark tunnel, and the entire Palestinian
cause has entered a dark tunnel. Moreover, there is now a question
mark over the issue of the PNA in the light of the US and Israeli
rejection of peace. In fact the Palestinian cause has become
distorted. I mean rather than being a national liberation movement
confronting the occupation, we started an internal conflict over a
fictitious PNA, a PNA that does not possess any feature of
"[Andraws]: "Do you support the proposal that the PNA ought to be
dissolved, and things should be called by their right names: The
occupation is occupation, and the resistance is resistance?
"[Al-Tahir]: "This needs to be discussed. In the light of the current
complications, the Palestinian arena is in a terrible condition. As
far as we in the PFLP are concerned, the basis is the PLO. However,
unfortunately since the Oslo Agreement the PLO has been rendered
absent and paralysed for the benefit of the PNA. We have reached the
stage that we do not have a serious PLO; we have become institutions
that do not meet. Also the authority of the PLO has received a blow;
the Palestinian citizen no longer feels that there is an effective and
"At the same time, there is no real PNA; the PNA has also received a
blow; the members of the Legislative Council and the government have
been arrested. We are in a situation in which the unity of the
Palestinian reference point is threatened, and thus we really are in
an extremely dangerous situation. The Palestinian cause has never been
in a worse position than the one in which we are today. This is the
most dangerous stage in the history of our Palestinian people. The
entire Palestinian national project is in danger.
"After the elections for the Legislative Council, a power struggle
took place and we became a PNA with two heads. Security organizations
and a certain tendency within Fatah have worked to thwart the
experiment, and to place all kinds of obstacles in its way. On the
other hand, Hamas constituted the executive power. Therefore, we
entered into a destructive internal conflict, and the fighting, which
we saw and which disfigured the picture, took place. We engaged into
an internal conflict over seats and fictitious posts.
"Then a major mistake occurred when [Hamas] resorted to the military
settlement of the situation and the control of Gaza. At the same time,
the answer to this is not the dissolution of the government and the
formation of an emergency government, because this will increase the
complications and will not resolve the problem. We are facing two
governments, and we are facing a real danger of separating the West
Bank from the Gaza Strip. We are following up the US and EU statements
that they will lift the siege from the emergency government and will
release the funds; their undeclared aim is to deepen the crisis and
the domestic divisions on the Palestinian arena.
"[Andraws]: "In the light of Olmert's announcement about releasing the
funds to the PNA, how do you read the quadripartite summit that is
going to convene next Monday 25 June?
"[Al-Tahir]: "The basic issue that we ought to understand is that the
Palestinian cause is a political issue, and cannot be resolved by
bribing us with some money to deepen out divisions. The Palestinian
cause is a cause of national liberation par excellence. We have
rights, and Israel ought to recognize these rights and to recognize
the UN resolutions and the international treaties. These rights are
the withdrawal from the occupied territories, the implementation of
the right to return, and the withdrawal from Jerusalem.
"Through the latest experience, I firmly believe that Israel does not
want peace, and that it is supported in this by the United States.
Therefore, I do not think that the Sharm al-Shaykh conference will
lead to anything important. Also the Quartet and the Arab committees
will not get anything that will serve the interests of the basic
Palestinian cause. Israel would like to force us to capitulate on the
basis that it is a country that is above the law, and that no pressure
at all is exerted upon it.
"When a democratic process was established, a process that was
demanded by Israel and the United States, elections took place, and
after the announcement of the results and the winning by Hamas, they
imposed a starvation siege on the Palestinian people as a method of
political blackmail. Therefore, the international community shoulders
a great deal of responsibility for the situation reached in Palestine.
They have pushed the Palestinian people into a tight corner, they are
starving the Palestinian people, and Israel is on the rampage, kills
the Palestinians, and escalates the settlement process.
"Therefore, the international community really shoulders a great deal
of responsibility. I am not exonerating the Palestinian side, I do not
exonerate the Palestinian factions, be they Fatah or Hamas, but I also
do not exonerate the Arab silence, and the way that Arab countries
left the Palestinian people hungry and under siege for nearly one and
a half years. I have not yet heard about a siege imposed on a people
for practicing their democratic right by those who demanded holding
"[Andraws]: "What is the solution to get out of this dilemma?
"[Al-Tahir]: "The solution is not by adopting measures and
countermeasures. We do not agree to the adoption of partitioning
measures by this-or-that side. The solution is by rehabilitating the
PLO as the supreme authority for the Palestinian people. This is the
uniting factor for the people at home and abroad. This is because we
really are facing the danger of dividing the Palestinian people and
squandering their unity; this is not only between those at home and
those abroad, but also among those at home. This is a very dangerous
"The solution is to convene an urgent meeting for the secretaries
general of all the national and Islamic factions, and to examine
deeply where we have gone wrong, where we have been right, what are
the reasons for what has happened, why we have reached this stage, who
is responsible here, and who is responsible there. A frank and serious
discussion should take place, in which the Palestinian people with all
their forces and the civil society institutions ought to participate.
This is because the Palestinian cause is greater than Hamas and is
greater than Fatah.
"Now the prevailing conviction is that there are two fighting sides,
and there are conflicts between them, while the Palestinian people are
standing by as spectators. The Palestinian people have great resources
that ought to get involved and play their role in protecting the
national cause and the national project. After the meeting of the
secretaries general, the issue of the PLO ought to be discussed. It is
possible to rehabilitate the PLO and form an interim national command;
therefore, the secretaries general can administer the cause until we
are able to convene a session of the Palestinian National Council.
reach an agreement on our national unity. We need the efforts of the
Arab brethren and the Arab League. We have no alternative to dialogue,
because the military sett! lement and the formation of the emergency
government will increase the complications of the situation." - Al
Quds Al Arabi, United Kingdom