Saturday, July 26, 2003

ON ABU MAZEN'S VISIT
This Washington Post/Newsweek interview with Abbas is quite interesing, laying out his future plans and his view of things about a future Palestinian state.

The AP reports about Mahmoud Abbas's policy towards the situation with the radical groups.

The United States "has its approach to the matter. It wants us to dismantle the radical groups. We told them that if the truce remains in place, why should we use force against our own people?" Abbas told journalists.

We have cleared up that point with the Americans. We explained what we are ready to do and what we cannot do," he said in respect to a series of meetings with US officials that were dominated by security matters.

According to sources close to the Palestinian delegation, security minister Mohammad Dahlane had at least seven hours of meetings with national security advisor Condoleezza Rice and CIA director George Tenet.
My guess is that with the almost non-existent security apparatus of the Palestinian Authority it's impossible to do almost anything. Secondly, forcefully disarming radical groups is simply impossible. The fact is that it would lead to a civil war, especially with the highly unpopular Mahmoud Abbas leading it. Self-destruction should not and will not be an option. Hopefully Mr. Bush understands this and has Mr. Tenet and Ms. Rice have laid out a strategy with Dahlane. This is also addressed in the Washington Post/Newsweek interview.
Q: But the road map says that the terrorist infrastructure must be dismantled.

A: We said that we are going to have one authority which will stop the chaos of [illegal] weapons. We will have political pluralism so any faction can express its opinions freely in a democratic way.

Q: Does that mean you think you can turn Hamas and Islamic Jihad into democratic citizens?

A: Why not? . . . We will try. We have started talking with these factions about being integrated into the Palestinian society. If so, why should we go to civil war or confrontation with these people?

Q: Don't they say that they're dedicated to the extinction of the Jewish state?

[Let them] keep their slogans. I believe that if we reach the state within the '67 borders, they will live with it and will accept it. It's only 22 percent of the historical Palestine.
It's a little known fact that the public slogan is different from the slogan that's internally known. They damn well know that destroying Israel is impossible and impermissable. When Palestinian life is stable, the occupation has ended and Hamas' influence on the people through social services have ended, the support for Hamas and the like will end.

More excerpts:
Q: What are the issues you will not give in on?

A: We want our independent state. We want Israel to withdraw from the territory it has occupied since 1967. We want East Jerusalem to be our capital. We want the Israelis to remove all their settlements and we ask to find a just solution to the refugees.

Q: Are you saying that you want Palestinians to have the right of return to Israel?

A: I said we should find a just and agreed-upon solution.

Q: But you know that Israel will never agree to the right of return.

A: Why shouldn't they discuss the fate of four and half million Palestinians?

Q: To return to Israel?

A: We are not asking that four and a half million return but at least let them choose. . . . U.N resolution 194 says either return or compensation
[...]
Q: It's said the "Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." Are you going to miss this one?

A: We are not going at all to miss this opportunity. We are going to grasp this opportunity, but we hope that the other side has the same intention -- the Israeli side. This is exactly what we are asking for: an independent state and withdrawal to the '67 borders as President Bush said and we accepted.
Israel must choose: peace and democracy (option 1: right of return) or a racist policy to stay Jewish (option 2: no right of return).

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