The Intifada For Independence, But…? 

Nayef Hawatmeh

The intifada resistance is a political struggle by the Palestinian people, who are resisting the policy of the Oslo agreement and step-by-step solutions which have brought nothing but humiliation to the Palestinian people due to the policies of the Palestinian Authority.

The mountains of hope melted over the promises of Oslo when Israel insisted on the occupation of Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Madrid-Oslo promises of comprehensive and complete solutions in 3 to 5 years, the reshaping of a new Middle East, the return of 90% of the West Bank and Gaza and the return of the refugees ended with the Palestinian Authority controlling only 18%.

The Oslo agreement and the fall of the standard of living of the Palestinians, together with the corruption and mishandling of power among individuals in the Palestinian Authority, as well as the nature of the Arab regimes, led the Palestinian people of all different strata of society to revolt and reject the Oslo agreement. The Palestinian people have waited long enough for the United States and the United Nations; meanwhile Israel expanded and is continuing to expand its settlements and its aggressive policy of occupation. The intifada was the answer to the Oslo-Madrid accord and to Camp David.

The intifada resistance has revived the national awareness that was dead after the 1973 war and the Gulf War. Not until the intifada did the United Nations start to realize that this stone-children generation is serious. Not until then did the United Nations approve the resolutions of October 17, 19 and 21 recognizing the rights of the Palestinian people, over the objections of the U.S. government.

The intifada is the third golden historical opportunity, after the 1973 war and the first intifada of 1987-93. The national unity now inside the occupied territories, which includes Fatah, the Democratic Front, the Popular Front, Hamas and other Islamic organizations are leading the resistance independent of the control of the Palestinian Authority, with the call of 'from Aqsa [Mosque] to Liberation.'

The intifada has moved from an emotional movement to become a powerful political movement (intifada until liberation) to overcome the danger of the Oslo and Camp David accords which finally forced the Arab leaders in their last summit at Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, to publicly support the intifada financially and politically.

The big question now is: has the intifada passed the critical point where it is no longer possible to stop it, to break the arm of the Palestinian people and the united struggling force by going back to the negotiating table and reviving the Oslo accords? The answer is that the intifada has not passed that point of refusing to go back to the situation before September 27. The intifada is now at a crossroads.

The struggle within the Palestinian territory, the backstage manoeuvering among the Arab governments, and the popular support of the Arab population and the international community, these are the crossroads of the intifada.

Negotiations would be acceptable only if they are sponsored by Europe, Russia, China and the U.S. and conducted under the UN umbrella.

The politics of Washington and Barak and the decisions of Sharm el Sheik are part of Washington’s pressure on certain Arab and international capitals to turn the clock back, stop the intifada and bring the parties back to the negotiating table, building on Camp David and Oslo. The invitation by Clinton to Arafat and Barak to attend a meeting in Washington DC, to recognize the decisions of Sharm el Sheik, as well as the move by Barak to form a unity government with the Likud and Sharon show the Palestinians that they are waving a stick. History has shown that a national unity government in Israel is always a government of aggression, expansion and war.

It would have been possible to overcome all these problems when I met Arafat and suggested to him before he left for the Sharm el Sheik summit, to go as a unified Palestinian delegation and to tell the Arab leaders 'this is what the Palestinian people want - the intifada and not Oslo forced step-by-step solutions.' That did not happen and they went alone without a unified Palestinian agenda.

I asked Arafat after the morning meeting to adopt the suggestion of Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz [of Saudi Arabia] as well as the other reasonable resolutions from Lebanon and Syria which together call for supporting the intifada and breaking any kind of diplomatic or political ties with Israel for the time being.

But this did not happen either; that would have been the way to prevent a return to the stage before the intifada. A strong peace or a peace of the strong only comes with a balance of power and a unified Arab world. That is why the Lebanese resistance continues with the support of the Lebanese government and the involvement of the Syrian army and Resolutions 425 and 426. Now there is an attempt to stop the intifada and to go back to where we were, with all the sacrifice being in vain.

To prevent that we have to rise to our responsibilities, unify our forces politically and adopt the agenda of the intifada until liberation and reshape all the resolutions and agreements according to international laws.

We must continue to support and defend the intifada on the national level under an Arab umbrella, bring back the morality and integrity of our nation for all kinds of resistance and struggle and combat the claims that we are violent and terrorists.

We must go back to the UN Security Council to demand that they form an international investigative committee and supply international forces for the occupied territories.

Finally we must resist Washington and Israeli pressure and their gun waving.

Only then we will the intifada and the region move to what Amro-Mossa [Egyptian Foreign Minister] said: 'the old peaceful politics is over; we can not go back, peace needs another approach, the approach of international law and a new method of applying it.'

Thus we will reach a safe haven on a national and international level according to international law.

The author is Chairman of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

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