JANA WENDT: Dr Barghouti, your people have been in the streets, throwing rocks

and in some cases firing M-16s and Kalashnikovs – when will this end?

DR MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI, PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: I think you have the

wrong picture, ma`am.

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Our people have not been in the streets, shooting from M-16s.

Palestinian civilians have been uprising against an oppression and occupation which

lasted too long.

It is the Israeli Army, which is the most sophisticated and most equipped army in the

Middle East, that has been using tanks, planes, helicopters, missiles and all kinds of

weapons to attack civilian population. And the outcome of these clashes are very

indicative. So far, we have lost 82 Palestinians who have been killed, including two

ambulance drivers, and 3,500 Palestinians have been injured, in comparison to three

Israeli casualties in these clashes.

I think this is very indicative that what we are encountering here is an occupying military

force that again is trying to suppress civilian Palestinians who are fighting for their

independence, fighting for their liberation and fighting for their freedom. The world

ought to see the reality.

But you are not denying that some of your people are armed, in this instance?

DR MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Yes, in the beginning, in the first few days, some

policemen – which were equipped, by the way, through agreements with Israel – some

policemen shot some shots sporadically from one place to the other, in efforts to protect

their own people. But that stopped, and the Palestinian Authority took all the measures

to stop that, and this has stopped for the last week. The problem now is that the Israeli

Army is the one shooting at Palestinian civilians.

Are your people trying to win concessions by this action that Mr Arafat failed to win

at Camp David?

DR MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: No, I think what we are trying to do here is to show

the world that the picture they have about the situation here is not correct. The picture

you have is that Israel is trying to make peace, but actually what Israel is trying to do is

to impose its own arrangements to sustain occupation, and what has happened during

the last seven years after Oslo is the evolution of an apartheid system, a discriminatory

system, where Palestinians are allowed to consume 15 times less water in the West

Bank, which they live in, than the Israel settlers, who are here illegally.

It`s a situation where there is very serious economic discrimination, where there is

oppression and suppression, and believe me, after 33 years of occupation, of military

occupation, there comes a time in people`s lives when they cannot endure this injustice

anymore. This time has come, and the world ought to see it.

Dr Barghouti, not so long ago, you were talking about Israel being a partner for

peace – this is very different kind of language. Who makes the decision about how your

people behave in the streets – whether the rocks are thrown or not?

DR MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Well, we always wanted to have peace, and I

personally have been a member of the Palestinian negotiating team in Madrid. I think if

Israel accepted the right of Palestinians for an independent state over 22% of historic

Palestinian, which is the minimum of justice, we would have ended this conflict in 1992.

The Israel governments have continued settlement activities, have continued their

efforts to change facts on the ground. So it is really up to Israel – Israel has to decide

whether it is ready to change the paradigm. The problem with Israel that it is the

aggressor, and it tries to play the role of victim in front of the world. They have to get

out of this mentality.

Just restricting ourselves to the situation on the ground, can Mr Arafat call off what

is happening in the streets?

DR MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Mr Arafat has already called off all kinds of shootings

from the policemen, but Mr Arafat cannot become a policeman for Israel. If Israel

thought that Arafat or anybody else can become a collaborator to suppress his own

people for the sake of Israel and for the sake of settlers who are here illegally, then they

are mistaken, and they`d better discover this as quick as they can. They`ve tried t create

these kinds of structures before and they have failed.

The best thing to do to achieve peace, to achieve peaceful coexistence is to accept

Palestinians as equal partners, as human beings, and to stop trying to be a colonialist

force at the beginning of 21st century. Israel has to learn a lot from Britain, from France

and from the US – that military force cannot suppress people when they uprise for their

freedom and for their independence.

Not so long ago, you were at the negotiating table with the Israelis – now you`re

using this kind of language. Mr Arafat has not called for an end of these hostilities – will

he?

DR MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: He is not practising hostilities – that`s the Israeli Army,

ma`am. You should come here and see what`s happening around us. We have tanks

here around the cities. We didn`t change our language – the language is still the same.

We want peace that is based on peaceful coexistence. What Israel is trying to do is to

continue to suppress our people, and you ought to see that. We didn`t change our

language. What you see here is the Israeli Army, equipped with all kinds of weapons,

against civilian population. All you need to do is to look at the figures to discover the

reality, and I hope you can.

Interview: Dr Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian negotiator