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.
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
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.