Mohammed condemns Israeli acts
Q: Sheikh Mohammed, how would you look at the dangerous and fast developments in Palestine?
A: We watch and monitor with indignation, pain and admiration - indignation at the flagrant Israeli aggression and the collusion of the international community; pain at the Arab stand, as Arabs can do more than make phone calls; and admiration at the steadfastness of the Palestinian people, their leadership and their commitment to their rights.
President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan yesterday expressed our feelings with his brave cry asserting UAE's full support to the Palestinian people and their legitimate leadership and heroic stand against the barbaric aggression. I have a great trust in Allah that the Palestinian people will prevail and these, God willing, will be the last hours of tragedy.
Q: How long will Israel remain an outlaw and against international legitimacy?
A: This massive storming of the Palestinian territories is a further deviation from a just and lasting comprehensive peace commitment. Yes, Israel has besieged the Palestinians and their leadership, but it is much more besieged by the steadfastness and just struggle of the Palestinian people and their commitment to their rights and rejection of any compromise. Israel is, moreover, politically besieged by the Beirut Summit's approval of (Saudi) Crown Prince Abdullah bin Aziz's peace initiative.
Q: Has the Saudi initiative been scuttled by the recent Israeli aggression?
A: No. This plan which has now become an Arab initiative is extremely important because it moves the peace process to another wider political horizon. And it is the last nail to be struck in General Sharon's and his government's programme - Sharon who has been trying to drown the entire peace process in a security swamp.
You know Sharon's programme and pledges to the Israelis to uproot the uprising within 100 days and impose the Israeli solution on the Palestinian people. What happened? He, Sharon, failed to fulfil his pledges and as his programme was about to collapse, the September 11 terrorist operations were launched. So Sharon exploited the American campaign against terrorism and linked his security programme with it, taking advantage of the rage against Arabs and Muslims in the West.
Practically, his security programme received the green light from the U.S. and perhaps Europe. Sharon and his army set out to do whatever they had planned to do during the last six months.
But he failed to break the will of the Palestinian people and the uprising continued and even intensified. This raised questions even in Israel on the validity of Sharon's security programme.
Then Crown Prince Abdullah's initiative was launched and gained international acclaim. When the Arab summit approved it, the Israeli government's security programme practically collapsed. A new political operation was set in motion in which Arabs moved from reaction to action.
The Israeli tyrannical aggression on the Palestinian territories is a desperate attempt to regain control of the political initiative in the peace process through an attempt to break its nucleus (the uprising). Thus, the destiny of the Arab initiative hinges on the current struggle in Palestine and by foiling Israeli plans and attempts to eradicate the uprising and the Palestinian National Authority and leadership.
Then the present Israeli aggression is a bone-breaking battle.
Q: So where is the Arab stand capable of protecting the Palestinians and their legitimate leadership as well as protecting the Arab initiative?
A: Yes, it seems a bone-breaking battle but the bones of the Palestinians and Arabs will never be broken. The Arab countries are monitoring developments minute by minute and spare no effort, and I personally do not ask the United States to intervene because it knows the details, for it is a sponsor of the peace process and is directly responsible.
But we say and warn that if the Israelis continue their complete lack of commitment and their arrogance based on their military power and their camouflaging their aggression, violence will only create more violence and blood will only beget more blood. The situation of our brethren, the Palestinians, is extremely difficult, but they are solid and their hearts are free of fear.
May Almighty Allah stand by them, and their nation will never abandon them. Whatever the pressures placed on them, they will remain steadfast because their roots are firm, their faith is strong in their homeland of the last 6,000 years, their cause is just, and the justice of their struggle becomes clearer by the day.
The political stand, which is based on double standards in looking at the struggle of people and their endeavour to gain freedom and independence, is exposed.
Q: What do you mean by double standards?
A: I ask you what is the difference between the resistance of the Palestinian people to the Israeli occupation and the French resistance of the German occupation? And the Afghan resistance to the Soviet occupation? And what is the difference between Israel's practices in the West Bank and Gaza and the practices of the Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo? And why does the international community move fast and intervene to counter all these cases of injustice, aggression and foreign occupation, while lagging behind in encountering the Israeli aggression?
The Palestinian people practise their legitimate right to resistance, similar to all these people whose lands were occupied and their right to decide confiscated. Yet what the Palestinian people have been and are being exposed to in terms of aggression on their land is unprecedented in history. And their legitimate resistance can never be declared terrorism because of some violent acts.
Q: Does this mean that you are supporting martyrdom operations against Israeli civilians?
A: The question is not about supporting or not supporting. These operations actually express the desperation caused by the stalemate in the (Middle East) peace process, which is caused by the Israeli politics and practice, and express a situation where death is better than life under daily siege, oppression, hunger, humiliation, destruction of houses, farms, and killing of children and women.
I have advised our brothers, the Palestinians, to abandon these operations which target civilians but how can the Palestinian leadership handle this situation while Israel puts it under siege, destroys security installations and continues stormings and killings? What do you expect from young people who watch their leader under siege by tanks and perceive their enemy endeavouring to blackmail them in order to gain a waiver of freedom and their independence?
Q: But the operations which target civilians mobilise Israeli public opinion behind Sharon and his government?
A:Perhaps this is true. But when we deal with a phenomenon, we must search for its roots. The root of all forms of violence is the Israeli occupation of the Arab and Palestinian lands.
Occupation is the highest degree of terrorism. And if Israel does not pull out of the Occupied Territories, violence will increase. And Israel will not escape from it. There are many wise people in the world who understand that occupation is the root of violence, and this is borne out by reality. Some loud and effective voices have started warning against drowning in a tide of violence and counter violence. Two days ago, the main U.S. newspapers called for an end to the Israeli onslaught.
The Washington Post said clearly that the excessive use of force by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon helped create an additional cycle of violence and caused victims on the Israeli and Palestinian sides.
Even in Israel itself some voices have started criticising Sharon's policies. I have read in the last issue of Newsweek an article by a history professor in the Hebrew University in which he says that Israel is militarily strong but its soul is weakening, and if it did not end occupation, it will probably vanish.
Q: But these voices are very low and ineffective?
A: Yes. Only steadfastness is effective. And development of the Arab stand will be effective. But every struggle in the modern era has an end and I want the Israeli people to know that if they opt for peace, they will find our minds open and our hands extended. I want them to know that the continued aggression by their government on the Palestinians will not provide a solution and will not achieve security for them.
They should know that what the Arabs and the Palestinians are willing to accept is the minimum. They are accepting this not out of desperation or surrender but to stop the bloodshed and put an end to the state of war and to allow the Palestinians, the Israelis and the people of the region to co-exist peacefully.
Q: Your Highness seems optimistic about the possibility of a radical change in the Israeli stand despite the ongoing onslaught on the Palestinian territories?
A: I am not optimistic or pessimistic. I am reading the reality and every struggle has its own determinants. And every power has a limit. Yes, the Israeli aggression has reached unprecedented heights but the Israeli society and their leadership will sooner or later be forced to face facts and abandon illusions of the possibility of imposing a fait accompli by force.
Q: Has the military power achieved security for Israelis? And has it achieved this? Did it weaken the Palestinian people's commitment to their rights? Or has it increased this commitment? Did it weaken the Arab nations' support to the Palestinians?
A: Never. The Israeli practices of aggression increased the Palestinian national identity. Sooner or later, the Israelis find themselves repeating lessons of the Algerian battle.
The most important lesson was that learnt by General de Gaulle and his supporters when they saw that even the strong and well-equipped French army was unable to cow the Algerians or to eliminate their right to independence despite the fact that the French army shed the blood of more than one million Algerians and controlled Algeria.
Yes, the Israeli society will be forced to face the facts. It will have to answer the decisive question - where will the policies of expansionism, settlement, oppression of the Palestinians and Arabs lead to?
The Israeli society should demonstrate goodwill to the Palestinians and Arabs because they are living in an Arab and Islamic ambience. Today, on the historic Palestinian lands, the numbers of Palestinians and Israelis are almost equal and the birth rates of the Palestinians show that they will outnumber the Israelis within 20 years.
Q: Do you expect that Israel will have a De Gaulle and when?
A: I have spoken of a lesson of history, of a case and not a person. And Israelis have no choice but to apply this lesson literally as neither the Palestinians or Arabs are willing to offer more concessions. I have told you that what the Palestinians are willing to accept is the minimum. And, thus, they will accept no less.
The Arab countries have been endeavouring since the Fez summit in 1982 to achieve peace and in the Beirut summit the Arab countries offered Israel a lot and gave it a new chance to realise a just and lasting peace. Instead of seizing this opportunity, the Israeli government is moving in the opposite direction which shows that a just peace is not on its agenda.
Q: Then this process is at a stalemate?
A: Yes. And this requires an international stand, especially on the part of the U.S. and an action to implement resolutions of international legitimacy and setting in motion the principle of land for peace.
Q:The international situation is trying to be positive but the United States does not allow others to move and its move is biased towards Israel?
A: The United States has undertaken the mission of settling the Arab-Israeli conflict for more than 25 years. And it knows better than others the reality and facts and is directly responsible for development of the struggle and its reaching its present situation.
We have seen a development in the U.S. stand which reached its peak in the vision of the Bush administration to settle the Palestinian-Israeli struggle. We understand that the United States can exert its influence and intervene strongly to put an end to the Israeli aggression and launch a political operation to implement its own vision to achieve peace on the basis of creating two independent states in the historic land of Palestine.
In fact, after the Arab peace initiative in the Beirut summit, the United States has no excuse not to take up its international responsibilities and obligations to sponsor the peace process justly and honestly. The first step is to end this Israeli aggression and the massacres perpetrated by Sharon and his army.
Q: What do you have to say to the Palestinian people?
A: I say to our brethren, the Palestinians, be confident that you are not alone and that your nation can never abandon you.
Almighty Allah will grant you success because your sacrifices demonstrate faith in Allah, confidence in and love of your homeland, and because your cause is just - and in justice lies a super power which will prevail in the end.Monday, April 1, 2002