ARAFAT: CAMP DAVID ENDANGERS NOT ONLY PLO BUT THE WHOLE ARAB NATION
The following is Yasser Arafat's interview with Monte Carlo radio station, which was broadcast on Tuesday 24 October.
Question: Mr. President, all three Steadfastness and Confrontation Summits failed to stop President Sadat's initiative, and to prevent Egyptian negotiatiors from heading for Washington to sign the peace treaty. And Washington is now openly seeking to convince the Palestinians and Arabs to accept the second Camp David agreement, i.e. to accept the "self-rule" plan. Meanwhile, PLO supporters have announced their rejection of this plan in various conferences, mainly at Beit Hanina and Gaza. But, will all these efforts, activities and conferences succeed in foiling the Camp David accords related to "self-rule", and how will you, Mr. President, confront this issue which directly affects the PLO?
First of all, I object to the title "President". I always prefer being addressed "brother Abu Ammar." Second, the self-rule plan, which is one of the most dangerous results of Camp David, harms not only the PLO and the Palestinian people, but also the whole Arab Nation.
We are now at a historic turning-point, the implication of which is that this Arab Nation will be or will not be; that this Arab Nation, which includes 150 million people, will impose its own will and future, or accept a new colonialism and containment, and a US-imperialist-Zionist hegemony over the Arab region.
We are now entering the 14th year of our struggle; and our people are entering the 62nd year of their struggle. Our people have struggled and continue to struggle, generation after generation. There is not one single family that does not have a martyr, a prisoner or an injured person among its members. Our people are known for their heroism and victories. A few days ago, Manachem Begin said something important: that the most dangerous thing facing the Zionist movement is the PLO, and that he wants to defeat it.
Let Begin understand that he will not be able to defeat the Palestinian Revolution. Let him learn from the facts, for when he moved a third of his army, on the orders of Brzezinski (who at the beginning of this year said "Bye bye PLO"), he thought that he could destroy the Palestinian Revolution in the space of six hours. But after eight days he was the one who asked for a cease-fire, not me. Gur admitted that, and when he was asked about his losses, said: "what could I do if I had before me people who want to die?"
It iss important that we should understand all these things well, before you ask me whether the Steadfastness and Confrontation conference is able to stop Camp David or not, for the historic turning-point which the Arab nation is facing cannot be looked at in the short run.
I would like to tell you that a few days ago they announced that they would undertake to rearrange matters for the "self-rule" plan. Faced with the massive outcry against "self-rule" they began trying to bribe our people, for they realized that this people are daily showing more firmness and more attachment to their goals. The Americans will retreat again against their own will.
For this reason, we are creating new equations; whether they like it or not, our steadfastness will create them and the Steadfastness and Confrontation conference is not merely a grouping of five parties, but a sweeping current in this Arab Nation, represented by the Egyptian Nasserite deputy, Kamal Ahmad, by the members of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council, by the Nationalist Progressive Unionlist grouping, and by the Egyptian army and people.
Q: Among the equations you mentioned is the one regarding the occupied territories. Western observers divide the West Bank and Gaza population into three groups: PLO supporters, King Hussein supporters and independents. But those who rejected the "self-rule" and other proposals went beyond these three groups. What if some of these groups should support "self-rule"?
A: First, I would like to tell those who invent these divisions that our people inside and outside form one tightly-knit bloc, and that these divisions which Carter, Begin and other lackeys of imperialism put forth are only meant to realize their objectives, mainly the objective of settler-colonialism which represents the last stage of colonialism, and which will be ended by our militants in this Arab region.
Most of the Western press serves the interests for world Zionism and imperialism, and does not transmit the true picture. It in fact imposed a black-out on the great uprising which took place in the occupied territories against Camp David. The answer of our pepole - who they thought would accept the "bone" thrown their way - was a clear expression of their rejection of Camp David and its participants, who conspire against our cause. Our people teach their leadership and cadres about struggle against imperialsism, Zionism and agents and traitors. Therefore, these people, whether they are in the West Bank, in Gaza, in the U.S.A., Australia, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria or Egypt, utter one single unified word. This people who have lost everything, have succeeded in creating the greatest Revolution, after the Vietnamese Revolution. In 1973, in Berlin, the Vietnamese handed me the flag of International Revolution, and our Revolution is loyal to it. When I went to the UN in 1974, I said that I was not talking in the name of the Palestinian Revolution and people only, but in the name of revolutionaries the world over and in the name of all oppressed peoples.
Q:It is now obvious that the USA is stressing that the PLO should accept Security Council resolution 242 in order to participate in negotiations. Saunders even hinted that the USA would accept the PLO should say "we accept 242 but we have reservations." What is your stand on these suggestions.
A: The US asking the PLO to accept 242 proves that they cannot ignore the PLO. This request was put to me a while ago, but does this resolution mention the rights and cause of the Palestinian people? It only refers to them as "refugees", and the USA is actively trying to have the UN pass resolutions that are in harmony with its policies, without giving any consideration to the rights of this people.
In this context, I wonder why they do not hold to resolution 3236 or 3237? Instead they repeat Kissinger's record: "It is only possible to talk with the PLO if it recognizes 242." This only means American commitment to supporting Israel, and its lack of commitment to international resolutions since 1947.
Q: What can you say about Palestinian commando action?
A: We in the PLO stand with international legitimacy, and we entered the United Nations with the support of this legitimacy. After our victory in South Lebanon, when they attempted to put distance between us and international legitimacy, I declared the Revolution's acceptance of the U.S.-Soviet communique, issued in October 1977. We have never been nihilistic, and we never will be, for nihilism means defeatism. The Revolution deals with reality, and the Palestinian National Council resolved that it is the right of the P.L.O. to establish its independent state on any part of Palestinian land liberated, or from which the enemy withdraws. The Council also resolved that it is the right to participate in all international conferences which deal with an overall and just solution of the Palestinian question, enabling the Palestinian people to practise their national rights in complete freedom in their homeland.
A: I recently detected signs of the beginning of the unification of the Palestinian Revolution, which some have described as the practical answer to the Camp David accords. What about this?
A: The question is not one of unification or integration; what is important is unification within the context of specific goals of he entire Palestinian people and all its institutions, all of whom say "Yes to the PLO and to the National Charter." Thus there is a certain unity which constitutes the basis we agree on. What we want from the current meetings is that they lead to agreement on a programme for the coming phase, which we call the post-Camp David phase. Last Friday, the Palestinian leadership agreed on this programme, which will be laid before the next session of the Palestinian National Council and before our entire people, wherever they are found, for their approval.
There exists something else: organizational unity, such as that represented in the National Council, the Central Council, the Executive Committee and military command. As is known, all Palestinian military forces are responsible to a single military command. This unity exists in spite of small differences and difficulties, which are to be expected in view of the situation.
Q: What can you say about your visit to Jordan, which was described as a failure and what about relations with Iraq?
A: The visit to Jordan was a success and its results were excellent. We will be forming a committee to continue the Palestinian-Jordanian dialogue, and I hope that this committee will be successful. All of this has been discussed by the Palestinian leadership and the Executive Committee, and we hope it will bear fruit soon.
Iraq is a different matter, and unfortunately what happened between them and us was something painful, but I hope that the Baghdad Summit will be an occasion for a reassessment of what they did to us. I have heard indirectly that they have this intention, and I hope that this will develop to the point of actions and not just words
As for the Baghdad summit, I have grown accustomed to being neither pessimistic nor optimistic regarding Arab Summit conferences the results will be commensurate with our efforts and our struggle in any conference. Rabat, for example, I consider a success, in spite of the unseen presence of Kissinger, which permeated the conference, even though, of course, he was not there.
Q: What can you say about Lebanon?
A: First, I would like to express my pleasure at the results of the Beiteddine conference. I consider it to have had positive results on the Lebanese and Arab levels. The meaning of Beiteddine is that it said no to international interference in an Arab country. This is an important and indeed critical point. You know of these unnatural voices which called for internationalization and other things. I declare: Beiteddine means one thing, which is that there is an Arab decision regarding an internal Arab matter.
Q: What can you say about Iranian accusations against the PLO?
A: What I can say is that I am with the Iranian people and support their struggle for their rights, this people who march with banners saying in Arabic "Revolution Until Victory". Whose slogan is this? It is the slogan of the PLO and of Fateh. This certainly should be as an answer to Brzezinski and others who said "Bye-bye PLO".... In any case we are not behind these demonstrations; what is "behind" them is the oppression from which the Iranian people are suffering.
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