1. On July 27, 2007, the Palestinian News Agency WAFA published the guidelines of the provisional government headed by Salam Fayyad. Those guidelines were meant to be presented by the Prime Minister to the Legislative Council prior to the vote of confidence. Ultimately, however, the Legislative Council did not convene due to a lack of quorum that resulted from confrontations between Fatah and Hamas.
2. The guidelines include a variety of subjects such as the conflict with Israel , the Palestinian foreign policy, administration, defense, economy, and society. As far as the conflict with Israel and internal security are concerned, the guidelines reflect Abu Mazen’s known views and the "Arab peace initiative”, embraced by the Arab summits in Riyadh (2007) and before that in Beirut (2002). What follows are the main points of the guidelines in the sphere of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and internal security (see Appendix A for details).
a. An emphasis on the Palestinians’ commitment to "the option of peace”, not only as a strategic option but also as a necessity that arises from the political situation and the international obligations of the Palestinian people.
b. The goal which the Palestinians strive for is ending the Israeli occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state, with "Holy Jerusalem ” as its capital, 1 on all Palestinian territories occupied in 1967. 2
c. A call to find "a just, agreed-upon solution” to the problem of Palestinian refugees, based on UN Resolution 194 (December 11, 1948).
d. Adherence to the bilateral agreements previously signed between the PLO and Israel .
e. The reinforcement of the status of Jerusalem ("the eternal capital of the Palestinian people”) and the status of the Palestinian government in it, while reinforcing its (Palestinian) citizens’ ability to stand fast ( sumud ) against "the schemes of settlement and forced migration which they face”.
f. Giving special attention to the subject of prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons and helping the families of the killed and the injured.
g. Struggle against using religion for political-factional needs, and against the use of religion to justify acts of killing and destruction (i.e., fighting Hamas and the political use it makes of Islam).
h. Putting an end to anarchy, collecting arms from gunmen (i.e., terrorist operatives), and realizing the concept of "one legitimate weapon, one law”.
3. As could be expected, Hamas and other terrorist organizations expressed their objection to those guidelines (see Appendix B). What riled them most was that "the right of resistance” (i.e., violence and terrorism as a legitimate means to fight the Israeli occupation) was nowhere mentioned in the guidelines. It should be noted that the "resistance” is a central component in the ideological concept and strategic stance of the Hamas movement ("Islamic Resistance Movement”).
4. Responding to criticism, Salam Fayyad granted several interviews to the media, saying that the "resistance” is a "legitimate right” since the Palestinian people is under occupation. In another interview, however, he clarified that the only way "to end the occupation”, the main Palestinian objective, is through political dialogue. He also added that the goal could not be achieved in the shadow of terrorist attacks and anarchy.
The guidelines pertaining to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian internal security, as they appeared in Salam Fayyad’s speech (WAFA, July 27)
1. The beginning of the speech established that the guidelines of the government on the conflict with Israel are based on Abu Mazen’s political plan and rely, among other things, on the "Arab peace initiative” 3and on the relevant and legitimate international decisions. Excerpts from the speech concerning the conflict with Israel and the internal Palestinian security sphere follow:
a. The Palestinians are committed to the path of peace: "The government believes that the option of peace is no longer just a strategic option; rather, it is a necessity forced by the current political situation and the international relations and obligations. Those require the Palestinian people to embrace an open foreign policy, which would be compatible with Palestinian legitimacy, Arab legitimacy, and international legitimacy.”
b. The Palestinians’ goals in the conflict with Israel: "We strive to end the occupation and establish our own independent state, with Holy Jerusalem [i.e., East Jerusalem] as its capital, on all Palestinian lands occupied in 1967, based on the principles and conditions set forth in the Palestinian declaration of independence in 1988; based on finding a just and agreed-upon solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees on the basis of UN Resolution 194 ; while striving to put an end to [Israeli] settlements, remove the separation fence, and lift all physical and political obstacles that stand in the way of accomplishing these goals [Note: while Palestinian goals are specified, the guidelines contain no explicit reference to recognizing Israel and its right to exist as a Jewish state within pre-1967 borders].
c. Upholding agreements with Israel previously signed by the PLO: "Complete adherence to the bilateral agreements [previously] signed by the PLO, being the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority, including agreements signed with Israel .”
d. Reinforcing the status of Jerusalem 4 and the position of the Palestinian government in Jerusalem : "Assisting the city of Jerusalem , being the eternal capital of the Palestinian people and its economic, social, and also religious center. Our government will strive to extend the possible assistance to renew the political, economic and cultural status of Jerusalem by promoting its institutions, reviving its economy, and making it possible for Jerusalem to provide work places and housing and improve the competitiveness of its products and services. Thus, it will be possible for Jerusalem to stand fast [ sumud ] against the plans of settlement and displacement from which it suffers…”
e. Ending anarchy and collecting weapons from gunmen [i.e., terrorist operatives] and realizing the concept of "one legitimate weapon, one law”: "Ensuring peace and security is a very important thing high on the agenda of Palestinian civilians, since it is the only way to establish the rule of law and restore the trust in the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian economy. It is also the first basic condition for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Therefore, the government takes it upon itself to end the security-related anarchy and to remove gunmen from the streets, leaving just one legitimate weapon, following the concept of one legitimate weapon and one law…”
f. A particular emphasis on dealing with the release of prisoners and detainees held in Israeli prisons and helping the families of the killed and wounded: "Providing particular attention to the subject of prisoners and political detainees held in Israeli prisons, their suffering and the suffering of their families. This subject will continue being the government’s top priority, and the government will keep acting towards their release. It will seek to provide them and their families with assistance so that they can live a dignified life, and facilitate their quick reintegration into their society. Likewise, the government will seek to address the needs of the families of martyrs [ shuhada’ ] and injured people.”
g. Fighting radical political Islam (that is, fighting Hamas and the political use it makes of Islam): "Embracing a clear-cut strategy in the battle against their habitual practice of accusations of heresy and treason. Fighting the use of religion for political-factional needs, and striving to increase the status of Islam in mind, spirit and body as a religion of tolerance and moderateness; fighting the exploitation [of Islam] to justify acts of murder, destruction, and deportation.”
h. Encouraging diplomatic activity (while completely ignoring the concept of "resistance” as a means to achieve the Palestinian goals in the conflict with Israel): "The government will strive to encourage diplomatic activity and to ensure its success in order to increase the circle of friends, for the establishment of Palestine’s Arab, Islamic, and international relations…” While emphasizing diplomatic activity, the guidelines of the government make no mention of the "right of resistance” (that is, terrorism and violence against Israel ), a central component in the ideology of Hamas and the other Palestinian terrorist organizations.
The issue of "resistance” as a bone of contention: the reactions of Palestinian terrorist organizations to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s speech, and Salam Fayyad’s comments on the speech
1. As could be expected, Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations expressed their disapproval of the guidelines of Salam Fayyad’s government. What riled them most was that "the right of resistance” was nowhere mentioned in the guidelines. It should be noted that support of the "resistance” (i.e., violence and terrorism) is a central component in the ideological concept and strategic path of the Hamas movement, being also part of Hamas’s full name ("Islamic Resistance Movement”).
A cartoon in Hamas’s daily Felesteen (July 30) depicting Palestinians crossing their "red lines”: historical Palestine (that is, greater Palestine ), the return of the refugees, the "armed resistance”, and Jerusalem . A Palestinian crossing the lines is about to cross the red line that says " Jerusalem ” and declares: " Jerusalem is a red line that will not be crossed!”
2. Some of the reactions follow:
a. In a speech given to students in Gaza City, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah expressed his sorrow over the non-inclusion of the "resistance” in the Palestinian government’s guidelines, warning against "a big conspiracy against Gaza, the resistance, and the Palestinian people—and that is not the first time.” He also mentioned that representatives from 32 countries had convened in Sharm el-Sheikh in 1996 to "put an end to the resistance”. According to Haniyah, they failed, "the resistance succeeded and won, and it is now the resistance that dominates Palestine ” (Hamas’s daily Felesteen, August 1).
b. Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan condemned the moves taken by Abu Mazen and Salam Fayyad’s government to "abolish the weapon of resistance”, and claimed that such tactics were tantamount to "stabbing the resistance in the back”. He noted that "these moves benefit the Zionist enemy” and stressed Hamas’s support of "the option of resistance and holding on to the rifles” (Al-Jazeera, July 28, 2007).
c. Khaled al-Atesh, a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad activist, noted that his organization opposed "any political plan of any Palestinian government whatsoever that does not mention our people’s right to resist the Zionist enemy, since we are an occupied people” (Al-Jazeera, July 28, 2007).
d. Abd al-Alim Da’na, a senior activist of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), noted that "those who surrender the arms of resistance only represent themselves, and their acts run counter to the desire of the Palestinian people.” The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the PFLP terrorist-operative wing, issued an announcement saying they would continue the resistance (Qudsway, July 30, 2007).
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad wavers on the subject of "resistance”
3. Following those reactions, Salam Fayyad was quick to clarify that "the resistance” was a "legitimate right”. At a press conference with Amr Moussa, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States (July 29), Salam Fayyad stated that the resistance was a legitimate right of the Palestinian people. "We are obviously a people under occupation”, he said, "and the resistance is a legitimate right of the Palestinian people” (Middle East News Agency, July 20, 2007).
4. In an interview to Arab newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat (July 30), Salam Fayyad clarified once again: "We are an occupied people, and the resistance is a legitimate right of the Palestinian people.” He noted that the guidelines of the government were based on striving to end the occupation and emphasized the pressing need of real progress in the political process.
5. However, following his statements on "the right of resistance”, Salam Fayyad said once again that there could be no political dialogue in the shadow of terrorist attacks and anarchy. In an interview to the Egyptian satellite television (July 31), he was asked whether he ruled out the idea of "resistance” by focusing on the political issue as the basis for handling the conflict. Salam Fayyad replied, "Yes, that should come as no surprise.” He reiterated that the goal of the Palestinians was to "end the occupation” and noted that such goal could not be achieved in the shadow of operations (against Israel ) and anarchy.