|Palestinian leaders from both Fatah and Hamas argue that terrorism -- including suicide terror against Israel, which they call “resistance” or “armed struggle” -- is a legitimate political tool. PA leaders quote UN resolution 3236, which "recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to regain its rights by all means." The PA interprets "all means" as including violence against civilians. However, the PA ignores the continuation of the resolution, which states that the use of "all means" should be "in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations," which prohibits targeting civilians, even in war.
The PA not only legitimizes its use of violence against Israel, it employs a strategy that combines violence with diplomacy, timing it to achieve optimum political impact.
Fatah Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi explained this policy on Ma’an TV:
“In the Fatah political program of the Sixth Conference [in 2009]… it says liberation of the lands and resisting the occupation through all means of resistance. We haven’t omitted any type of resistance. However, we know that for each method of resistance there is a right time and circumstances, which are not right for another method. Since we are interested in a [political] achievement, in a state, freedom, and independence for the Palestinian people, we know what the interests and basic principles of the Palestinian people are. Hence, we want to realize its interests, and not to concede our basic principles. These might be temporary interests or achievements until conditions are ripe to end all other issues.” [Ma’an, independent Palestinian news agency, Feb. 11, 2015]
Muhammad Dahlan, a former Fatah MP, described it as follows:
“This is our right, our legal right (i.e., referring to the use of violence). The international community affirms it for us. But it is the responsibility of the leadership to use it when it wants, in the proper place and at the proper time. We cannot leave in the hands of youth who use their own judgment. This is the difference between [PA] using this right and just anyone using it.”
[Official Palestinian Authority TV, July 22, 2009]
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Since the primary motivation for Palestinian terror is the advancement of political goals, the PA employs a strategy of alternating violence and negotiations. They often refer to violence as “seeding,” meaning that terror is used to inflict suffering and fear on Israeli society and the international community, after which the terror is stopped temporarily, in order to let diplomacy “reap” the fruits of the terror. The ongoing threats of renewed terror are seen by Palestinians as a primary motivation for Israeli leaders to give in to Palestinian demands.
Fatah spokesman Ahmad Assaf explained:
"Fatah… [is] the only movement that successfully employed all types of resistance in order to achieve the goal… Fatah did not say that its only option was armed struggle. We always said, 'the rifle sows and diplomacy reaps.'... The rifle always had one target, and it was a political target: achieving the Palestinian people's goals of freedom and independence. That is why we went down two parallel paths: armed resistance and political activity.”
[Official Palestinian Authority TV, Dec. 31, 2012]
Similary, Diab Al-Luh, member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council explained:
“We have learned in the struggle that there is a stage of planting and cultivation. The struggle of the rifle seeds and the diplomatic struggle reaps. We, the Palestinians, have planted in the many years of our struggle, our Martyrs (Shahids), our wounded and our brave prisoners, who have planted productive seeds.” [Official PA TV, Dec. 5, 2004]
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Mahmoud Abbas himself has also stated the importance of timing violence properly. The criterion he stressed was the potential to be successful:
“Now we are against armed conflict because we are unable. In the future stages, things may be different. I was honored to be the one to shoot the first bullet in 1965 [Fatah terror against Israel began in 1965], and having taught resistance to many in this area and around the world, defining it and when it is beneficial and when it is not.” [Al-Dustur (Jordan), Feb. 28, 2008]
Thus, the use of Palestinian terrorism is determined by its profitability and the PA’s capabilities. Former Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei (Abu Alaa), when asked if the Palestinians should be using armed “resistance,” stated: "I see and analyze. And if it [resistance] gives me [benefit] without costing me, yes." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 5, 2010]
Palestinians across the political spectrum view “armed resistance” as a legitimate political tool. An article in the official PA daily described Yasser Arafat as the champion of this model, and the “expert on the timing of seeding the [armed] struggle and reaping diplomacy.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 9, 2006] Hamas has also supported the strategy of alternating violence with diplomacy: “Praise to Allah, we [Hamas] have demonstrated glowing success in combining diplomacy and resistance.” [Hamas representative Ayman Taha, Al-Rissala, May 17, 2007]
The following section documents statements and attitudes on the violence-diplomacy strategy, across the Palestinian political sphere: