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Fatah official interviewed on Israeli television, supports peace process, Jewish sovereignty at the Western Wall

Israeli TV Channel 2, excerpts of an interview with Fatah Central Committee Secretary Jibril Rajoub about the meeting between US President Donald Trump and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. In this interview, Rajoub directly contradicts many positions that he expresses frequently and clearly in the PA media.

Fatah Central Committee Secretary Jibril Rajoub: "I think that [US President Donald] Trump is an opportunity for us and for the Israeli side. He came with clear intentions that he wants to make the ultimate deal, and he wants to put an end to the suffering of the two peoples. And I think that this is an unprecedented initiative and the two of us (i.e., Palestinians and Israelis) need to know how to relate. However, it is also dependent on the two of us. Is the Palestinian leadership really willing and able? And also regarding the Israeli side – can it tell the Israelis? This is an opportunity. You have a partner on the Palestinian side. We are moving toward a historical reconciliation, a reconciliation between two peoples; two states for the two peoples, two states for the two peoples. The time has come. We need to do this today."

Channel 2 host Rina Matsliah:
"…[Trump] shouted at [PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas]. Why did he shout at him – because he said 'You speak peace with me in Washington, but here, in your schools, you educate all the time to murder Jews.'"

Jibril Rajoub: "Listen, first of all that is a lie and a falsehood. We do not educate our children [to kill]. There is incitement on our side and on your side, and we… there are inciters."

Rina Matsliah: "But Jibril, just a moment, let's say this: There are schools named after Martyrs (Shahids). There are children dressed as Israeli soldiers who are killed by all of the students. You even name your tournaments after Martyrs. Squares are named after Martyrs – Martyrs are an example of terrorists that kill innocent Jews."

Jibril Rajoub: "...We are proud of our history, just as you are. Listen, don't keep talking nonsense… I am not in favor of violence, and I, since we signed the Oslo Accords, I have believed there will be [peace]. We need to change the record. But everything that has happened includes our Martyrs, and it includes the fighters, and I am one of them and I am proud of my history. Before Oslo everything was permissible. There was war…"

Rina Matsliah: "And after Oslo?"

Jibril Rajoub: "Everything that was after Oslo… you know that we resisted and resist."

Rina Matsliah: "But Mahmoud Abbas, Mahmoud Abbas sanctifies, he praises the terrorists."

Jibril Rajoub: "Mahmoud Abbas, guys, believe me that the nonsense of Bibi (i.e., Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) and your right-wing does not advance you, and not us. We have our challenges. Tell me, what is Baruch Marzel (i.e., an Israeli right-wing activist)? Who funds him?"

Rina Matsliah: “Yes, but he doesn’t go out with a knife and kill girls.”

Jibril Rajoub: “Baruch Marzel – Baruch Goldstein (see note below – Ed.), what did he do? Guys, what did he do? Look at the side –”

Rina Matsliah: "But Jibril, that is one. Here there was a period when every day someone would go out with a knife and stab."

Jibril Rajoub: "Listen, we are under occupation, what do you expect? Say thank God that now with Trump there is hope that your occupation will end. If your occupation continues, what do you expect from the people? Do you expect us to educate our children that there should be love between them and the occupation? We are in charge… We are now, I am telling you clearly, I am sincere, I do not deceive anyone. What? We are now in charge, there are no attacks, none, none, none, for what? Now there is hope… When [US President Donald Trump] came, he went to the Western Wall, and we understand that it is a holy site for the Jews, and in the end it has to be under Jewish sovereignty. We have no argument with that."

Rina Matsliah: "That the Western Wall will remain under Jewish sovereignty?"

Jibril Rajoub: "Yes, of course. It is a holy site for the Jews. So he went alone -"

Rina Matsliah: "And no [sovereignty] over the Temple Mount"

Jibril Rajoub: "Listen, the Temple Mount is ours, OK? It is not yours. And I think you will stop talking like this. Something, a status quo that has been in place since 1967, which [former Israeli Minister of Defense] Moshe Dayan determined - I think that the two of us need to honor it. But if you want to make an explosion, then say ‘This is ours and this is ours…' I say something else, OK? So [Trump] went alone, we also understand – it is a message. The matter of the [US] embassy – it is a message… I think that Mahmoud Abbas is the only and last one that is able and willing, and he has the will, and he has the balls to sign a peace agreement, and he believes in it. So we need him. To run or not to run [for president] depends on his time and his personal decision, but he will remain the father of everyone and he will lead us."

Rina Matsliah: "Does the Palestinian majority believe in two states for two peoples?"

Jibril Rajoub: "Of course. Of course, if I… listen, I am telling you, in the Seventh Fatah Congress we passed three things that are also a controversion (sic., controversy) in the Palestinian street, and also in the world – Mahmoud Abbas was unanimously elected and there was a consens (sic., consensus) about two things: First, two states for two peoples. This did not happen in the Sixth Congress in Bethlehem. And second, non-violence (sic., non-violent) resistance. And we, the leadership of the [Fatah] Movement, and we, it was our right, all of us, to vote for or against. I thought, and even now think, that this is a message to the other side – that there is a partner here. Hamas has also changed their charter a little and stated 'We are willing to live in a state' – that is something… So instead of encouraging, instead of sending a message from the other side – here, there is a partner so let's strengthen it, let's strengthen the position of the peace camp on both sides, so how does Bibi relate to us?... And again I turn to the Israelis and I say to them, guys, the time has come for you to draw the correct conclusions – let's do business, let's change the record, let's pave the way to build a future for our children and our grandchildren, a future where we will relate to each other as neighbors and not as enemies. It depends on the two of us. I tell you unequivocally that you have a partner in us. Fatah is a partner, Mahmoud Abbas as president is a partner, and he is ready to sign an agreement. Two states for two peoples. Let's spare the suffering and killing. Everyone who is killed, it doesn't matter from which side, we are enlisting a family against us. The time has come and I hope that you will understand that we recognize your very existence, your right to build your state, and to live in it in peace and security – but in the 1967 borders."

Cave of the Patriarchs massacre - On Feb. 25, 1994, Baruch Goldstein, a member of an Israeli far-right movement, opened fire on Muslims praying inside the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, known to Muslims as the "Ibrahimi Mosque," killing 29 and wounding 125. Following the attack, which was widely condemned by Israeli leaders and Jewish communities abroad, the Israeli government took concrete steps to prevent similar attacks from occurring by dividing the area of worship into Muslim and Jewish sections and designating several extremist movements, including Goldstein’s, as illegal terrorist groups.

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