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Fatah official: We support intifada but don't want military escalation because "the price is very high"

Headline: “In this way we will return to negotiations, what is happening is intifada, not insurgency, and we do not want to make it military. Shaath to Donia Al-Watan: ‘We are considering convening the national council abroad.’”

“Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Shaath emphasized that the talk about returning to negotiations under Jordanian-Egyptian auspices is not true at all…

Shaath clarified in an exclusive interview with Donia Al-Wattan that ‘The negotiations need to be carried out through an international committee, similar to what happened with Iran, and not through the US. Likewise, the entire [Israeli] settlement project needs to end, permanently and under international auspices in addition to determining a specific date for the end of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza blockade, and all of the political prisoners must be released.’ He added: ‘These are the conditions for returning to the negotiation table, I know that the US and Israel will not agree to them, but we emphasize that there is no return to negotiations without [meeting] these conditions.’

When he was asked about his expectations regarding the possibility of escalation of the popular insurgency, Shaath refused to describe it by this term (insurgency) [parentheses in source], and said: ‘I do not like to call it popular insurgency (habba jamahiriya). As far as I am concerned, it is the third intifada, (intifada thalitha) and this time it is our young who started it, particularly in Jerusalem.’

The terms ‘intifada’ and ‘popular insurgency’ have caused a new rift between the Islamic movements on one side of Fatah, and the PA and government on the other side. This is because the government insists on calling it ‘popular insurgency,’ and this term is being used by Fatah spokesmen and most of the factions which are affiliated with the PLO, while Hamas uses the term ‘Jerusalem Intifada’ in order to describe the current events. Hamas leadership member Mahmoud Al-Zahar even attacked all those who use the term ‘popular insurgency.’

Regarding the goal of the Palestinian leadership that the popular insurgency will continue like the first and second intifadas, Shaath said: ‘Each intifada has its special character and means. We prefer popular peaceful means, but are not the ones deciding each thing that happens in the current intifada, as it was not officially planned by the Palestinian government, or the Fatah or Hamas movement, but is rather an intifada that demonstrates the popular rage, and expresses the resistance to the Israeli occupation.’

Regarding the continuation of the current insurgency or its cessation, Shaath said that it is possible to maintain its continuation, as all reasons point to this.’ More than 64 Palestinian citizens have died as Martyrs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the beginning of this October. Israel claims that some of the Martyrs attempted to carry out stabbing operations (i.e., attacks) against settlers and soldiers, and pictures publicized by the media exposed how the media facts are falsified in Israel…

Regarding the concern of losing control over the situation and the popular insurgency turning into an armed intifada, Shaath clarified that he is not interested in things deteriorating and getting out of control, and turning into a military intifada, as happened in the second Intifada (i.e., PA terror campaign 2000-2005), and explained this by saying: ‘It is not because we are against armed conflict. We carried out armed conflict for 38 years, and the Fatah Central Committee sacrificed 14 Martyrs. The reason is that we think that according to how things appear at the moment, the situation cannot continue as it is, and Hamas already tried this in Gaza, and we tried it in the West Bank.’ In addition, he noted that the price is very high, and “in addition, our situation at the moment is not as it was in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, where we had bases that were almost secure, from which operations set out for the interior (i.e., Israel), and we returned safely to our bases,’ in his words.

Shaath added: ‘We did not choose military resistance because facts have shown that we cannot liberate the homeland by that means, at least not at this stage, as it has a high price, and will drag us into the cycle [of violence] in which Israel is interested. This does not mean that we do not see armed conflict as a main means, but we are opposed to it [at the moment], but we have the right to choose it, as we are fighting against Israeli soldiers who are occupying our land. In other words, we are not fighting against citizens, in accordance with international law.’ In addition, he noted that there are other means that can be used and which can be successful.”

PA leaders and officials have legitimized Palestinian violence by quoting 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, but has chosen to ignore 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..." The UN Charter prohibits targeting civilians, even in war. Chapter 1, Article 1, opens by saying that "international disputes" should be resolved "by peaceful means."