While Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas calls for “peaceful resistance” to Israel and has — publicly, at least — supported the idea of a return to the negotiating table amid a wave of Palestinian terror, senior members of his Fatah movement are openly praising lone-wolf attacks, arguing that the era of dialogue with Israel is over.
In an interview on Palestinian TV Saturday, Jibril Rajoub, former chief of the powerful Preventative Security Force in the West Bank and currently deputy secretary-general of Fatah’s Central Committee, praised individual attacks against Israelis as acts of noble self-sacrifice.
“Clearly, these are individual attacks, but they are heroic, characterized by self-control and a value system,” Rajoub said, citing “the will for the martyr” posted on Facebook by Jabel Mukaber terrorist Bahaa Allyan — who killed two Israelis and injured others in an attack on a Jerusalem city bus last week — in which Allyan asked that no Palestinian faction claim responsibility for his act.
“This [will] should become a document taught in schools about the meaning of martyrdom and patriotism, rather than factionalism,” said Rajoub in the interview.
For Abbas, the current wave of violence has presented a dilemma. On the one hand, he believes that armed attacks against Israelis have proven counterproductive in advancing the Palestinian agenda internationally; on the other, he is pushed to condone (or at least ignore) such actions by a militant street and a party rank and file which has never abandoned Fatah’s “revolutionary” credentials.
Some analysts view the bellicose rhetoric among Fatah leaders as part of a succession race heating up as Abbas, 81, prepares to leave the stage
Some analysts within Israel’s security establishment consider the bellicose rhetoric among Fatah leaders part of a succession race heating up as Abbas, 81, prepares to leave the stage. Though he has not declared an heir, the Palestinian leader has indicated on various occasions his intent to leave office in the near future.
Rajoub, who also serves as head of the Palestinian soccer association, views the strength of the recent Palestinian attacks in their ability to both intimidate Israelis and to galvanize world support around the Palestinian cause of statehood.
“When you see a soldier running away from a man with a knife in his hand, or even with nothing in his hand … clearly the sense of that racist soldier’s security is gone. We need to rise to that level of understanding and translate this into a national strategy with clear goals.”
According to the Fatah leader, the conflict between the Palestinian people and “the occupation” has reached a level of “no coexistence.”
Rajoub, Yasser Arafat’s closest security confidant in the West Bank, said that despite political disagreements, Fatah should easily be able to agree on a “political program of struggle” with other Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
‘We, Fatah, were the first to launch a revolution and use armed resistance,’ Rajoub challenged the other factions, who unlike his own, continue to unambiguously call for armed attacks against Israelis
“We, Fatah, were the first to launch a revolution and use armed resistance,” Rajoub challenged the other factions, who unlike his own, continue to unambiguously call for armed attacks against Israelis. “From day one we put forward two principles: resistance and statehood. The way toward statehood and identity is through resistance.”
Meanwhile, another ex-security chief, former General Intelligence director in the West Bank Tawfik Tirawi, portrayed the current “intifada” as a spontaneous popular movement that no leader can stop.
“This popular movement was unleashed through no decision, and no one can stop it, decision or not,” Fatah Central Committee member Tirawi told Al-Alam, an Iranian news channel broadcasting in Arabic.
The uprising, he argued, was a natural result of the Palestinian sense of solitude given “Israeli actions, American bias, European weakness and Arab fragmentation.”
“The Palestinian has come to see himself as alone, besieged, frustrated, oppressed, his land confiscated. As a result, he is in direct conflict with the occupation. Confrontation with the occupation is open-ended, and not limited to this faction or that,” Tirawi said.
During his interview, Rajoub was challenged by the host about the prospect of renewing suicide bombings inside Israel. His opposition to those was based on public relations, not ethics, he made clear.
“The international community does not accept buses blowing up in Tel Aviv,” he said. “But when a settler or soldier is stabbed while on occupied land, nobody asks any questions. We must struggle in a way that keeps the world with us.”