Top PA official: Israel ‘is our main enemy, resistance is still our agenda’

Top PA official: Israel ‘is our main enemy, resistance is still our agenda’

Arab states should put their money where their mouth is to ‘liberate’ Jerusalem, says Jibril Rajoub, a signatory to the Geneva Initiative who had pledged he was Israel’s peace ‘partner’

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Jibril Rajoub (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90/File)
Jibril Rajoub (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90/File)

A senior Palestinian official who played a central role in peace negotiations and starred in an advertising campaign assuring Israel that “I am your partner” in the search for a two-state solution, said in an interview that “resistance in all of its forms” remains the strategy of his party against Israel, and defined the Jewish state as “the main enemy” of Arabs and Muslims.

Jibril Rajoub, deputy secretary general of Fatah’s Central Committee, head of the Palestinian Olympic committee and former director of the Preventive Security Force in the West Bank, told Lebanese TV channel Al-Mayadeen on May 1 that, for Fatah, “resistance to Israel remains on our agenda.”

“I mean resistance in all of its forms,” he elaborated. “At this stage, we believe that popular resistance — with all that it entails — is effective and costly to the other side [Israel],” Rajoub said in the hour-long interview, which was highlighted by the watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch on Tuesday.

By “resistance in all of its forms,” Rajoub presumably includes violence against Israel. By “popular resistance,” Rajoub apparently meant the protests that have flared intermittently in the years since the terrorist onslaught of the second intifada.

Rajoub, who spent 17 years in Israeli jails after throwing a hand-grenade at an army bus, later headed Yasser Arafat’s Preventive Security Force and served as Arafat’s national security adviser. He is a signatory to the Geneva Initiative, which brings together Israelis and Palestinians ostensibly committed to a two-state solution, and was one of the prominent figures who starred in an advertising campaign by the initiative’s sponsors, advocating a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I am your partner,” Rajoub said in a Hebrew video clip for the campaign, adding that the Palestinian leadership under Mahmoud Abbas was committed to the equation of “two states for two peoples” and “there is a consensus in the Arab world to recognize the existence of Israel in return for an end to occupation.”

In last week’s interview, expressing concern over the Islamic overtones of the Arab Spring, Rajoub noted that Fatah, too, was a revolutionary movement. “If you ask me as a Palestinian, I say — our battle is with the Israeli occupation. Our main enemy, not [just] as Palestinians but as Arabs and Muslims, is Israel and the Israeli occupation.”

Rajoub said that inserting the Palestinian issue into the context of the Arab Spring harms the Palestinian cause, but nevertheless called on Arabs to take part in “the liberation of Jerusalem.”

He criticized Arab inaction on behalf of the Palestinian cause, insinuating that certain rich Arab states consistently refused to financially aid the PA.

“If [Arab] mobilization would begin for the liberation of Jerusalem; if money [would be spent] and swords drawn in the face of the Zionist enemy, that would be great,” Rajoub said.

Palestinian Media Watch quoted Rajoub saying that if the Palestinians had nuclear weapons “we’d use them” right away against Israel, though that statement appeared to have been made sarcastically, as a rhetorical point directed against Arab critics of Fatah’s willingness to negotiate with Israel. “Until now we don’t have nuclear weapons. Believe me, if we had nuclear weapons we would use them tomorrow morning. Believe me, our sick are dying in the hospitals … and the only countries with money to come through with Arab League decisions are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Algeria,” Rajoub said.

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