HARSH ISRAELI POLICY DOES NOT STOP VIOLENCE BUT INFLAMES
Nabil Shaath, the minister of international cooperation
of the Palestinian Authority, is a close aide to Yasser Arafat and the
de facto foreign minister of the PA. He spoke with Global Viewpoint editor
Nathan Gardels on Dec. 2 from Gaza.
NATHAN GARDELS: In the wake of this suicide bombing onslaught against
Israelis, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that this is "the
moment of truth" for the Palestinian Authority to bring an end to
violence. Is this the moment of truth?
NABIL SHAATH: It is not only a moment of truth for the Palestinian
Authority but also for the government of Israel. But a moment of truth
is only important if it is grasped.
The question is really how to stop this cycle of retaliation which brings
on waves of killing, one after another. The moment the Palestinian side
cools down, the Israelis start assassinating and killing. When the Israelis
cool down, then extremist Palestinians start hitting back.
I was shivering with fear over something like this happening two weeks
ago when the Israelis went haywire, assassinating a key Hamas leader and
killing five Palestinian children with an explosive planted on the path
the kids used to go to school.
These incursions were a rampage. Yet, when we talked to the Israelis and
said that Arafat was trying to stop the violence, they said, "No,
no, no, not enough. The only way we have been able to stop the attacks
on Israelis is by assassinating Palestinian leaders. Palestinians only
understand maximum force."
Well, now we see the folly of this harsh Israeli policy, which they are
only repeating again with the attack on PA headquarters in Gaza. It doesn't
stop the extremists, it inflames them. Both of our extremists, on the
Israeli and Palestinian sides, are self-fulfilling prophets of violence
The only way to stop this now is though American intervention to sit the
two sides down to stop the retaliation of one side against the other,
treating any retaliation as an aggression. Everybody must be held accountable
by impartial monitors on the ground.
GARDELS: The PA has imposed martial law after the suicide bombings.
Will that include arrests of leaders of Hamas and Islamic jihad?
SHAATH: Yes. Arrests are underway. It will mean the imposition
of the same kind of undemocratic rules that the Israelis apply to the
Palestinians -- holding people without bail or a court order on administrative
detention, detaining people for incitement, dismantling organizations
at will, freezing bank accounts of groups suspected of supporting terrorism
and so on. In other words, we will use the British law from colonial times
that Israelis use against Palestinians, not their own people. And we will
use it against extremists on the Palestinian side.
GARDELS: Some Israeli leaders seem to have concluded that not only
is Arafat unwilling to stop the violence but unable to. So, they have
tried to go around him to negotiate cease-fires and other deals. Will
SHAATH: This is another silly policy of Israeli leaders today.
If this were such a successful strategy, there wouldn't have been the
(28) Israelis killed over the weekend. This is but another example of
the folly of the strong.
The Israelis have tried this before with village league leaders and all
kinds of pseudo-personalities they think can replace our leadership. It
is the same folly as if we said, "Let's wait to deal until Yossi
Beilin (Israel's leading dove) becomes prime minister of Israel."
That is not going to work.
(c) 2001, Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune
For immediate release (Distributed 12/3/01)