Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Avnery: Yasser Arafat: "Wherever he may be buried when he passes away, the day will come when his remains will be reinterred by a free Palestinian government in the holy shrines in Jerusalem."

"The October 1973 Yom Kippur war caused another turn in his outlook. He saw how the armies of Egypt and Syria, after a brilliant initial victory achieved by surprise, were stopped and, in the end, defeated by the Israeli army. That finally convinced him that Israel could not be overcome by force arms. Therefore, immediately after that war, Arafat started his third revolution: he decided that the PLO must reach an agreement with Israel and be content with a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

"That confronted him with a historic challenge: to convince the Palestinian people to give up its historic position denying the legitimacy of the State of Israel, and to be satisfied with a mere 22% of the territory of pre-1948 Palestine. Without being stated explicitly, it was clear that this also entails the giving up of the unlimited return of the refugees to the territory of Israel."

"Arafat’s (and our) tragedy was that whenever he came closer to a peaceful solution, the Israeli governments withdrew from it. His minimum terms were clear and remained unchanged from 1974 on: a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem (including the Temple Mount but excluding the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter); restoration of the pre-1967 border with the possibility of limited and equal exchanges of territory; evacuation of all the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territory and the solution of the refugee problem in agreement with Israel. For the Palestinians, that is the very minimum, they cannot give up more than that."

Another way of putting it is that Israel never intended to give any more than a moment's reflection to the idea of giving up the Occupied Territories, and Arafat failed in any effort to build grassroots support and solidarity for the two-state solution in both Israel itself and in the West, particularly the US.

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