Tibi: Israeli Arabs are Palestinians
Speaking at the Fatah’s sixth general assembly in Bethlehem on Tuesday, MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta’al) said that the Palestinian state must be free of Jewish settlers and that Israeli Arabs were an inseparable part of the Palestinian people. “Whoever came last should be the first to leave,” Israel Radio quoted Tibi as saying, adding that freezing settlement construction was not enough.
There’s no peace with the settlements or with the settlers and the Palestinian state should be free of settlers, he reportedly said.
Likud MK Michael Eitan blasted Tibi’s comments.
“The peace process between Israel and the Palestinians cannot be built if it is based on hate, separation and an unwillingness to coexist,” said Eitan. “Whoever wants to throw out Jews because of a nationalistic opposition to them living next to Arabs brings upon himself identical statements by Jews about Arabs.”
He went on to say that such remarks were an obstacle to peace and constituted “a dangerous radicalization that does nothing to help bridge the gaps, and certainly doesn’t contribute to peace in our region.”
At the opening of the Fatah assembly on Tuesday morning, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that his people must persist with peace negotiations with Israel “as long as there is a tiny bit of hope.”
He added that Palestinians must not mar their “legitimate struggle with terror.”
Nonetheless, the PA president accused Israel of denying its commitments. According to Abbas, the Palestinians and Israel reached a US-brokered understanding which included east Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and parts of the Dead Sea, “but now the Israelis are trying to deny this and create facts on the ground in Jerusalem, claiming Jerusalem is united under their sovereignty.”
On rival faction Hamas, the PA president spouted condemnations, calling the group “revolutionaries” and “men of darkness.” Hamas wrested control of the Gaza Strip from Abbas’s Fatah-dominated PA in June 2007.
Abbas also said at the conference that the Palestinians will continue to investigate the cause of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s death. Fatah’s last conference was held in 1989 in Tunis, under Arafat’s leadership.
Senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub said his organization will never abandon the option of armed struggle. “Resistance was and is a tactical and strategic option of the struggle… part of Fatah’s policy” which Israel must acknowledge, he said.
Former terrorist Zakaria Zubeidi, a senior member of the Al Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades who was released from prison in return for a pledge not to engage in terror activities, said Israel has no desire for peace and that the Palestinians must ready themselves for the possibility that “it is war that Israel wants, and not peace.”
Tibi, MK Taleb A-Sanaa (UAL-Ta’al) and Muhammad Barakei (Hadash) were the only Israelis expected to attend the conference.