Do you expect Egypt to announce a new effort to achieve reconciliation?
We must neither wait Egypt or other country, nor wait for calls from here or there, but reconciliation must be immediately achieved and without delay. I am sure that Egypt will spare no effort in the coming period, and I call President Morsi to back the reconciliation and to assist in achieving and implementing it, and I think this is in favor of the brothers in Egypt. Also, I call upon all the Arab brothers, led by Saudi Arabia, to make the necessary efforts to achieve reconciliation.
How have you followed the recent war on Gaza, and how do you see the results of this war?
First, I want to address a greeting and salutation of honor and appreciation to our patient steadfast people in Gaza and to the martyrs of our people and their injured ones. Our hearts, minds, and spirit were there with our people in Gaza, which have provided an excellent example of the heroic steadfastness and resistance. This war of aggression failed miserably and did not achieve any results, and it is an electoral terrorist war. However, the great steadfastness for our people and resistance foiled this war and magic turned against the magician.
Obviously, Gaza achieved a significant victory in favor of the Palestinian people as a whole, and Israel proved again its failure despite of the two thousand raids on the small besieged Gaza. Israel did not win and will never win any war since 1973 and until now, and the era of the Israeli sparkle wars is over and has gone a long time ago. What is required is to promote and strengthen the power of the Palestinian people by the Arab brothers and Muslims, so that to be able to defend their selves and to confront the occupation and aggression, and one of the fruits of victory in that war is the political, emotional, and psychological unity obviously shown by the Palestinians in the entire world.
The Palestinians achieved a diplomatic achievement in the United Nations; do you think that the Palestinian people shall experience the effects of this achievement?
The vote in the UN is a common condemnation of the Zionist occupation, and this reinforced the isolation of the government and the state of the occupation, and gaining the membership as a controller or the non-Member State is a step forward, but its strength relies in acting as one circle in a new Palestinian strategy, for which we have been always calling several years ago. What is needed now is to engage in a ground field battle to end the occupation and to embody the establishment of the State, because the State is actually built on the ground by the hands of the Palestinians and their will, their struggles, their resistance, and their sacrifices. Despite of the importance of the voting that took place, yet this should not be limited to New York only, but an immediate step forward should be taken to gain the membership of all the agencies and organizations of the United Nations, as well as to demand imposing sanctions and boycotting Israel, and boycotting the Israeli goods completely and promoting the Palestinian national production instead.
The financial situation of the Palestinian Authority is very bad; do you think that there are possible solutions?
The Authority was found and set up as a nucleus of the State since it acts as a bridge to reach to an independent State, and thus the authority should devote itself with its full potentials and capabilities to achieve national independence. However, Israel wants the authority to have one sole job i.e. to guard Israel’s security and to provide protection for the settlement enterprise, and it wants an administrative security and functional authority, and this is absolutely rejected by the Palestinian people. I call the PLO to identify the functions of the authority in a way that serves the project of national independence and enhances national steadfastness and fighting the occupation, and it is unacceptable to develop plans and behavior as if Palestine is not under the worst and ugliest occupation in modern history, and spreading the talk about development, reconstruction, and building independent national economy under the occupation is an illusion and a mirage. The authority should adapt its plans, programs, behavior and functions so as to contribute to resist the occupation, and to work to end it. The authority’s work platform should include an inclusive embargo against the Israeli products, should promote the national product, should distribute the burden on everyone, should share a living, and should act according to the rules imposed by the phase of the national liberation; the phase that some have disregarded as if they forgot that we are still vividly experiencing it. The entire world must help the Palestinians, and the Arab brothers should increase and double their support.
There are voices calling for dissolving the authority for they do not consider that it is serving the interests of the Palestinian people?
What is required is not to dissolve the authority but to review its functions, tasks, and behavior completely on the basis that we are still at the stage of national liberation and with all what is required of national resisting performance at the level of the society. The Palestinian land is controlled by occupation and settlement, the authority has no sovereignty over any of its parts, the processes of arrest are taking place every night, occupation is freely moving in all parts of the Palestinian lands, and expansion and settlement reached to a crazy level, not to mention the Judaization of Jerusalem. Therefore, the leadership must take critical and courage decisions and to make the next year a crucial one, during which an actual State would be established on the ground by ending the occupation, and our people’s national effort should be focusing on this sacred mission.
Is the Palestinian leadership betting on resuming negotiations after the Israeli elections?
Unfortunately Israel does not feel that there is a need for peace because it is ensuring its security for free and without paying any political price. As long as the Judaization of Jerusalem and the settlements are flourishing, why would Israel go for peace? Only if Israel lost security, then it would think of peace. As for the fact that they might be betting on the elections and the resumption of negotiations, this is a bad, misleading, and tragic bet, for the negotiations failed completely and did not reap but only illusions and delusions and more settlement and Judaization processes. The next government will be worse and more extremist than the current one.
Do you think that the truce in Gaza will endure or that a new Israeli war is likely to take place?
Israel failed in the aggression and is ready to start a new aggression in the time it deems appropriate and that is why Gaza should be prepared and should remain extremely vigilant and ready and should enhance its capacities and capabilities. Gaza is part of the Palestinian land and I do not think that Gaza will accept a truce relating to it regardless of what is happening in the West Bank and Jerusalem. It is also an integral part of the battle of liberating the West Bank and Jerusalem, so if occupation has had no end in the entire Palestinian land, confrontation is then expected at any time. Gaza in its steadfastness and resistance upholds and enhances our people’s resistance in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Some of the ranks and cadres of Fatah are complaining of the performance after the Sixth Conference, and even some are calling for holding a new conference, what is your viewpoint regarding this?
The Sixth Conference, which came twenty years after the Fifth Conference was a place for reunion and for preparing for the real conference that must witness profound and radical changes in the program, leadership, performance and accountability, and certainly the Seventh Conference is to be held as scheduled, or even before that. In fact, I share with the cadres their concern and complaining and would also call for improving the performance and advancing the movement, and I am confident that Fatah movement contains a sea of activists and loyal members willing to go to the field to complete the path of freedom, return, independence and building the democratic Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital. The members of Fatah as well as all the Palestinians should face the challenge of occupation with courage and bravery without hesitation because the Palestinians’ salvation lies in getting rid of occupation only.
Do you expect to hold presidential, legislative, and the National Council related elections in 2013? Is Fatah ready for such a step?
The election must be held immediately and without delay because the Palestinian institutions had eroded and exceeded years ago the basic law whether relating to the organization or the authority. The presidency’s constitutional two years term has expired, as well as the Legislative Council. As for the National Council it is disabled completely and had not been held since about 15 years, and thus organizing presidential and legislative elections and electing the National Council is necessary, essential, and legal and is a national demand to maintain the legitimacy of the governing bodies and to unite the Palestinians together, for they are today divided and the bodies are not having unanimous or original representation. Elections could be held for all bodies one by one according to a timetable agreed upon, and one of the steps towards allocating a state is to hold inclusive elections immediately.
As for the readiness of the Fatah movement, the constitutional, national, and democratic benefits should not be linked to the readiness of this faction or that, but should be linked to the supreme national interest and the enforcement of the rule of law and maintaining its legitimacy and the integrity and authenticity of the Palestinian people’s representation at home and abroad. It is unfortunate that the recent municipal elections revealed the lack of readiness and a state of stagger and weakness in the performance of the Central Committee and bodies that belong to certain movements. Also, the next national elections bear no improvisation, moody conditions or narrow accounts, and the will of the basis of Fatah must be respected and the movement’s field cadres should have pretty much attention. I am confident that the movement’s basis is okay and that the movement has a broad mass base, and perhaps the issue requires holding the conference three months before any future elections to choose candidates for all bodies.
Many people expected your release in the so-called the “Shalit deal”, but this did not happen and Israel rejected it. Hence, are there any political efforts made by the President, the authority, or by Fatah to release you?
God knows ... All what I know is that I am being kept in prison since eleven years, but I am absolutely confident that our great people will not give up their prisoners. There are 4,600 prisoners in the Israeli jails so far, 530 are sentenced to life imprisonment, including more than 1,300 prisoners being sentenced to more than ten years, and there are 120 prisoners being kept since before the Oslo Accords. Additionally, there are hundreds of sick and injured people, and thus it is the factions’ duty to work really hard to release them.
Are you optimistic about the New Year? What do you want to say to the Palestinians?
Certainly I am optimistic and my faith has no limits. I believe that the dawn of freedom, return and independence is definitely coming and that it is close more than anyone could imagine. What happened during the final weeks of the legendary steadfastness and brave resistance in the Gaza war and the subsequent victory achieved by the country in the United Nations, necessitates a lot of optimism, and stresses our people’s ability to grab their inalienable national rights when they rely on the national steadfastness and the will and decide bravely to confront. I am sure that the next year will be the year of national unity and reconciliation and a year of releasing the prisoners, holding collective elections, and breaking the false coexistence with the occupation. I would say to our people on this occasion that we renew our pledge and promise to adhere to the national principles of our people, and to stick to the path of the martyrs each of Yasser Arafat, Yassin, Abu Ali Mustafa, Al-Shikaki, Thabet Thabet, and the rest of the martyrs.
I say to our people and to the Palestinian youth that it is time to roll up and be prepared to unleash the utmost capabilities, particularly young students, in the face of the occupier, because the State, freedom, return, sovereignty, and independence are born from the broad womb of resistance, and not from the absurd negotiations.
Marwan Al-Barghouti has been sentenced for life imprisonment five times ever since the year 2004.