Conflicting views on the “Geneva accords”

December 03, 2003

CONTENTS

1. Remarks by former United States President Jimmy Carter at the Geneva Peace Summit
2. Remarks by Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo, architects of the Geneva Accord
3. "Palestinians step up protests against alternative peace plan" (Daily Star, Beirut, Dec. 2, 2003)
4. Geneva festivities "are a disgusting extravaganza" (Yediot Ahronot, Nov. 27, 2003)
5. "Geneva sellout" (By Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Nov. 28, 2003)



[Note by Tom Gross]

“THIS IS NOT A PEACE TREATY, THIS IS A SUICIDE NOTE BY ISRAEL”

I attach the transcripts of speeches by those behind the "Geneva accords" (Jimmy Carter, Yossi Beilin And Yasser Abed Rabbo) explaining their visions of peace, followed by news reports that Fatah has threatened to execute supporters of the proposal, and an opinion piece ("Geneva sellout") by Charles Krauthammer who calls the Geneva accord's idea of peace "entirely hallucinatory."

Krauthammer writes: "It is Lucy and the football all over again, and the same chorus of delusionals who so applauded Oslo Jimmy Carter, Sandy Berger, Tom Friedman is applauding again. This time, however, the Israeli surrender is so breathtaking it makes Oslo look rational... This is not a peace treaty, this is a suicide note by Israel by Yossi Beilin a private citizen [and funded by his wealthy left-wing Jewish supporters abroad] on behalf of a country that has utterly rejected him politically. That it should get any encouragement from the United States or from its secretary of state is a disgrace," says Krauthammer.

Others, including Secretary of State Powell, have welcomed the accord.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

[These speeches are transcripts as broadcast on Al-Jazeera, Dec. 1, 2003]

“THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE IGNORED”

1. Remarks by former United States President Jimmy Carter at the Geneva Peace Summit:

JIMMY CARTER: This document is important for achieving a true and just peace in the Holy Land... This initiative should be coordinated with the Roadmap Plan and its stages. The Israeli side has been ignoring the demands of the Americans and has continued establishing new settlements and building the separation fence.

... The Israeli settlers are still present on Palestinian lands and the refugees continue to suffer. This has led to the deterioration of the situation. It became clear that there has been a plan to divide people's land and even separate their houses.

... After the Palestinian elections in 1996, there was a brave leadership in the region and a moderate government, which left room for hope. Unfortunately, the acts of violence reoccurred and broke this framework for peace.

... the current Administration in Washington was continually supportive of Israel, and the convenience of the Palestinian People was ignored and pushed to a lower priority.

“PEACE EXISTS DOWN THE ROAD”

2. Remarks by Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo, architects of the Geneva Accord:

YOSSI BEILIN: Dear friends, today we are living the biggest thirst in the Middle East. Peace between Israelis and Palestinians has become possible. It not a matter of mottos or general principles.

... We don't believe that we can achieve peace by boycotting the leaders of the other country, or by calling them fascists... we are telling both governments, don't play with time. Go back immediately to the negotiation table, without preconditions. If you agree on the end of the game, according to Geneva spirit, it will be easier for you to carry out the first two parts of the Roadmap, and reach a final solution.

... We tell you that every issue can be solved. Don't give up on us. Peace exists down the road, and any solution requires the world to guarantee security in order to supply the materials to the Palestinians and to my people.

... This meeting in Geneva now might become the last rational chance in our area.

... I would like to express my appreciation to President Carter, the person, to whom many of us in the Middle East owe their lives. Thank you for accompanying us on our way towards peace and for helping us in hard times. Thanks to Mrs. Calmy Rey, Swiss Foreign Minister, you are very brave, and without your support, it would have been very hard, even impossible, for us to succeed... Thanks also to the Japanese government for the help it offered us.

The last word of thanks belongs to the soldier of peace who was killed 8 years ago. My strong feelings tell me that had he lived, we could have had a permanent peace on May 4th, 1999. This is my strong personal commitment and this is my promise to you, Yitzhak Rabin.

“A COUNTRY OF APARTHEID”

YASSER ABED RABBO: Ladies and Gentlemen, I came here today together with Palestinians from all stages of life.

... I see old fighters that suffered a lot for freedom. I see men and women who have seen their families being torn apart, their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters die for the liberation of their lands and their nations. Farmers who have seen their lands and trees and their life time's work gone to waste for building the fence.

... Businessmen, activists, sit in the same place get together in order to set a base for a democratic free Palestine. Thinkers and students who came with us here, representing democratic and nationalist forces, and members from the Palestinian institutions, and representatives from the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and those who came from Palestine and from abroad.

These are the representatives of my nation, the Palestinian nation. We have all been touched by this conflict, by the occupation and oppression and we all look towards a peaceful future built on justice and freedom. Today we hold our hands out for peace.

... These are powers that work and prefer the separation fence instead of bridges of peaceful coexistence and cooperation... Israel will become a country of Apartheid, abandoned by the whole world. And this is an ugly future and we will not accept it.

We are presenting an alternative the Geneva Accord that guarantees basic security for both nations. For us, freedom and independence within a free Palestinian State which has sovereignty and Eastern Jerusalem as its capital and an agreed solution on the issue of refugees and their suffering. As for you, our neighbors, the State of Israel, completely secure, recognized by all, will live as a normal member of the International Community and the Middle Eastern society.

... We proved, in this document, that a historical compromise can end the confrontation, and we proved that our main concern and our main visions can fit in with each other, and that they don't have to be opposite to each other.

... Colleagues, allow me to directly speak to you, to the Jewish community in the whole world, to the Liberal and conservative Jews. We have an opportunity standing in front of us, let's not waste it. The Geneva agreement is the formula for a historic solution.

... thanks to those who could not join us today but sent their messages to us anyway; President Mandela, Clinton, Chirac and Prime minister Blair, and of course his special messenger.

“A BLACK DAY”

3. Palestinians step up protests against alternative peace plan. Thousands take to streets to demonstrate. Jenin branch of Fatah has threatened to execute supporters of proposal (Daily Star, Beirut, Dec. 2, 2003)

Thousands of Palestinians staged protests in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon against the launch in Geneva on Monday of a symbolic peace pact with Israel... "No to treason, no to traitors," some demonstrators chanted... "The Geneva Initiative is a black day in the history of the Palestinian people," proclaimed one banner.

... Around 300 people also gathered in the center of the West Bank town of Ramallah to denounce the project, accusing its promoters of "liquidating the Palestinian cause."

"This protest is our response to those who have awarded themselves the right to represent the Palestinian people," said Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior figure in Fatah.

... In the northern West Bank town of Jenin, the local branch of Fatah issued a statement in which it threatened to "publicly execute" the backers of the document if they put their signature to it.

... And in the nearby city of Nablus, around 400 people took part in a meeting at Al-Najah university in protest at the plan.

“A DISGUSTING EXTRAVAGANZA”

4. Yediot Ahronot, Israel's highest selling newspaper in an editorial (November 27), says that the festivities being planned in Geneva in order to launch the Geneva Initiative, "are a disgusting extravaganza that will alienate the masses of people and seal their ears from listening to the initiative." The editors believe that those behind the Geneva Initiative, "have failed to understand the public climate," and urges them to learn from the "Four Mothers" grassroots initiative that pressed for the withdrawal from southern Lebanon.

Yediot Ahronot, in a further editorial, urges those who oppose the Geneva Initiative to refrain from attacking its foreign financial backing.

“THIS ‘PEACE’ IS ENTIRELY HALLUCINATORY”

5. Geneva sellout
By Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post
November 28, 2003

[This is the full article]

On Monday, a peace agreement will be signed by Israelis and Palestinians. This "Geneva accord" has gotten much attention. And the signing itself will be greeted with much hoopla. Journalists are being flown in from around the world by the Swiss government. Jimmy Carter will be heading a list of foreign dignitaries. The U.S. Embassy in Bern will be sending an observer. This is all rather peculiar: The agreement is being signed not by Israeli and Palestinian officials, but by two people with no power.

On the Palestinian side, the negotiator is former information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, who at least is said to have Yasser Arafat's ear. The Israeli side, however, is led by Yossi Beilin, a man whose political standing in his own country is so low that he failed to make it into Parliament. After helping bring his Labor Party to ruin, Beilin abandoned it for the far-left Meretz Party, which then did so badly in the last election that Beilin is now a private citizen.

There is a reason why he is one of Israel's most reviled and discredited politicians. He was the principal ideologue and architect behind the "peace" foisted on Israel in 1993. Those Oslo agreements have brought a decade of the worst terror in all Israeli history.

Now he is at it again. And Secretary of State Colin Powell has written a letter to Beilin and Rabbo expressing appreciation for their effort, and is now planning to meet with them.

This is scandalous. Israel is a democracy, and this agreement was negotiated in defiance of the democratically (and overwhelmingly) elected government of Israel. If a private U.S. citizen negotiated a treaty on his own, he could go to jail under the Logan Act. If an Israeli does it, he gets a pat on the back from the secretary of state.

Moreover, this "peace" is entirely hallucinatory. It is written as if Oslo never happened. The Palestinian side repeats solemn pledges to recognize Israel, renounce terror, end anti-Israel incitement, etc. all promised in Oslo. These promises are today such a dead letter that the Palestinian side is openly bargaining these chits again, as if the Israelis have forgotten that in return for these pledges 10 years ago, Israel recognized the PLO, brought it out of Tunisian exile, established a Palestinian Authority, permitted it an army with 50,000 guns and invited the world to donate billions to this new Authority.

Arafat pocketed every Israeli concession, turned his territory into an armed camp and then launched a vicious terror war that has lasted more than three years and killed more than 1,000 Israelis. It is Lucy and the football all over again, and the same chorus of delusionals who so applauded Oslo Jimmy Carter, Sandy Berger, Tom Friedman is applauding again. This time, however, the Israeli surrender is so breathtaking it makes Oslo look rational.

A Palestinian state, of course. Evacuating every Jewish settlement in new Palestine, of course. Redividing Jerusalem, of course. But that is not enough. Beilin gives up the ultimate symbol of the Jewish connection and claim to the land, the center of the Jewish state for 1,000 years before the Roman destruction, the subject of Jewish longing in poetry and prayer for the 2,000 years since the Temple Mount. And Beilin doesn't just give it up to, say, some neutral international authority. He gives it to sovereign Palestine. Jews will visit at Arab sufferance.

Not satisfied with having given up Israel's soul, Beilin gives up the body too. He not only returns Israel to its 1967 borders, arbitrary and indefensible, but he does so without any serious security safeguards.

Palestine promises to acquire and buy no more weapons than specified in some treaty annex. This is a joke. Oslo had similarly detailed limitations on Palestinian weaponry, and nobody even pretended to enforce them. Last year, a massive illegal boatload came in from Iran on the Karine A. What did the world do about it? Nothing.

Today, however, Israel still has control over Palestine's borders. Under Beilin, this ends. Palestine will be free to acquire as much lethal weaponry as it wants.

And on the critical question that even the most dovish Israelis insist on that the Palestinians not have the right to flood Israel with Arab refugees the agreement is utterly ambiguous. Third parties (including among others the irredeemably hostile Syria and its puppet Lebanon) are to suggest exactly how many Palestinians are to return to Israel, and the basis for the number Israel will be required to accept will be the mathematical average!

This is not a peace treaty, this is a suicide note by a private citizen on behalf of a country that has utterly rejected him politically. That it should get any encouragement from the United States or from its secretary of state is a disgrace.


FULL ARTICLES / TRANSCRIPTS

REMARKS BY FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER AT THE GENEVA PEACE SUMMIT

Remarks by former United States President Jimmy Carter at the Geneva Peace Summit
Al-Jazeera News
December 1, 2003

JIMMY CARTER: Thank you for these kind words.

First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo, the negotiators, Professor Alex Keller, and to the organizers of this successful ceremony.

Achieving peace for the Israelis and justice for the Palestinians is an important matter. This document is important for achieving a true and just peace in the Holy Land. There may be some corrections to this document, if direct discussions do take place later on. However, its main principles should remain and the only alternative we have is keeping a just peace between the two sides.

The main issues in this document are setting the borders, the Israeli settlements, the annexation of Palestinian lands, the future of Jerusalem and the Holy Places and the future of the Palestinian refugees. These are the fundamental issues for creating peace.

Second, we should bear in mind that the Geneva Document is subject to changes and that the Quartet Committee will have the last word. This committee is also responsible for the Roadmap Plan and it consists of representatives from the UN, the US, Russia and the European Union. This initiative should be coordinated with the Roadmap Plan and its stages.

The Israeli side has been ignoring the demands of the Americans and has continued establishing new settlements and building the separation fence. The Palestinians have also called for the evacuation of the settlements, a return to the 1967 borders and for a solution to the rights of Refugees.

However, violence continued both by the Palestinian organizations and the steps taken by the Israelis. The Israeli settlers are still present on Palestinian lands and the refugees continue to suffer. This has led to the deterioration of the situation. It became clear that there has been a plan to divide people's land and even separate their houses.

There has also been recognition of the importance of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem. The institution headed by James Baker, who was a part of the government of President Bush Senior, has shown that 53.5% of Israelis and more than 60% of Palestinians believe in a peace treaty, support the political leadership and support the removal of obstacles towards peace.

These are the things which lead to the continuation of violence. However, the right approach will lead towards coexistence in peace and cooperation. After the successful negotiations in Camp David twenty- five years ago, there has been no violation of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. After the Palestinian elections in 1996, there was a brave leadership in the region and a moderate government, which left room for hope. Unfortunately, the acts of violence reoccurred and broke this framework for peace.

And also I'd like to refer to these acts of violence which have continued until now, and that we have all witnessed ever since the Oslo agreement ten years ago as if the United States difference in references was the destructive force during the years of the previous agreement.

Also the EU and the United Nations continued their support of those ideas during the previous years, but the current Administration in Washington was continually supportive of Israel, and the convenience of the Palestinian People was ignored and pushed to a lower priority.

As a result, the radicals on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides took control of the atmosphere an atmosphere of radicalism and rejected any peace initiative. Therefore, in the absence of any real effort to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, opinions objecting to the United States presence in the Middle East were inflamed, resulting in violence. Also, as for responses to the Roadmap, which was initiated by the Quartet, there was another initiative by the League of Arab Nations, which calls for the acknowledgment of Israel and its right to exist peacefully.

This step, and the Arab intention to prevent the continuation of violence, as taken by the Palestinian groups, proves that there are fundaments that need to be taken care of before reaching any agreement.

Also, there is the declaration of interest to change the current situation and to return to the United Nations resolutions 242 and 338, which specifies a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories, and guarantees peace in addition to the recognition of the State of Israel.

Throughout past agreements, new settlements on Palestinian territories have grown enormously, and many settlements were established by the Israeli army these are among the last obstacles to peace.

But whatever the Palestinian leadership might be, and whatever the Palestinian concerns or interests might be, our main cause of annoyance is that there is not a single Israeli proposal in front of us do they want peace with their neighboring countries, or do they want to keep the settlements throughout the occupied territories?

We consider it of high importance that the Palestinians cease the violence against the Israeli citizens and the Jewish People, and that they maintain what they have committed themselves to before the Geneva agreement, such as supporting the positive steps taken by either side. Thank you very much.

END.

 

REMARKS BY YOSSI BEILIN AND YASSER ABED RABBO, ARCHITECTS OF THE GENEVA ACCORD

Remarks by Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo, Architects of the Geneva Accord
Al-Jazeera News
December 1, 2003

YOSSI BEILIN: Dear friends, today we are living the biggest thirst in the Middle East. Peace between Israelis and Palestinians has become possible. It not a matter of mottos or general principles that everyone might agree on. The nationalists from both sides have managed to get to details and to represent a complete solution after more than two years of negotiations.

We don't believe that we can achieve peace by boycotting the leaders of the other country, or by calling them fascists. Issues should end there. This is a big mistake. But we are telling both governments, don't play with time. Go back immediately to the negotiation table, without preconditions. If you agree on the end of the game, according to Geneva spirit, it will be easier for you to carry out the first two parts of the Roadmap, and reach a final solution.

We are putting our proposal on the decision makers' table, as a possibility and an alternative to stopping the violence. This is not a celebration of accomplishment. We are using the fact that we have reached this agreement in order to listen to the requests of the two nations, through this proof that our conditions are not final, and there is always a possibility to overcome the difficulties.

The document is clear, but all of us are realistic, and our hearts are beating and this is a fact, and therefore we have to help the battle for peace, in spite of all the tough and difficult positions that we face, and in spite of all the problems that we faced in the past. We tell the world, "Do not believe those who tell you that our struggle cannot be resolved". "Do not try to help us manage this struggle, but help us end it".

Extremists, on both sides, turned this struggle into their way of life, and they will tell you that it is impossible to stop violence and that a solution is impossible and that the terror will continue and continue forever. We tell you that every issue can be solved.

Don't give up on us. Peace exists down the road, and any solution requires the world to guarantee security in order to supply the materials to the Palestinians and to my people. There are those who say that there is nothing we can talk about, they are now facing our plan. Those who say that there is no one we can talk to, now can see hundreds of people that came from our two societies, showing their commitment to follow this plan.

We, Palestinians and Israelis, cannot allow ourselves to fail. It is possible for us to go back to our countries and introduce what we have, but we are not ready to give up on each other or to give up on our future. It is a chance to have a pragmatic partner from both nations, it is always possible. But peace is getting closer and closer. This meeting in Geneva now might become the last rational chance in our area. Today, we are performing a rational alliance. We are a pragmatic solution for confronting those with only one solution, which is to get rid of the other side.

Our duty today is supporting our alliance as much as possible. I would like to express my appreciation to President Carter, the person, to whom many of us in the Middle East owe their lives. Thank you for accompanying us on our way towards peace and for helping us in hard times. Thanks to Mrs. Calmy Rey, Swiss Foreign Minister, you are very brave, and without your support, it would have been very hard, even impossible, for us to succeed. Many thanks to Dr. Alex Killar, who opened many doors for us in Switzerland, and who became a part of our team when he used to accompany our colleague, Ali. Thanks also to the Japanese government for the help it offered us. And thanks to the two young men, Ghayth Al-Omari and Danny Levi, who wrote up this agreement. Thanks to all of you for being with us today, and thank you Yasser Abed Rabbo for being my partner.

The last word of thanks belongs to the soldier of peace who was killed 8 years ago. My strong feelings tell me that had he lived, we could have had a permanent peace on May 4th, 1999. We are committed, not only to remembering Yitzhak Rabin, but also to carrying out his plan. The words of the song of peace which was written on a piece of paper that was later on found in his pocket and was soaked with his blood, will become reality. This is my strong personal commitment and this is my promise to you, Yitzhak Rabin.

YASSER ABED RABBO: Ladies and Gentlemen, I came here today together with Palestinians from all stages of life. They are people with us who spent more than 20 years in prisons, for their dreams to end the occupation. They cling to that hope, because thousands who are still sitting behind bars will find freedom, freedom for them and for Palestine.

I see old fighters that suffered a lot for freedom. I see men and women who have seen their families being torn apart, their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters die for the liberation of their lands and their nations. Farmers who have seen their lands and trees and their life time's work gone to waste for building the fence.

Old fighters struggle with hope that one day they will be able to stabilize and build a family and live a normal life. Refugees, who saw their lives torn apart, and their properties and houses disappear, hoping for the day when they can put this violent past behind them and start looking towards the future.

Businessmen, activists, sit in the same place get together in order to set a base for a democratic free Palestine. Thinkers and students who came with us here, representing democratic and nationalist forces, and members from the Palestinian institutions, and representatives from the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and those who came from Palestine and from abroad.

These are the representatives of my nation, the Palestinian nation. We have all been touched by this conflict, by the occupation and oppression and we all look towards a peaceful future built on justice and freedom. Today we hold our hands out for peace. Our critics say that the officials should make an agreement like this, and not representatives of the public. We could not agree more, but what can we do when the official leaders do not meet? When the governments do not negotiate? We cannot wait, when the future of two nations goes more and more towards the depths.

It is our duty to represent this formula to them and prove to them and to our two nations, and to the whole world that negotiation is not necessarily inefficient and that it is possible to be efficient. When the two sides officially sit around the negotiation table, we will be the first to greet and support the officials.

Dear friends, unfortunately, this is not the reality. Today we are going towards a future of pain and suffering. There is a fence being built in the center of Palestine, to make sure that the Palestinians will always remain an occupied nation. These are powers that work and prefer the separation fence instead of bridges of peaceful coexistence and cooperation.

They are telling us that we will never achieve a solution and that we are a generation that lost its meaning and that the best we can achieve is a solution built on the facts that were created on the grounds of reality. And they hope that the separation fence and the annexation of Palestinian lands will be the final solution, hidden under a peace agreement. This will create a disaster.

Israel might become bigger. But the price will be very high. The Palestinians will continue to live under occupation and they might stop hoping for a solution based on two countries. And Israel will become a country of Apartheid, abandoned by the whole world. And this is an ugly future and we will not accept it.

We are presenting an alternative the Geneva Accord that guarantees basic security for both nations. For us, freedom and independence within a free Palestinian State which has sovereignty and Eastern Jerusalem as its capital and an agreed solution on the issue of refugees and their suffering. As for you, our neighbors, the State of Israel, completely secure, recognized by all, will live as a normal member of the International Community and the Middle Eastern society. This is the solution to this complicated struggle. And this is the only possible solution.

There was no other solution in the past, and there will not be another possible solution in the future that may add to what we have put in this initiative. We all know this, and so why do we wait? Why should there be more sacrifices in order to achieve the same solution that we can get today? That's why we are here today. To launch a different kind of war a war of hope against hopelessness and war of peace against violence and oppression, equality against racism, coexistence and dialogue against terrorism.

We proved, in this document, that a historical compromise can end the confrontation, and we proved that our main concern and our main visions can fit in with each other, and that they don't have to be opposite to each other. And we proved that we do not need to destroy the other in order to get and achieve our dreams, and we proved that our nationalist dreams cannot be the nightmares for the other.

Colleagues, allow me to directly speak to you, to the Jewish community in the whole world, to the Liberal and conservative Jews. We have an opportunity standing in front of us, let's not waste it. The Geneva agreement is the formula for a historic solution. We share the same principles, justice and equality that created civilization, and we should cooperate together against injustice throughout our whole history.

We should not fail and we should support our history and support each other so that our elementary requirements and our dreams and visions will be able to live with your visions, and that together we can move forward.

My friends, in an attempt to . Some say that the Geneva Agreement is against the Roadmap. They are wrong. We want to make sure that the Roadmap succeeds and will prove that the third level of the Roadmap is possible.

And we put an arrow to Bush's vision of a Palestinian State living side by side with Israel. And we put in the details that the world has realized. Stability can only come if there is real hope for a better future. We imagined peace in all its details. The world knows this, and we especially appreciate Switzerland and its brave Foreign Minister, Mrs. Calmy Rey. Without you, this would not have happened.

Special gratitude goes to those present with us today, the Nobel peace prize winners, President Carter and Mr. Hew, and thanks to those who could not join us today but sent their messages to us anyway; President Mandela, Clinton, Chirac and Prime minister Blair, and of course his special messenger.

And special thanks to our Arab fellows, his Highness, King Muhammad the 6th, and President Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, and of course, to their representatives, Mr. Azzulal and Mr. El-Baz.

And we also send our best thanks and gratitude to the Jordanian government and to his Highness King Abdullah, whose support proves that the Arab nation still believes in peace and will be willing to support any effort in order to achieve it. All of your supporting letters reflect your trust and your efforts for peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to conclude that the Palestinian people want peace. The Israeli nation wants peace. The whole world wants peace. We all want peace. So, will we let the minority of peace-enemies destroy our dream? This is not the end of the road, but it is the beginning of a new road. The choice is in front of us. We can take the road of peace detailed in this document or we can choose the solutions that may lead to more injustice and instability.

I call upon all nations with conscience to join us in brining a solution to both nations which will be the basis for a permanent peace.

Thank you very much

END.

 

PALESTINIANS STEP UP PROTESTS AGAINST ALTERNATIVE PEACE PLAN

Palestinians step up protests against alternative peace plan
Thousands take to streets to demonstrate
Jenin branch of Fatah has threatened to execute supporters of proposal
Compiled by Daily Star staff, Beirut
(Beirut) Daily Star
December 2, 2003

Thousands of Palestinians staged protests in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon against the launch in Geneva on Monday of a symbolic peace pact with Israel, charging that the deal waives the right of millions of refugees to return to what is now the Jewish state.

Some 1,500 people demonstrated against the "Geneva Initiative" in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip in a protest organized by Hamas, reserving much of their venom for the main Palestinian instigator of the accord, Yasser Abed Rabbo.

"No to treason, no to traitors," some demonstrators chanted.

"The Geneva Initiative is a black day in the history of the Palestinian people," proclaimed one banner.

"Whoever sells my right as a refugee is a traitor who must be prosecuted," an opponent of the agreement shouted.

The initiative has been rejected by the main Palestinian factions with groups such as Hamas particularly angered by its implicit renunciation of the right of return for Palestinians who were either expelled or fled their homes when the state of Israel was created in 1948.

In Gaza City, some 2,000 people also gathered in a meeting hall to take part in what was called "a national conference for the defense of the right of return for refugees and against the dangers of the Geneva Initiative."

"This initiative is a gratuitous concession to Israel and is dividing the Palestinian people," senior Islamic Jihad official Mohammed al-Hindi told AFP on the sidelines of the gathering.

Top Hamas figure Ismail Haniyah also denounced the document "for renouncing the rights of the Palestinian people."

Also in Gaza dozens of children marched holding banners bearing the names of towns and villages from where Palestinians were forced to flee in 1948.

In the West Bank city of Bethlehem, more than 50 people, including Cabinet ministers Mitri Abu Aita and Salah al-Tamari, staged a sit-in outside a local annex of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Parliament to protest against the accord.

Around 300 people also gathered in the center of the West Bank town of Ramallah to denounce the project, accusing its promoters of "liquidating the Palestinian cause."

"This protest is our response to those who have awarded themselves the right to represent the Palestinian people," said Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior figure in Fatah.

Although Fatah has formally rejected the initiative, Arafat has despatched his senior national security advisor to the launch ceremony in Geneva.

In the northern West Bank town of Jenin, the local branch of Fatah issued a statement in which it threatened to "publicly execute" the backers of the document if they put their signature to it.

"The right of return is a sacred right and we will not allow anyone to renounce it," said the statement.

And in the nearby city of Nablus, around 400 people took part in a meeting at Al-Najah university in protest at the plan.

In Lebanon, hundreds of Palestinian refugees, most of them displaced in the 1948 war, demonstrated against the Initiative comparing it to the "Balfour Declaration" and branding it as an "enormous catastrophe."

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 promised Palestine as the national homeland for the Jews.

In the southern Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp, some 100 Palestinian children staged a symbolic sit-in. (News Agencies)


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.