Beyond Images Challenging myths and presenting facts about Israel 
Palestinian leaders question the Intifada
London - published on 14 January 2003
Beyond Images Ref: 37

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After over two years of violence, many figures in the Palestinian leadership are now openly questioning the purpose and consequences of the Palestinian intifada which began in September 2000. Here are recent examples of the rethink:-

Hanna Nasser
Mayor of Bethlehem (20 August 2002):

“The use of arms did not give us any credit. The Palestinians now have to think very carefully about the next phase. I’m not saying that the struggle against the occupation should not continue, but it has to be a peaceful one, with the help of our friends all over the world…..”

- quoted in Jerusalem Post, 21 August 2002

Nabil Amer
former Palestinian Authority Cabinet Minister (September 2002):

“Didn’t we dance for joy at the failure of Camp David? Didn’t we throw dirt in the face of President Bill Clinton, who dared to propose a state with some amendments? Were we sincere about what we did? No, we were not.

After two years of bloodshed, we are now calling for what we rejected. Perhaps because now we realise that it is impossible to achieve….”

“… Since the beginning of the conflict with Israel, we have given up one of our most important weapons, namely the building of institutions which deserve to be supported by the international community and which are capable of gaining the confidence of the Palestinians.

What have we done with the Palestinian Legislative Council? What have we done with the judicial system? What have we done with the money? What have we done with the bureaucracy?

We did not put in place strict laws governinig the relationship between the authority and the people. Instead, Mr President [Arafat], we descended into tackling this process with the mentality of people dividing the spoils…. We returned to tribalism as a basic element…”

- from letter to PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, reprinted in Palestinian Authority newspaper al-Hayat al-Jadeedah September 2002

Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen)
Secretary-General of the PLO and the head of its negotiating affairs department. Abbas is also known as Abu Mazen and he is considered to be a candidate to succeed Yasser Arafat:-

“I am declaring loud and clear – enough is enough! We have sacrificed, and we’ve been destroyed. This is a crime that has to be halted. We want peace….

- from speech to a meeting of the Fatah ‘Popular Committee’ in a Gaza refugee camp, October 2002 (supplied to Associated Press and London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat, and reported in the Jerusalem Report 30 December 2002)

“All Palestinian militant groups should agree to a pause in the two-year uprising to avoid giving Israel a pretext to seize what remains of our fledgling state….

…It is time to reassess the Palestinian struggle and seize the political rewards of the sacrifices endured by the people so that they don’t have to go on forming an endless column of martyrs, prisoners and invalids…”

- from an interview with a Qatari newspaper, 1 December 2002 (reported in Daily Telegraph online, 2 December 2002)

Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala)
Speaker of the Palestinian Parliament. Also known as Abu Ala:

“The intifada has been transformed into a military act – is it useful or not? I think negotiation is one way, a peaceful way. Intifada [in the sense of popular, unarmed] intifada, is another way, not military…”

- comments reported in Daily Telegraph online, 2 December 2002


Israelis in favour of coexistence with the Palestinians (ie the vast majority of the population) have argued since the day the intifada began that the violence was a terrible error which would set back Palestinian aspirations, rather than progress them. It is a disaster that it has taken senior Palestinians two years to come to realise this. For Israel’s many casualties (and for innocent Palestinians caught up in the violence) the rethink has, tragically, come too late.

Western supporters of Palestinian rights should take the lead from Palestinian leaders who are now speaking out. These supporters should stop their continued justifications for Palestinian terrorism, and halt their endless blaming of Israel for the conflict.

They should urge the Palestinian movement to follow the current rethink through to its rational conclusion, halt the violence altogether, and open up the possibility of resumed political dialogue – the only way they can progress their cause.