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      Op-Ed: Palestinian Responsibility for the 2nd Intifada

      Published: Monday, February 25, 2013 2:23 PM
      As calls for a "spontaneous" Third Intifada are heard, this MIddle East researcher documents what the Palestinian leadership said before the outbreak of the Second Intifada, which was initiated and managed by the Palestinian Authority leadership.



      Posted on the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:

      On February 11, 2013, on Israel’s Channel 10 television program “The Source,” it was claimed that there was not even an “iota of evidence” that the Palestinian Authority leadership, and Yasser Arafat in particular, planned and initiated the Second Intifada, which began in September 2000 and resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 Israelis by 2005.

      Rather, it was claimed that this was a spontaneous popular uprising that ran counter to the interests of the Palestinian leadership. As a consequence, Arafat appears to be exonerated by the narrative presented. The program also reopened the old debate over whether the Second Intifada was ignited by Ariel Sharon’s September 2000 visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

      Yet, extensive testimony at the time and in retrospect demonstrates the Palestinian Authority’s role in initiating and managing the Second Intifada as an extensive terror onslaught, designed to impose a unilateral, unconditional withdrawal upon Israel, and improve conditions in anticipation of the battle for realizing Palestinian demands for the return of the refugees.

      Arafat: A Puppet Leader or an Authoritative Leader?

      If the intifada “erupted” by itself,” then Arafat’s undisputed leadership of the Palestinian people and Fatah was purely a myth. In fact, this would mean that Arafat was a puppet leader who did not have the power, leadership, and authority to sign a political agreement with Israel in the name of the Palestinian people that would put an end to the conflict with the Jewish people over Palestine.

      Furthermore, this would imply that the Israeli intelligence agencies failed strategically. They all failed to warn the Israeli political echelon prior to the 2000 Camp David conference about the frailty of Arafat’s leadership and his irrelevance as a partner to any peace agreement predicated on an historic compromise. Yet the evidence demonstrates the direct connection between Arafat and the intifada’s launch and management.

      Fatah as the Prime Contractor of the Palestinian Authority

      In the years preceding the intifada, the Fatah movement headed by Arafat functioned as the main pillar of the strategy to engage in a popular struggle against Israel. Key events in this struggle include the Temple Tunnel incidents in 1996, demonstrations against Jerusalem’s Har Homa neighborhood in 1997, and the Days of Rage and the “Prisoner Intifada” in May 2000. Each of these events helped to provide background for the Second Intifada in September 2000.

      Arafat and Barghouti Threaten a Return to the Armed Struggle and Intifada

      The initial signs indicating that a concrete decision had been reached to launch a major terror assault against Israel were discernible in the tough language employed by Yasser Arafat in meetings with the Shabiba – the Fatah youth organization – in Ramallah and Nablus during that year. A number of these meetings took place in April 2000, a few months prior to the second Camp David summit. As documented by the Gaza newspaper Al-Mujahid (April 3, 2000), Arafat called the young Fatah members “the new generals,” and threatened to “launch a new intifada” in order to impose the “establishment of an independent Palestinian state” upon Israel.

      Marwan Barghouti, subsequently one of the intifada’s most prominent leaders, presented a revealing statement (Akhbar Al-Khalil, March 8, 2000) on the strategy of the Fatah movement at the beginning of 2000:

      Whoever believes that one can reach a decision on the issues of a permanent agreement [with Israel] – for example, on refugees, Jerusalem, settlements, and borders – via negotiation is living under an illusion. On these matters we have to wage a battle on the ground in parallel to the negotiating framework….I mean a conflict. We need scores of battles on the model of the [1996] Al Aqsa Tunnel battle….One does not combat settlements with pleas but by force of arms….It is our people’s right to contend with Israelis in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem using all means and methods.

      Two weeks prior to the second Camp David summit, at a meeting of the Fatah movement in Nablus on June 25, 2000, Arafat explicitly raised the option of officially reverting to the strategy of “armed conflict,” and implementing this strategy (and ideology) on an official basis and to its full extent (in other words, via the use of terror), which Fatah and the PLO had previously championed prior to entering the negotiating track:

      We will sacrifice…our lives for Palestine….We are fighting for our land….Whoever forgot this should remember the battle of Karameh [an IDF operation against a terrorist base in Jordan in 1968 that is depicted as the first Palestinian victory over the Israeli Army], the Beirut Campaign [the battle for Beirut during the First Lebanon war], and the seven years of intifada [the First Intifada]. We are willing to erase everything and start everything afresh.”

      The Final Decision Following the Camp David Summit

      The final decision to initiate the Second Intifada was made by Yasser Arafat immediately upon the conclusion of the second Camp David summit, which ended on July 25, 2000. Once the die was cast, all that remained was to determine the timing and the immediate pretext for launching the intifada.

      The immediate and overt signals were provided by Fatah, which organized “spontaneous” demonstrations of support for Yasser Arafat for refusing to yield to pressure to forego fundamental Palestinian positions, while expressing a readiness to continue the struggle for realizing “the national rights of the Palestinian people.”

      In a detailed essay on the second Camp David summit published in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida only nine days prior to the beginning of the Second Intifada (September 20, 2000), Sakhr Habash, who was considered Fatah’s official ideologue, noted that in response to the Israeli and American proposals, “brother Abu Amar [Arafat] spoke in the idiom of the believer who views the issues confronting him and the exalted Palestinian people, regarding the conflict option.”

      Habash belongs to Fatah’s founding generation. He was a member of the Fatah Central Committee (Fatah’s supreme institution), was considered a very close confidante of Arafat, and took part in the consultations and contacts that Arafat conducted with representatives of the diverse Palestinian organizations during the course of the intifada. Habash was frequently appointed to speak on behalf of Arafat at various events.

      The Palestinian Security Forces Prepare for Conflict with Israel

      The message regarding Palestinian readiness to defend their fundamental principles was translated immediately following the summit into directives that were disseminated to the national security forces in Gaza, instructing them to prepare for the immediate option of initiating a violent campaign against Israel.

      In July 2000, the monthly Al-Shuhada (issued on behalf of the “political guidance” apparatus and disseminated among Palestinian National Security forces and Border Guards in Gaza) contained an order of the day from the Palestinian leadership with instructions to prepare for the approaching confrontation with Israel.

      Below are the main points cited by Ahmed Ibrahim Hiles, commander of “political guidance” for the Border Guards of the National Security forces, under the title: “The Battle Has Begun”:

      A summons, a summons, a summons from the delegation to the negotiations headed by Commander Sergeant Abu Amar to our heroic Palestinian people: Be prepared, the battle for Jerusalem has begun. This is the meaning behind the Palestinian delegation’s return from Camp David to the soil of the homeland without abandoning the avowed fundamental Palestinian positions: No peace will exist without Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Palestinian state. There will be no stability or security for the entire region unless Israel accedes to the legitimate international demands that have set the principle of land for peace in accordance with UN decisions.

      Major Raed Muhammed, an operative in the “political guidance” apparatus of the Border Guards of the National Security forces, notes in another article from the same issue that “the failure [of the Camp David summit] heralds the end of the political agreement, and that creates an opening for the option of struggle and confrontation. This is the beginning, the natural beginning, for the demise of political agreements as a method for realizing the Palestinian people’s goals on the path to its liberation.”

      On August 5, 2000, only seven weeks prior to the beginning of the terror onslaught, the newspaper Falastin Al-Youm cited a Palestinian source in its main headline as saying: “In Order to Obtain Progress in Negotiations, Conflict Is Necessary.” The article states: “A Palestinian source disclosed to Falastin that the Camp David summit…failed as a result of the Israelis’ insistence on their positions concerning all issues….The Palestinian source believes that…a certain degree of conflict is necessary for the purpose of altering the existing equation.”

      The pioneer inside the Palestinian security apparatuses was Jihad Al-Amarin, a senior Fatah operative and an intimate of Arafat who was smuggled into Gaza in Arafat’s car on the day he first arrived in Gaza following the Oslo Interim Accords. Al-Amarin, who served as the head of the Palestinian Police Operations Branch in Gaza, translated Arafat’s intentions into terror attacks against Israel even prior to the Second Intifada (in March, April, and June 2000) and after its outbreak he founded the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades in Gaza.

      The Hour of the Intifada Has Arrived; the Hour of Jihad Has Arrived; the Hour of Jerusalem Has Arrived

      A similar policy line supporting a new intifada against Israel and galvanizing mass protests was adopted by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Information. In August 2000, “Events and Topics,” published by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information, featured an article with the headline: “The Popular Aspect During and After Camp David”:

      We stand at an historical crossroad at a most complex stage, in whose course the fate of Jerusalem, the refugees, and the state’s borders may well be decided. These issues demand the unity of all the forces in order to create a Palestinian state of readiness that will serve the national issues, and currently we must prepare the masses so they can prove capable of contending with what the ensuing stage has in store. We’ve all witnessed the broad mass support and its rallying around the Palestinian negotiating delegation upon its return from Camp David and we saw the sense of exaltation and victory of the Palestinian delegation following the reception it received….However, the escalation in mass activity mandates tougher activity in the stages that will precede victory and in a manner that allows the masses to fulfill their role in serving the national cause so they will not be merely eyewitnesses to the events relevant to determining their fate.

      On September 11, 2000, about three weeks prior to the beginning of the Second Intifada, the handwriting on the wall was clear. In an article in the newspaper Al-Sabah, the official organ of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Khalil (apparently the pseudonym of the paper’s editor, Sari Al-Kidwa) announced the imminent timing and the expected pretext (Jerusalem) for the launch of “the intifada and jihad campaign” against Israel:

      The defense of Jerusalem requires blood, we can only defend Jerusalem with blood, the time of victory and the fall of the martyr has arrived….The battle of Jerusalem is the mother of battles….We will advance and proclaim a comprehensive intifada for Jerusalem, the hour of the intifada has arrived; the hour of the intifada has arrived; the hour of jihad has arrived; the hour of Jerusalem has arrived and Jerusalem beckons.

      Fatah Prepares for the Conflict with Israel

      Due to the failure of the Camp David summit, the Fatah movement declared an emergency situation and began to make preparations for conflict on all levels, beginning with raising awareness of an impending major conflict and concluding with military training. Marwan Barghouti, who headed Fatah’s Supreme Council in the West Bank, was cited in the newspaper Falastinuna on July 31, 2000, as saying that the failure of negotiations opens the gates for the Palestinian people to realize “all the options.” He noted that extensive time existed to attain readiness and to announce a general mobilization in the ranks of the Palestinian people.

      Barghouti’s statement was not made in a vacuum. In practice, the security apparatuses of the Palestinian Authority and the “political guidance” apparatus, in collaboration with the Fatah movement, conducted scores of summer camps during the summer months of 2000 for youngsters in all areas of the Palestinian Authority, in whose framework thousands of young people were trained in the use of arms and to attack soldiers and Jewish settlers using rocks and firebombs.

      Falastinuna reported on September 17, 2000, on the eve of the Second Intifada, that the ranks of the Fatah organization were placed on high alert, as a preparatory stage toward the declaration of a Palestinian state.

      The Palestinian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Dr. Nabil Shaath, said during a meeting in Khan Yunis one day prior to the outbreak of the intifada (Al-Ayyam, September 29, 2000) that the Palestinian Authority will work to restore the land via a peace process, and if the matter will fail, the Palestinians’ only remaining recourse is conflict. He clarified that the Palestinian people hope that the leadership will succeed in restoring their rights via a peace process. However, he noted the possibility that an agreement would not be reached in the course of the current negotiations and that the situation would deteriorate, and called upon the Palestinian people to “be ready and prepared for all alternative options.”

      Arafat Orchestrates the Intifada Through the National and Islamic Forces

      From the very first day of the Second Intifada, a coordinated front of the major power centers in the Palestinian arena operated under the name of the National and Islamic Forces. This front was loyal to Arafat and served as the supreme coordinating framework for managing the intifada, organizing joint activities against Israel, and resolving disputes between the organizations.

      Additional Palestinian organizations joined Fatah, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian Democratic Union (FIDA), the Arab Liberation Front, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian People’s Party, the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, the Palestinian Liberation Front, and the Palestinian Arab Front. This coordinating framework was of vast importance in setting strategy for the intifada and it was set up in response to lessons learned from the divisions that had plagued the First Intifada.

      Attesting to the direct involvement of the Palestinian Authority in managing and guiding the Second Intifada is the first manifesto issued on behalf of the National and Islamic Forces on September 30, 2000 (see Appendix for complete text). This proclamation bears the seal of the Palestinian Ministry of Information (an official ministry within the Palestinian Authority government), alongside a comment by one of the responsible parties in the Information Ministry with the directive: “disseminate [the proclamation] to everyone.”

      In subsequent announcements of the National and Islamic Forces, directives were issued to continue activity against Israel, while noting special dates and occasions for escalating violent mass action.

      For example, a proclamation of the National and Islamic Forces of October 3, 2000, called for continuing the “blessed popular intifada” and lauded the masses and forces of our people in the Galilee, in the Triangle, on the Coastal Plain and in the Negev for their brave stance [referring to the riots of October 2000 involving Israel’s Arab citizens]. “The National and Islamic Forces have set the days of October 4 and 5, 2000, as days of national mourning in memory of those who fell on the national soil in defense of Al Quds [Jerusalem] and Palestine,” and called on the Palestinian people “to continue escalating the organized popular actions of confronting the soldiers of the Israeli occupation and the Zionist settlers in Al Quds, the West Bank and Gaza.”

      A proclamation of the National and Islamic Forces on October 27, 2000, set “October 29 as a day of general escalation, in which parades and demonstrations of rage would set out in all parts of the homeland with a demand to remove the occupation.” In this proclamation the National and Islamic Forces lauded the Palestinian people in honor of “the blessed intifada [entering] its second month.”

      It should be emphasized that the announcements of the National and Islamic Forces were published in a prominent and accentuated fashion in the official Palestinian media that was totally controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and they served as a manifesto for public action following a detailed plan, and enjoying the full support of the Palestinian Authority.

      Moreover, Palestinian government ministries fully collaborated with the National and Islamic Forces and the local and regional committees, which they established to reinforce the steadfast Palestinian stand during the intifada. In its early days, calls by the National and Islamic Forces for mass demonstrations, which were for all intents and purposes violent and widespread riots, were synchronized with the Palestinian Ministry of Education and involved many schoolchildren.

      The Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat, made direct, personal use of the National and Islamic Forces in order to coordinate intifada activity, to ensure that the acts of violence and terror attacks would facilitate the attainment of the PA’s and PLO’s political and strategic objectives, as delineated by Arafat himself and his loyalists and fellow travelers in the leadership.

      Thus, for example, after the suicide bombing in the Dolphinarium night club in Tel Aviv on June 1, 2002, carried out by Hamas, and as a result of the severe international pressure applied on the PA to desist from terror and act against terrorist organizations, Arafat convened the senior forum of the National and Islamic Forces and directed them to temporarily lower the flames of the intifada; in other words, reduce the level and severity of the violence on a temporary basis for purely tactical reasons. This act demonstrated the commanding ability of the Palestinian leadership to manage and direct the terror campaign against Israel and control the extent and intensity of the terror in light of changing circumstances. Their major considerations were how the international arena would react and the degree to which they feared an extensive Israeli military response.

      The Intifada Was Not a Tactic But a Strategic Choice

      The role of Arafat, the Palestinian Authority, and the National and Islamic Forces in the Second Intifada was revealed by Sakhr Habash, a key Fatah leader quoted earlier, who took part in meetings with representatives of the National and Islamic Forces. Habash told the Lebanese paper Al-Mostaqbal on September 29, 2001:

      The intifada’s policy and its demands are determined by our brother Abu Amar (Arafat) and the Palestinian Authority, and more importantly, on the ground [policy is set by the National and Islamic Forces], in other words, fourteen organizations that are capable of continuing the intifada and the muqawama [resistance/struggle]….The intifada is not a tactic, but our basic strategic choice until the occupation has been removed, and liberty and an independent state free of settlements has been obtained. Even if we were to establish a state the intifada and the struggle would continue, perhaps via other means, because it is obligatory to realize the refugees’ right of return.

      How the Decision on the Outbreak of the Intifada Was Taken

      A year after the Second Intifada began, Mamdouh Nofal, one of Yasser Arafat’s advisers, described how the decision to launch the intifada was made (Al-Dirasat Al-Filastiniya, Summer 2001):

      It [the intifada] is not a mass movement distinct from the Authority or something that erupted by itself. The reverse is the case; it began on the basis of a decision from above by the Authority before it turned into popular activity. The matter occurred immediately after the visit by Sharon to Al Aqsa. At that time the political and security bodies of the Palestinian Authority convened and made a decision to defend Al Aqsa. Arafat viewed Al Aqsa as the detonation point of the status quo that would suffice to ignite a conflagration not only on Palestinian soil but would also impact the situation outside the boundaries of Palestine. Decisions were made that dealt with practical preparations, and meetings were held by the forces that participated in the Authority, and it was decided to move them towards Al Aqsa on Friday. Likewise, security measures for the mosque were reinforced by bringing in additional guards and issuing directives to the security apparatuses to enter Al Aqsa and defend it.

      This dovetails with the statement by Nofal in an interview with the French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur (March 1, 2001), according to which Arafat planned to launch the conflict with Israel prior to Sharon’s visit on the Temple Mount. According to Nofal, “A few days before the visit by Sharon to the mosque, when Arafat asked us to get ready to initiate the conflict, I supported mass demonstrations and opposed the use of arms.”

      Nofal noted further that the head of Preventive Security in the West Bank, Jibril Rajoub, warned Arafat of the danger posed by a military conflict. But his efforts proved in vain, for Arafat was persuaded that within two or three days the situation would become insufferable to the point where the Americans and the Arabs would advise Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to renew negotiations.

      Approximately five months after the outbreak of the intifada (March 3, 2001), Imad Falluji, the PA’s Minister of Communications, admitted that the Second Intifada was not a spontaneous uprising but planned by the PA following the breakdown of the Camp David talks in July 2000.

      According to an AP report, in the course of a visit to Lebanon, Falluji remarked that it would be a mistake to think the intifada had broken out in response to Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount at the end of September. “It was planned since Arafat’s return from Camp David, and his rejection of the American President Bill Clinton’s proposals,” stated Falluji.

      In a November 12, 2011, interview with Yasser Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat, on Palestinian Television, she made reference to the date of Arafat’s decision to initiate the Second Intifada. “Arafat sent us far away before the invasion of Ramallah. He said: ‘You have to leave Palestine, because I want to start an intifada.’…He ordered us to leave because he had already decided to carry out the intifada following the Oslo Accords and the failure of Camp David (the Israeli-Palestinian talks in July 2000).”

      In a Dubai Television interview on December 16, 2012, Suha repeated her version: “Yasser Arafat made a decision to initiate the intifada right after the failure of the Camp David talks. We met in Paris and he asked me to remain there. When I asked why he said ‘because I am going to start an intifada.’” As to Arafat’s motive for starting the intifada, Suha said: “He told me that during the talks he was asked to betray the Palestinian people, but he was not about to do so.”

      Senior Hamas Official: Arafat Gave the Green Light to Terror Immediately After Camp David Summit

      Mahmoud Al-Zahar, one of Hamas’ senior leaders, admitted receiving a green light to initiate terror attacks immediately after the Camp David summit. According to a report in Al Quds (April 9, 2005), Al-Zahar noted that the Palestinian Authority has reached the point that Hamas had warned about, namely the Israeli occupation’s renunciation of the signed agreements with the PLO, making it clear that “due to the failure of the negotiations at Camp David, the PLO began telling Hamas that the gate was now open for carrying out actions [terror attacks against Israel]. Hamas, however, didn’t place credence in these approaches, and despite this it carried out actions under the name of the Forces of Omar Al-Mukhtar.”

      Asharq Alawsat reported on June 29, 2010, that Mahmoud Al-Zahar stated at a ceremony marking the anniversary of the Second Intifada, that “Yasser Arafat ordered the Hamas movement to carry out a number of military actions in the heart of the Hebrew state, after he felt that the current negotiations with the occupation government had failed.”

      In an interview with the official website of the Hamas movement (palestine-info.info) in October 2010, Al-Zahar was asked about his comment regarding the permission that Arafat had granted to begin carrying out terror attacks on the eve of the Second Intifada:

      [Question]: You said in previous comments that President Abu Amar [Yasser Arafat] instructed Hamas to carry out terror attacks while he was besieged in Ramallah. Can we expect that [current Palestinian President] Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] will reach such a stage in his conduct with the [Hamas] movement?

      [Mahmoud Al-Zahar]: Abu Amar did not instruct Fatah to talk with Hamas about carrying out terror attacks as part of a concept that supports resistance, but because he desired to exploit terror attacks for tactical purposes. I remember that I participated in a popular committee [meeting] with senior leaders of the Fatah movement – Hani Al-Hassan, Abu Ali Shahin and Abdullah Al-Hourani – [that took place] in Al-Sheikh Al-Awad Auditorium at Al-Azhar [University in Gaza]. At that time the people attending the conference raised the necessity for Hamas to carry out terror attacks against the Israeli occupation, and this matter was no secret. Abu Amar wanted this as a tactical measure for pressuring Israel via Hamas. Abu Mazen has neither the courage nor the vision, and he is incapable of betting his life on such an issue. With these words I intended to put the idea before the public that resistance was employed at specific points of time for tactical objectives, and it departs from a concept that seeks to improve negotiating conditions. Therefore I’m not interested in a repeat attempt where we will make use of reconciliation and resistance in order to improve negotiating conditions, but it is necessary that they [reconciliation and resistance] be predicated on a strategic concept and perspective.

      Conclusion

      More than ten years after the outbreak of the Second Intifada, there are still journalists, former security officials, and pundits who raise questions about the role of the Palestinian Authority in the devastating violence during which suicide bombing attacks struck Israel’s major cities, leaving more than a thousand dead and many more permanently maimed.

      Israel Channel 10 television’s “The Source” presented in February 2013 what appeared to be a debate between the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Israeli Military Intelligence over this issue. But one does not have to be an intelligence officer to review the statements made by the Palestinian leaders themselves about the origins of the Second Intifada.

      This body of material, presented here in an unvarnished way, reveals that Yasser Arafat and important segments of the Palestinian leadership at that time were directly responsible for what happened and no amount of revisionist history can exonerate Arafat for standing behind one of the bloodiest periods in Israel’s modern history.

      Appendix

      The First Proclamation of the National and Islamic Forces Upon the Outbreak of the Second Intifada

      In the name of Allah the merciful and compassionate,
      Announcement on behalf of the National and Islamic Forces
      Oh members of our grand people,

      The premeditated crime that was committed by the Barak government, that found expression in yesterday’s firing [September 29, 2000] upon worshipers at Al Aqsa Mosque, and the protection extended to these provocative measures by the butcher Sharon who defiled the sacred place (Al Haram Al Sharif), represent the crossing of a red line, a flagrant escalation of the position of haughtiness and derision for our people’s sentiments, a denial of its rights, and an attempt to secure illegal Israeli sovereignty in Al Quds and the holy places.

      The National and Islamic Forces, convening today [September 30, 2000] on the eve of this cruel act of slaughter, announce a summons to the masses of our people to continue the great popular action in protest over the criminal slaughter and the continued Israeli defilement of the sacred place, and other places holy to Islam and Christianity, and under the motto of the struggle to emphasize full Palestinian sovereignty over Al Quds and thwart any plan that stands in contradiction to this sovereignty. In this framework the National and Islamic Forces demand that the Palestinian National Authority refrain from any activity that will restrain the impetus of mass action, and call for:

      A declaration of comprehensive readiness within the ranks of all the organizations to continue the mass activity, the immediate initiation of meetings by the National and Islamic Forces of groups and institutions in various districts and regions in order to pursue the activity. The forum made a decision that it views itself as continuously in session in order to monitor the mass activity.

      An announcement that next Monday [October 2, 2000], the date marking the liberation of Al Quds by the hero Salah A Din Al-Ayoubi, will be a day for escalating comprehensive mass activity in order to liberate the holy city and emphasize Palestinian sovereignty over it.

      A summons to the masses of our people to continue the protest activity in the Al Aqsa Mosque and formulate a plan for organized visits by college students and school pupils at the initiative of the National and Islamic Forces in the [diverse] regions in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Higher Education.

      Congratulations to the masses of our people within the boundaries of 1948 and the masses who announced their steadfastness behind the Al Aqsa [Mosque] who displayed a readiness to sacrifice on its behalf, and who translated this position into unity with the blood that was shed on the soil of blessed Al Aqsa and activity to reinforce the unity of our people wherever it may be in the struggle for the defense of its holy places and on behalf of its legitimate rights.

      The defense system for Al Quds requires measures to reinforce our national unity, the cohesion of our society, and the organization of our internal front, and first and foremost the release of all the political prisoners and a ban on political arrests.

      A demand to halt the negotiations that are currently taking place as a protest against the bloody crime and the continued Israeli derision for our people, the denial of its rights, a matter that makes continued negotiations sterile and fruitless, given Israeli stubbornness and the blind American tendency to back Israel, that found expression in a law recently adopted by the American Congress that merits condemnation.

      A demand for the immediate release of a fighter from the National Security [forces], who fired in Kalkilya at soldiers of the occupation in response to Israeli arrogance and the defilement of the places sacred to Islam, by the Israelis, who bear the complete political and moral responsibility for the explosion of a cycle of violence due to the continued occupation and its continued aggressive and intemperate activities.

      A call upon the Arab and Islamic world, both peoples and governments, to take practical measures to defend Al Quds and its holy places, and express solidarity with our people and sustain its struggle on behalf of the holy city’s liberation, and to emphasize Palestinian sovereignty over it.

      The National and Islamic Forces congratulate the souls of the martyrs [shahids] of the Al Aqsa massacre, and the other martyrs of our people, and we swear before the masses of our people to continue the struggle in fealty to their blood, until the occupation will be removed and the rights of our people to return and enjoy national independence speedily will be extracted by force.

      Victory to our people that is waging a jihad and defeat for the occupation.

      (Signed:)

      The Palestinian National Liberation Movement – Fatah
      The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
      The Palestinian Democratic Union – FIDA
      The Arab Liberation Front
      The Islamic Resistance Movement – Hamas
      The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
      The Palestinian People’s Party
      The Palestinian Popular Struggle Front
      The Palestinian Arab Front