Arab affairs correspondent Avi Yissacharov, who works for several media agencies including Army Radio, published an interview with the veteran commander of Fatah’s Al-Aksa Brigades terrorist group.
Writing in Haaretz, Yissacharov describes a downtrodden demoralized Zakariya Zubeidi – once the brazen chief of Yasser Arafat’s terrorist arm. He confirms that under Arafat, despite the Oslo Accords, he was receiving clear instructions from the terror chief.
"Everything that was done in the Intifada was done according to Arafat's instructions, but he didn't need to tell us the things explicitly. We understood his message,” Zubeidi reminisced. “Back in [Arafat’s] day, we had a plan, there was a strategy, and we would carry his orders."
Zubeidi is portrayed as having given up terrorism. Yissacharov paints a picture of a late-sleeping unemployed ex-terror chief with no gun and disillusioned with the future of the “struggle for Palestine”:
Zubeidi: "Today I can say explicitly: We failed entirely in the Intifada. We haven't seen any benefit or positive result from it. We achieved nothing. It's a crushing failure. We failed at the political level - we didn't succeed in translating the military actions into political achievements. The current leadership does not want armed actions, and since the death of [Arafat] there's no one who is capable of using our actions to bring about such achievements. When [Arafat] died, the armed Intifada died with him."
Yissacharov: "What happened? Why did it die?"
Zubeidi: "Why? Because our politicians are whores. Our leadership is garbage. Look at Ruhi Fatouh, who was president of the PA for 60 days as Arafat's replacement. He smuggled mobile phones [last week]. Do you understand? We have been defeated. The political splits and schisms have destroyed us not only politically - they have destroyed our national identity. Today there is no Palestinian identity. Go up to anyone in the street and ask him, 'Who are you?' He'll answer you, 'I'm a Fatah activist,' 'I'm a Hamas activist,' or an activist of some other organization, but he won't say to you, 'I am a Palestinian.' Every organization flies its own flag, but no one is raising the flag of Palestine."
Asked if he was not, as a leader of the terror offensive against Israel, admitting defeat, Zubeidi answered: "Even Gamal Abdel Nasser admitted his defeat, so why not me?...We are marching in the direction of nowhere, toward total ruin. The Palestinian people is finished. Done for. Hamas comes on the air on its television station and says 'Fatah is a traitor.' That is to say, 40 percent of the nation are traitors. And then Fatah does the same thing and you already have 80 percent traitors."
Asked why he retired from terrorism, Zubeidi answered: "I got tired. When you lose, what can you do? We, the activists, paid the heavy price. We've had family members killed, friends. They demolished our homes and we have no way of earning a living. And what is the result? Zero. Simply zero. And when that's the result, you don't want to be a part of it any more. Lots of other people, as a result of the frustration, and because Fatah doesn't have a military wing any more, have joined the Islamic Jihad. Those activists are still willing to pay the price.
The terrorist’s assessment of the situation is that the US is running the show in Judea and Samaria, using Fatah as a proxy: “Today the president of the Palestinian people is General Dayton [the US general tasked with training Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas’s forces –ed.]. They're all working for him, he is the boss. A PA no longer exists."
Zubeidi says that when 2008 comes to an end without a Palestinian state, a war will be launched against the Fatah-run PA itself. “I'm telling you that if by the end of 2008 a Palestinian state isn't established, there is going to be a war here,” he said. “Not against Israel, or between Hamas and Fatah, but against the PA. The citizens are going to throw the PA out of here. Today the PA is doing what Dayton and Israel are telling it to do, but at the end of the year, when Israel doesn't give the Palestinians a state, the PA is going to be thrown out. There's going to be an all-out war here, for control of the West Bank."