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      PA Officials Reiterate Warning of Renewed 'Armed Struggle'

      A PA official reiterated the oft-repeated threat that Fatah will "return" to armed attacks if negotiations do not produce the results Fatah wants.
      By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
      First Publish: 2/26/2009, 10:55 PM

      A Palestinian Authority official reiterated on Wednesday the oft-repeated threat that Fatah will "return" to armed attacks against Israel if negotiations do not produce the results the movement wants.

      Addressing a pro-Fatah rally of more than 100,000 people in the Samaria city of Shechem (Nablus), the PA Mayor Jamal Muhsein threatened: "Whoever thinks that negotiations are the only choice for Fatah is wrong. On the
      The threat that the PA would "return" to the option of armed struggle is far from a new one.
      contrary, all options are open, including armed struggle, as long as we seek peace and others do not. Jerusalem is the gate to peace as well as the gate to war."

      Another high-ranking local representative of Fatah, which is headed by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, told the crowd that his organization is "renewing its pledge to the PLO as it had done before."

      Regarding reconciliation talks with the Hamas organization underway in Egypt at this time, the Fatah official said that his movement "seeks dialogue and real reconciliation," but first Hamas had to "give the Gaza Strip back to legitimate Palestinian [authority]." Clarifying his view of the relations between the two movements, he added, "We are ready for Hamas to join the PLO, not for the PLO to join Hamas."

      Abbas Also Threatened 'Return to Armed Struggle'
      The threat that the PA would "return" to the option of armed struggle is far from a new one. It has been made regularly, at least once a year, since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993.

      One year ago, almost to the day, in a February 27 interview with Jordan's Al-Dustour newspaper, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas was quoted as saying, "At present, I am against an armed struggle against Israel because we can't do it, but in the coming stages, things may change. ...I do not rule out a return to the way of armed struggle against Israel."

      This is in line with the Fatah Constitution, which states (Article 19): "Armed struggle is a strategy and not a tactic, and the Palestinian Arab People's armed revolution is a decisive factor in the liberation fight and in uprooting the Zionist existence, and this struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated." 

      A Fatah communique issued while the Fatah-led PA was in the midst of negotiations with Israel, in 2001 explained its pursuit of this struggle: "Fatah believes that... a legitimate Palestinian entity forms the most important weapon that Arabs have against Israel."

      A Return to Terrorism?
      Over the years, while Fatah spokespeople were threatening to return to terrorism, their operatives in the field never ceased their participation in terrorist attacks.

      Most recently, on the first day of this month, Abbas's Fatah organization in Gaza claimed to have launched a short-range rocket towards Jewish targets in southern Israel. It was one of three launched that day.

      Other examples of attacks perpetrated by Fatah during the ongoing negotiations with Israel include a double suicide bombing in February of last year. Three people were killed in the attack on an open-air mall in Dimona. In 2007, Fatah claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in the southern city of Eilat that killed three people.