Hevron Mukhtar Misses Pre-Oslo Days

Sheikh Abu Hader Jaabari says Israel made a bad mistake when it chose dialogue with the PLO instead of local leadership.

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Hezki Baruch and Gil Ronen,

Sheikh Jaabari
Sheikh Jaabari
Arutz Sheva -- Hezki Ezra

The Mukhtar of Hevron, Sheikh Abu Hader Jaabari, says in an exclusive interview with Arutz Sheva that Israel made a bad mistake when it chose dialogue with the PLO instead of local tribal leadership. He says he misses the days that preceded the Oslo Accords.

The interview with Jaabari was conducted at his home, in the presence of Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara.

"I wish we had remained in the pre-Oslo period," Jaabari said. "The situation was much better, at least economically. Today we have over 40% unemployment. Most of the factories have closed down, and drug trafficking within the populace has grown. People find themselves in a vacuum; they look for their path…"

"We are basically a conservative nation. Now there is no conservatism, no anything."

Speaking emotionally and with conviction, Jaabari said that there is no way of establishing a "Palestinian" state. Firstly, he said, Islam forbids Arab leaders from ceding any part of the land, which is considered holy. Therefore, any kind of land compromise is not valid from a religious viewpoint. Secondly, he said, Israel is present everywhere on the land, there are checkpoints everywhere and there is no way to create an independent Arab country, because there is not enough land to create it on.

The solution, he said, is not to divide the land between Jews and Arabs but to establish a single country in which Jews and Arabs will have equal rights. 

Regarding the Jewish fear that Arabs would eventually gain a majority in such a country, he said: "You have a fear of demography. But I think the Arabs are going down demographically and the Jews are only going up. Our women have begun to work and they are content with one or two children."

Ayoub Kara floated the idea that Arabs would have full rights in Israel but would not be able to vote for the Knesset. Sheikh Jaabari said he would agree to this arrangement as a temporary one, until trust was established between Jews and Arabs.

Kara tried to suggest that Palestinians are in effect Jordanians, and do not need an additional state. Jaabari agreed that most Jordanians are Palestinians and that many of the Arabs in Judea and Samaria are Jordanian citizens. However, he said that once Jordan announced its disengagement from Judea and Samaria in 1988 -- the option of "Jordan as Palestine" became difficult to implement. Perhaps a confederation of some sort with Jordan or Israel is still possible, he said, but this too is difficult after the Oslo process, because "everyone wants to be a part of the leadership and if there is no state there is no leadership."

In any case, he said, an independent Palestinian state is not an option.