Translated by George Rishmawi-IMEMC
Abu Mazin: Things would have been different, had Sharon suggested the Disengagement Plan to us earlier
The former Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazin) held the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon together with the American Administration responsible for the failure of his government that lasted for four months only.
In an interview he gave to the Israeli TV, Abu Mazin said that he support Sharon’s disengagement plan and said that had Sharon agreed to the withdrawal he is talking about earlier, Abbas’s government would have achieved its goals.
Abu Mazin accused the American administration of not giving any support to his government more than ‘commencing’ which harmed the government more than it helped it.
According to Abu Mazin, the militarization of the Intifada is a mistake, because it helps Sharon play his military game the only thing he excels in.
He adds; Israel has wasted a golden chance for peace by rejecting the Arab Initiative proposed by the Saudi Kingdom and approved in the Arab Summit in Beirut.
Abu Mazin questioned why Israel would reject such an initiative which includes a full normalization of relations with the Arab countries [something that Israel never dreamed of] in exchange of Israel’s withdrawal from the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The full text of the interview made by Oded Granot:
Q. You have mentioned earlier three major reasons for your resignation and hinted that your position could have been better had Sharon proposed the Disengagement plan earlier.
A. In fact, Sharon was asked, ‘why he did not propose this plan to Abu Mazin’ and he claimed that I did not ask for it, which is untrue. We have asked Israel repeatedly to evacuate Gaza Strip so our Security devices can control it. In the five meetings we had together I asked him to do anything to help my government to start a first step to revive the peace process, but he refused.
Had he done something in a positive direction, it would have backed the government.
The disengagement in the meaning of a complete evacuation of the military and the settlements in Gaza strip and some settlements and military posts in the West Bank would have been an excellent move to take.
Q. So, this is one, was the second, the internal incitement against you, or the demonstrations against the government in the Palestinian areas?
A. ‘This was in my government’s time. Demonstrations started as the government was established, and lasted for one week. The crowds demanded prisoners’ release, and Wall construction seizure and other things. In fact, we were incapable of fulfilling any of their demands, because we were have just started, and we thought the time still did not come to demonstrate against us, we did not take our chance.
The day I delivered my first speech at the Palestinian Legislative Council, on September 4, 2003, there was a huge violent demonstration with unknown reasons to me, at least, which had me in the second speech, on September 6, to submit my resignation.
Q. Have you ever felt your life is threatened as you have hinted in previous interviews?
A. There was a threat. The purpose was clear enough in the eyes of the demonstrators, could be a use of power. When I thought there might be more than demonstrating, I preferred to resign.
Q. Who was running these operations and demonstrations?
A. Some people who were either unsatisfied with the government or do not want it.
Q. So, the third reason is that President Bush did not help you.
A. I was planning to start Palestinian-American-Israeli talks to discuss the final status issues. That could have helped us win some time and avoid all things that happened.
Q. Secret meetings, without any media publicity?
A. Yes. I hoped we could discuss the very sensitive issues, like the borders, Jerusalem, settlements and the refugees and others. However, the Bush Administration did not give a quick support to our government. It gave us commencing words which harmed us badly.
Q. Do, you support the Disengagement Plan?
A. Of course I do. Let me be clear here. We fully support the disengagement plan if meant to be a complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and some positions in the West Bank as part of the Road Map.
Q. Do you still believe that all military actions should stop?
A. I have repeatedly said that the military Intifada is unnecessary because it makes the Palestinians play in Sharon’s court who does not know anything else but the military. I have said, and still saying that the armed Intifada is not good for the Palestinians.
Q. Are you optimistic with the effectiveness of the Egyptian role to calm things down and reach a cease-fire?
A. The Egyptian role can be summed up in two issues; to help train and rehabilitate the Security forces, but the Palestinians need to merge them in three.
Q. And cease the fire?
A. Of course there are many issues, first, ceasing all the operations, internal dialogue including all the factions then resume the reforms and get back to negotiations and meetings between us and the Israelis.
Q. Do you think the Egyptian role will be successful?
A. I think there is good chance for it
Q. What do you think of Geneva Initiative?
A. It is important that Palestinian know that there are Israelis who want peace and the same for the Israelis. I support Geneva Initiative in this respect. However, some details and issues that can not be binding to anybody. We want real peace based on the International legitimacy. Details can be later defined and agreed upon between two governments. There is an initiative presented by President Bush based on two states solutions and ending the occupation that started in 1967. There is also the Arab initiative that Israel rejected that is included in the Road Map. The Arab Initiative had some magic words like, ‘normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab countries, then the Islamic countries.’ Israel had never dreamed of that.
Q. Do you think of coming back to office ever?
A. I can be there whether in office or out, I can work without being in the government and also cast my opinion. I wish all the best for the current government and if it succeeded, I will be their soldier for sure.