Translated by: Saed Bannoura
Unlike other interview with political leaders, in fancy offices and on comfortable desks and chairs, Palestine News Network held this interview over the phone with Abdul-Rahim Mallouh, in his detention.
Mallouh, deputy secretary general of the second biggest party in the PLO, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The leader of the front, Ahmad SaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢adat, is also detained but in a Palestinian Jail, guarded American and British guards, in Jericho.
Mallouh was sentenced to seven years in jail, in addition to two years on parole.
The interview with Mallouh concentrated on the latest events and situation, especially after the death of the Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat, and the after Arafat period.
Mallouh was born in Yaffa, in 1945, and holds the position of the acting leader of the front.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was arrested on June, 11th, 2002 in Ramallah, and was transferred to Ofer detention, near the city, then was transferred to the oldest and worst interrogation center in Petah Tikva, they placed me in old cells, which were used by the British occupation, during interrogation I faced them with facts about my leading position in the PLO and the PFLP and the way I entered the occupied territories after the PLO signed the peace deal with Israel, I used to travel between the Palestinian areas and abroad, last time I traveled abroad was in 2001Ã¢â‚¬Â.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was not tortured during interrogation, they charged me with financing the resistance, and membership in a Ã¢â‚¬Å“terrorist organizationÃ¢â‚¬Â, and that I was one of the leaders who decided to assassinate Zeevi, the Israeli Minister of Tourism, they have nothing against me, I came to the country after the PLO signed a political agreement with Israel, my arrests in a sort of abductionÃ¢â‚¬Â, Mallouh said.
Mallouh told PNN that prison administration in Majeddo detention is always trying to block phone calls, and repeatedly attacks the detainees;
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I told the judge about these facts, but he said that Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthere are people who die long before they are officially pronounced deadÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, the judge said referring to denying the peace deals signed with the PLOÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Mallouh added that his trial continued until Ofer military court dropped all charges related to military actions.
Mallouh said that this is the first time in which a military court sentences a Palestinian for a high sentence for belonging to a movement, which reveals that Israeli courts sentenced the Palestinians on political basis and considerations.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“According to the Israeli law, membership in a political faction means imprisonment for two years, or less, but this policy aims to isolate the Palestinians and their leadership by these high termsÃ¢â‚¬Â, Mallouh added.
Commenting on the imprisonment of Ahmad SaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢adat, Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Mallouh said that this is a comprehensive trial to the PFLP, and that the arrest of SaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢adat is a mistake which the P.A and some leaders are held responsible to, since SaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢adat is in a Palestinian Prison guarded by American and foreign forces.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are now trying to find a way out of these crises, it is not only a crisis of the PFLP, it is a crisis which the P.A has to face and solveÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Mallouh said that he believes that the elections are important and needed especially after the death of the Palestinian president, and the need to renew legitimacy to the already weakened institutions in the P.A.
Commenting on a candidate for presidency Mallouh said that the democratic and leftist parties are negotiating the issue in an attempt to specify a candidate.
Mallouh added that he respects the call of Dr, Haidar Abdul-Shafi to nominate Dr, Mustafa Barghouthi for presidency, and that the PFLP respect Dr. Barghouthi, but Dr, Barghouthi is a candidate of the Palestinian Initiative and not a candidate of the left wing.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Personally, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t intends to run for presidency, as for running to the secretary general of the front, I think we have a period of time to discuss this issueÃ¢â‚¬Â, Mallouh said,
Insecurity in the Palestinian areas:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“After the Israeli army raided that Palestinian city, villages and refugee camps in the West Bank, the P.A was severely weekend, Israel is directly responsible of the current situation, as for the Gaza Strip, the situation is chaotic, several groups misused their arms, but everybody is held responsible, including the P.A and all parties and factionsÃ¢â‚¬Â, Mallouh said.
The Unilateral Disengagement Plan:
When asked about SharonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s disengagement plan which Sharon presented and claimed that he will go on and implement it, Mallouh said that the front welcomes any withdrawal from the Palestinian territories but without preconditions and bargains.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sharon by withdrawing from Gaza is trying to legitimize the Israeli occupation in the West BankÃ¢â‚¬Â, Mallouh said.
Mallouh added that as long as there is occupation, there is resistance, Ã¢â‚¬Å“No one can force the parties to disarm while our land is still occupiedÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Evaluation of the Front in its anniversary:
Since the Front it was established in December 11, 1967, it played an important role in the Palestinian Israeli conflict, it has great leaders such as George Habash, the Former Security General oh the PFLP, and martyr Abu Ali Mustafa, and Ahmad SaaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢dat, and it also has several authors and writers such as Ghassan Kanafani.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The PFLP is unified, but we need a leadership in the Palestinian areas, and in Diaspora, because, this is the same problem all factions face, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not only our problemÃ¢â‚¬Â, Mallouh said.
Mallouh said that he believes that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad should be part of the PLO, and stressed on the necessity to modify the political program of the PLO and form either a unified leadership or hold a session in the Palestinian National Council in order to prepare for the legislative elections which are considered a sort of a public poll.
The absence of the Palestinian President
Ã¢â‚¬Å“President Arafat was a unique character, in spite of our difference in the PFLP, concerning his policy, we always discussed and cooperated in different issues, his absence left a wide gap, we need to organize our efforts along with other factions in order to fill the gap after the death of president Arafat, I am not to judge who is fit for the leadership and who isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t, the Palestinian ought to decide this issueÃ¢â‚¬Â, Mallouh said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Any new leader cannot abandon ArafatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s style and steadfastness, even if he wanted toÃ¢â‚¬Â
Mallouh said that the steadfastness of the Palestinians and their leadership is based on solid grounds of justice and the right to resist the occupation.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The issue of political detainees is a humanitarian case; the detainees are freedom fighters, the occupation deals with them as security prisoners, and not as prisoners of war, therefore the Israeli authorities do not deal with them in accordance to the Fourth Geneva ConventionsÃ¢â‚¬Â, Mallouh said.
Mallouh added that any agreement with Israel will not succeed if it does not deal with the case of political detainees in a positive and a clear manner.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Any truce will fail if it neglects the issue of detainees, the detainees should not be a winning card in the hands of the Israeli government, throughout history, whenever there was a truce, detainees were released as part of the comprehensive dealÃ¢â‚¬Â, Mallouh added.
The Prisoners and elections:
Mallouh said that it is essential that the detainees take part in the upcoming elections, they should be allowed to vote under international supervision.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They are political detainees; they carry a just and fair cause, presence of international observers is part of the legitimacy of their cause, and international recognition that they are political detaineesÃ¢â‚¬Â, Mallouh said.