Translated by Saed Bannoura

Nayef Hawatma, secretary general of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said that the front will support Abbas as long as he remains committed to the national interests of the Palestinian people.

Arab Media Internet Network (AMIN) conducted the following interview with Hawatma,

Q: What is your opinion about the Palestinian presidential elections?

A: In general what happened is a positive step forwards, a step towards democracy and pluralism in the Palestinian political system, we must conduct the same procedures in the municipal election, and the legislative council, and the current council should have been replaced by elections since March 9th, 1999.

The P.A should form election centers for the Palestinians living in Diaspora, in order to build institutions which represent all of the Palestinians, far away from unilateralism and corruption.

Q: Do you consider the municipal elections which were conducted in some Palestinian areas as democratic election, in spite that 55% of the legible voters did not participate.

A: Of course that high percentage of Palestinians who did not participate affects the legitimacy of the lections, but let us look at these election from another angle, what is the alternative?, boycotting the elections is a state of “no opinion”, which increases the unilateralism in the authority and the corruption.

We participated in the elections because they are important in reforming the Palestinian political system, this is a battle we have to go through until the end, (local elections, legislative, national council…)

Q: Your presidential candidate achieved “humble” results, which will reflect itself on further elections, is that true?

A: What our candidate, Taiseer Khaled, achieved was a lot less than what we expected, our expectations were not based on self estimations, it was based on efforts conducted during the election campaign.

Certainly was we are reexamining this experience, in order to benefit from our mistakes in future elections, our candidate was the third out of seven candidates. As for our role as a Democratic Front, we are working among the Palestinians in the country and abroad, we have to protect the struggle of our people, and the sacrifices of this nation.

Q: Does this mean that you depend on your historical role as a leader and a party?

A: No, this is not what I meant, I don’t support the saying of “a historical leader, or a historical party”, a leader should always give, and when he can’t he should resign and give the opportunity to others.

Every party which can’t fulfill its obligations will vanish and be part of history, therefore we in the DFLP are effective, we know what we have to do, I will give you an example.

“The presidential elections of 1996 were only slogans, without programs, this nearly happened in the recent elections, before Taiseer Khaled was chosen as our candidate, there haven’t been clear programs of the candidates, Abu Mazin said in a memorial of the late president Yasser Arafat, that he does not have a program, and that he depends on the “will of Yasser Arafat”.

Therefore, we are entitled to presume that our program forced other candidates to have their own programs; this is the beginning of out path towards unilateralism and democracy in the Palestinian areas and PLO institutions.

Q: But the results did not push forwards the leftist parties in Palestine?

A: You are returning to the same point, can we accept the results of the presidential elections as a measure of the effect of each party, if these elections were the real measure, they should be fair, and in order to be able to know if it was fair or not, this question should be answered, “Why did a huge number of employees who worked in the election committee resign? They said that they resign as a result of “pressures and threats made by officials and security officers”; Dr. Ali Al-Jarbawi resigned before the elections were conducted because he saw the violations and illegal proceedings.

Q: You believe that the elections were not fair?

A: Members of the election committee said that there have been several violations, and several organizations which monitored the elections also said the same thing, fact prove this,’ the unexplained expansion of the voting period, they said that 700.000 residents voted according to civil registration office, they conducted extensive efforts to use the registrations of the civil registration besides the electoral registration, therefore they used the votes of the people who voted through the civil registration besides those who voted in accordance to the electoral registration, this is a flat out game, we have to reexamine everything in order to have future democratic elections.

We asked Abu Mazin to form a coalition government, and to form an election committee which is composed of the Palestinian movements and independent figures.

Q: So, how will you deal with Abu Mazin, who was elected through elections which you a skeptic of its integrity?

A: We leave the investigation of what happened in the election to specialized committees, and we will respect what they decide. We want to preserve our national unity; therefore we will support Abu Mazin as along as he remains committed to the Palestinian interests.

Q: What are those interests, which you demand?

A: Our right of resistance, the implementation of the resolutions of the international community, our right of a Palestinian independent state, the right or return of the Palestinian refugees in accordance to security council resolution Nr. 194.

Q: Are you united as opposition, behind the principles you’ve just mentioned?

A: Who are you referring to as “opposition”?!

Q: You and other leftist parties, besides Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, sand other factions?

A: I answered your questioned with another question, because it wrong, we aren’t in a case of authority and apposition, we are going through a process of liberation, we did not achieve our independence yet, during this stage unity is needed to face the occupation and its expansion programs, we can’t call ourselves as apposition, we are an important section of the liberation process. We are brothers in blood, brothers in decision making”.

Q: Is there anybody who fears that the united leadership will be a replacement of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and other legal institutions?

A: We said that the united leadership is not a replacement of the PLO; it is frame which reinforces the institutions of the PLO and makes it a representative of all Palestinian movements.

Q: Do you thing that Abu Mazin will succeed as a PLO chairman, after he failed as a prime minister?

A: This depends on his political program, he said he will negotiation without preconditions, we believe that the Palestinian legitimate rights are nor preconditions, they are the basis of the negotiation process, his reform program needs actions not words.

Q: But Abu Mazin needs a Hudna “truce” to convince the Israelis back to the negotiations table.

A: Earlier, all Palestinian movements agreed to the Hudna, but it was Sharon who made it collapse, he considered it a Palestinian internal issue, and continued his policy of assassinations, invasions, home demolishing and arrests.

Q: Do you think that Abu Mazin will succeed in convincing the armed factions to accept the truce?

A: He has to guarantee the Israeli agreement first for a mutual Hudna.

Q: Are you placing the wagon in front of the horse?

A: No, am placing the horse in front of the wagon, the operations carried out by the resistance are retaliation to the continuous military crimes, the Palestinians announced a Hudna in 26/6/2003, but it was Sharon who rejected and ended it.

Q: Do you think that Fatah movement is united behind Abu Mazin?

A: I will not go into this issue, Abu Mazin has lots of difficulties ahead, most of these problems were will be internal.

Q: What is the future of the PLO and its role after Arafat?

A: The Palestinian Liberation Organization was and is still the representative of the Palestinian People, it is the address to recreate the Palestinian identity, it was the address of the Palestinians after dozens of years of Arab and Palestinian lose following the 1948 war.

The PLO and its role near rebuilding a national coalition, the Palestinian authority has to revise its unilateral policy, the brothers in Hamas and the Jihad have to conduct their step towards a united political program.

After they announced that they are ready to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, the only way now to create a wide national coalition is to create a leadership which includes all movements and institutions, the PLO is recognized on the Arab and International levels, it is the biggest achievement of the Palestinians.

Q: What about the Intifada, and calls by Abu Mazin to demilitarize it as a precondition to resume the political process?

A: Israel wants the Palestinian cause to be placed in front of conditions which are not related to the international legitimacy, there is a misunderstanding of the Intifada and extremely dangerous terms, such as “militarizing the Intifada”, this concept equals between the limited capacities of the resistance with the massive military power of Israel, this is a national Intifada, people living under occupation and all sorts of violations facing one of the most powerful armies, which is occupying their land.

The Intifada is a strategic project to rebuild the formula, and the political process, Oslo agreements dealt with the Palestinian cause in partiality, the who peace process should be rebuilt on the right basis in order to conduct negotiations which will lead to the return of the Palestinian rights, the right of independence, and establish a Palestinian independent state on the 1967 border with Jerusalem as the capital, the right of return to the Palestinian refugees, Palestinian negotiators should be committed to these standards, and run the negotiations to the interest of the Palestinian people.

Al-Aqsa Intifada managed to create a new reality, that’s why we consider it a strategic project, it managed to void the American-Israeli proposals which did not offer any real solutions to the Palestinian cause, these solutions only aim to increase the Israeli colonial policies in the Palestinian territories.

We believe that the Intifada will continue, because it is the choice of the Palestinians, and their power to counter the partial policies. Our people learned through time that Israel always assassinated the reached agreements, starting with Oslo, and the American-Israeli solutions, therefore the resistance will not subdue to partiality, and the Intifada will continue, united and a unified national program in order not to waste the opportunity to benefit from the achievements of the Intifada, as it happened in the past.