Khaled Abu Toameh
The Jerusalem Post
April 2, 2010 - 12:00am

The new “popular intifada” that Fatah is planning in the West Bank won’t be an armed one, Nabil Shaath, a senior Fatah official, said on Thursday.

Shaath’s clarification came a day after he and some of his colleagues in Fatah called on Palestinians to escalate the “popular resistance” in protest against the settlements, the West Bank security barrier and the decision to build new homes in east Jerusalem.

“Apparently the Palestinian leaderships in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are in control of the situation to make sure that the intifada is not transformed into an armed confrontation,” Shaath explained. “This was not the case during the second intifada.”

Shaath ruled out the possibility that the “popular resistance” would deteriorate into an armed confrontation “in spite of continued Israeli attempts to drag the Palestinians in this direction by using excessive force to confront the protesters.”

According to Shaath, the option of an armed intifada under the current circumstances, where Israel “fully occupies the West Bank and is besieging the Gaza Strip, is impossible.”

However, he stressed that this does not mean that the Palestinians don’t have the right to launch an armed intifada “against an armed occupation and an armed settlement on Palestinian lands.”

He added: “We’re not talking here about whether we have the right to do so or not; obviously, we have the right, but we are talking about whether it would be effective and whether we have the capabilities and desire.”

The Fatah official, whose was one of the architects of the Oslo Accords, said the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip had every right to use guerrilla warfare against Israel because their area was “surrounded with mines, tanks and surveillance balloons that can see every centimeter of the Gaza Strip. He nevertheless emphasized that the conditions there did not allow for the Palestinians to confront a “strong enemy.”

Shaath said that the possibility of breaking the blockade and launching armed attacks outside the Gaza Strip was now impossible – a fact which, he noted, both Hamas and Fatah were well-aware of.

He said that in light of the heavy losses the Palestinians suffered as a result of the use of weapons and suicide bombings during the second intifada, as well as the ongoing power struggle between Fatah and Hamas, it is impossible for Palestinians living in the West Bank to launch another armed uprising.

Shaath revealed that Fatah was now carrying out a strategy that consists of four elements in response to the current political stalemate: pursuing and escalating the “popular resistance,” confronting Israel politically, economically and legally in the international arena, achieving national unity with Hamas and building institutions of the future Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat reiterated on Thursday the PA’s refusal to resume peace talks with Israel unless the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu canceled plans to build new homes in east Jerusalem and halted settlement construction in the West Bank.

Erekat said that indirect talks with Israel, as proposed by US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, would not take place until the plans to build 1,600 new homes in Ramat Shlomo and 20 in Sheikh Jarrah were scrapped. He said that the PA was also demanding that Israel also pledge that it would refrain from authorizing such plans in the future.


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