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BBC Monitoring Middle East - Political
Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring
December 20, 2006 Wednesday
Text of speech by Palestinian premier 20 December
LENGTH: 11015 words
Palestinian Prime Minister Isma'il Haniyah has stressed the need for national unity. He said President Abbas's speech required "clarifications". He spoke of the "economic and financial siege", "political isolation" and "open war" which his government faced. He outlined a number of points necessary to achieve national reconciliation. He stressed the need to safeguard the unity of Palestinians, including those in the diaspora. He said that dialogue was of the utmost priority and called for an end to infighting. He said the results of elections must be respected and dealt with. He called for on the basis of the national accord. He called for the release of all those kidnapped by Hamas or Fatah. He called on the interior minister to hold a meeting immediately with the security agencies to adopt common measures to restore security. Following is the text of speech by Palestinian Prime Minister Isma'il Haniyah in Gaza; as broadcast live by Palestinian TV on 19 December
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. "O my Lord! expand me my breast; ease my task for me and remove the impediment from my speech, so they may understand what I say." "'Our Lord!' (they say), 'Let not our hearts deviate now after Thou hast guided us, but grant us mercy from Thine own Presence; for Thou art the Grantor of bounties without measure.'" [Koranic verses] As I begin this comprehensive speech, I send my warmest greetings to all the Palestinian people at home and in exile and to all peoples in our Arab and Islamic nation who have constituted and continue to constitute backing and support for the Palestinians. I appreciate their warm feelings and their love for the Palestinian people and their just cause. Greetings to our pious martyrs who watered this blessed land with their blood. Greetings to our brave sons who suffered injuries, our heroic prisoners in Israeli jails who are spending the best part of their lives in captivity for the sake of our dignity and freedom, for the sake of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and our sanctities, and for the sake of Palestine. Greetings and God's mercy to the martyrs who fell during the current painful events which have been going on in dear parts of our blessed Palestinian land since the events at the [Rafah] Crossing and until this movement. All those who fell as martyrs are our sons, whether they are from the Hamas Movement or Fatah, and whether they are from the security services or others. They are all our men, our sons, the sons of Palestine. We have lived and always learned that the Palestinian blood is precious, and that it should be shed in well-known places; namely, in defence of our land, people, and sanctities. It is the price of emancipation from the occupation and the restoration of rights, including and topped by the rights of the refugees to return to their land and homes.
Here I would like to send my thanks and appreciation for our Arab and Muslim brothers who received me and the Palestinian delegation during the outgoing tour and visits. This has had a great impact on us and our people. These states welcomed and embraced us and emphasized that the Palestinian cause is the cause of the [Islamic/Arab] nation, that the besieged Palestinian people cannot be left alone to face this unjust siege. We express our thanks and appreciation for our Arab and Islamic states and the peoples of this great and blessed nation.
O my Palestinian people. We have heard President Abu-Mazin's [Mahmud Abbas] speech. This speech touched on many issues and topics that made it necessary for us in the government to clarify our views and stands on them, not by way of retorts and argumentation and not to display certain stands but out of our desire to give a testimony for history and to defend the trust that we accepted and to which we committed ourselves in front of our Palestinian people; namely, that we will always provide them with the facts about what is going on in terms of our Palestinian conditions and all domestic and external developments.
These clarification are in two parts. The first was what the interior minister presented at his news conference where he explained the security developments since he took over as interior minister and until now. Today I would like to pause at several points, especially the political issues, discussions, and the points that the president raised on meanings and cultures. I will be addressing our people inside the occupied Palestinian territory as well as our people who have been living in exile and in the diaspora for over 50 years.
Here I would like to note that as Palestinians we are all in the same boat, on the same ship, and that we are all eager to take this ship to the shores of safety. Our people must enjoy freedom, return, and independence. I reiterate that we are in the same trench. There are political differences. Perhaps, these differences caused wounds. The Palestinian people will remain united in the face of the occupation. Despite the wounds inflicted upon us in the past days, they will not engage in infighting. They will rectify matters and redirect efforts to the programme of liberation, restoration of rights, and protecting the dignity of the Palestinian people. However, I emphasize, based on our responsibility and position, and my affiliation to my religion, my creed, and my Palestinian people and nation, that these people will remain united in the face of the occupation and aggression and will not engage in internecine battles despite the wounds that have afflicted us over these past days.
Our people will rectify matters and point the compass once again towards the project of emancipation, the restoration of our rights, and the protection of the dignity of these people, this great heroic people, who are steadfast, firm, and in readiness. They are people who started this blessed intifadah and offered this splendid model of sacrifices and suffered all these torments and deaths. These people will not fail their nation or their loving brothers by engaging in any internecine battles that might expand to reach the extent, God forbid, of what the enemies and occupiers and the haters of this great Palestinian people have been planning.
"Important turning points" for Palestinians
O Palestinian people, O sons of our and Islamic nation. We have bypassed one of the important turning points in the history of our Palestinian movement, perhaps starting with the dialogues and the understandings that were reached within the Cairo dialogue agreement on 17 March 2005. This agreement was based on several pillars. The first was holding municipal and legislative elections that would end by the late 2005. Secondly it was based on emphasizing the restructuring, development, and the revitalization of the PLO because it is considered the broad arena for all our Palestinian people at home and abroad. Thirdly, taking due consideration of our Palestinian people's supreme national interests in completing the Israeli enemy withdrawal from Gaza Strip, so that the Palestinian people might enjoy freedom and sovereignty over a dear part of the Palestinian territory that has been liberated by resistance, steadfastness, and unity.
In light of this agreement, we decided to participate in parliamentary elections. Some of our brothers in the Palestinian arena blamed us saying that we had not been part of the political system, or part of the Palestinian [National] Authority; that we were seeking an alternative authority, that we were moving outside the official framework. Everyone had been reiterating that the Hamas Movement should be part of the political system. Intellectuals, analysts, and leaders said that the way to do that and put the Palestinian house in order were elections.
The legislative elections were held with fairness and transparency, and the Palestinian people were proud of these elections. In fact many analysts thought that the legislative elections would be a cause for Palestinian divisions and infighting. However, our people and national and Islamic factions cooperated and reached agreement and presented these elections in this clean and civilized manner, this democratic manner of which boasted in front of the entire world. We said that this was a source of pride for people who were suffering under occupation and yet held such elections. It was unparalleled in many world countries.
In fact when we as a Movement decided to participate in elections, we were sincere in our desire to strengthen national unity, develop the political system, end monopolization of decisionmaking, and develop the Palestinian strategy based on political pluralism.
The elections were held and the results were announced. The Palestinian people granted their confidence to the Hamas Movement, by electing the parliamentary majority from the Movement. This means that they voted for adhering to Palestinian rights and constant principles, for reform, for change, for t he plan of steadfastness, firmness, and resistance. Thus the parliament was formed in this way and all components of the Palestinian arena were represented.
From the moment the results were declared, and perhaps even before that, during our election programme, we spoke of the need to form a national unity government. This is because we had believed that the Palestinian cause and the complex reality and conditions required the existence of national unity government in order to strengthen political pluralism. Thus we began a broad and profound dialogue with all the brothers in the Palestinian arena, with all nationalist and Islamic forces, and with independent figures of prominence. Personally, after President Abu-Mazin asked me to form the government, I visited many prominent and political figures and I met with the various forces and factions. The Movement formed its delegation to the talks with our brothers in the nationalist and Islamic forces. We spent almost all of the constitutional time we were given to enable us to form the government in holding this dialogue with all our bothers in the arena. We were careful and concerned - and that was absolutely not rhetoric - to establish a national unity government. However, this aim was not to be realized.
Here I would like to pause at some remarks by brother Abu-Mazin. He said that all the factions refused to participate with Hamas in such a government because Hamas refused to recognize the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
Here I would like to recall the programme that we amended many times until it took its final shape and which we presented to our brothers in the nationalist and Islamic forces, with emphasis on matters related to the PLO.
It was as follows: Concerning the PLO, the Cairo understandings issued on 17 March 2005 say: The conferees agreed to develop and activate the PLO in accordance with the principles that would later be agreed upon, so the PLO would include all Palestinian forces and factions, making it true to its description as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Thus a committee was formed to define these bases. The committee would be formed from the speaker of the Palestine National Council, the members of the PLO Executive Committee, the secretaries generals of all factions, and independent Palestinian figures. The PLO Executive Committee chairman would issue calls for such meetings.
That was the formula mentioned in the Cairo understandings and we of course were part of these understandings. Now look at the programmes which we presented to the Palestinian nationalist and Islamic factions. There are many points but I just would like to discuss the issue of the PLO and the reasons why these forces and factions did not agree to participate with the Hamas Movement.
In point eight of this programme, which we presented to the brothers on 19 March 2006 - and this perhaps was the final formula reached after prolonged discussions - we said: The government reiterated what was agreed by the Palestinian factions at the Cairo dialogue in March of 2005 on the issue of the PLO; namely, restructuring and revitalizing it on democratic basis, ensuring the participation of all and emphasizing the need to speed efforts to implement the necessary measures to do that.
Then where is the problem? We say that these are the Cairo understandings. In our programme presented to the national and Islamic forces during the dialogue held on the issue of the national unity government, we reaffirmed what was mentioned in this formula. Therefore, the problem was not at all because of us. It had nothing to do with the PLO at all.
O our people, our nation, I would like to say sincerely and frankly that the failure of certain forces to participate was due to several reasons. For instance, some of our brothers in the arena found it difficult to participate in a H AMAS-led government.
One day, one of the brother figures said at a big rally: It would be shameful for the Fatah Movement to participate in a Hamas-led government. There was another dimension related to psychology, absorbing others into the political system, the results of the elections, and the inability to digest the results. Therefore, in light of this it was impossible to form the national unity government. Some even said that this government was a failure, and that in one or two months the government would fall, so why participate in such a government? There were US and external pressures exercised on certain figures, names, and forces to prevent them from participating in the government. The Americans threatened that whoever participates in this government would be classified as a terrorist. Therefore, this issue has nothing to do with the PLO. I have already explained matters related to the PLO.
I also add to this my own arguments during my speech and the policy statement that I presented to the Legislative Council. I spoke very clearly on the issue of the PLO. Anyone who wants to go back to it is welcome to do so. The statement based on which I won the vote of confidence was very clear on the PLO issue, to the extent that some brothers, and to be exact the comrades in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP], having heard the statement, started to contact us for a possible participation in the government. This proves that the PLO was not the problem. The PFLP comrades wanted to enter into the government. I delayed presenting the names of the members of the government for taking oath before president Abu-Mazin by 48 hours because I had been waiting for a response from the PFLP brothers on the issue of their participation. Of course, they made another decision later and we respect their decisions in this regard. In the same statement, I said that the door of the government would be open to every faction and every Palestinian figure desirous of participating in the national unity government.
Then we formed the government and we went to parliament alone and shouldered the responsibility. We told our people, this great people who gave us their vote of confidence, that we were worthy of their trust and we would accept their trust and go to parliament. We have done our part during these dialogues and for reasons that I have just mentioned they did not want to participate in the government.
From the very moment when we formed the government, we found ourselves facing absolutely abnormal circumstances and in more than one direction.
The first was the external direction. There was an economic and financial siege, an attempt to impose political isolation on this government, preventing it from interacting, not even with regional and international sides, and then unleashing Israel to kill, destroy, and tamper with Palestinian land and people, creating a climate of lawlessness. Because of this large-scale aggression against our Palestinian people, we began to live under these conditions from the first moment. There was financial and economic siege, political isolation, and an open war.
In terms of the political isolation, we want our people and our [Arab/Islamic] nation as well to know that conferences are being held in the region, discussing issues related to the Palestinian cause or some of its aspects. We, the government, are not invited to attend these conferences and meetings. Palestine is represented by some brothers who have nothing to do with the government at all. Within attempts at political isolation, brother President Abu-Mazin did not meet with the government, not even once, over the past nine months. Our brother, the president, who uses the expression this is my government, has not met with the government. In his Arab or non-Arab tours he never included any minister in his delegation. He has not asked any minister to come to his headquarters in Ramallah or here in Gaza, to receive with him any Arab or non-Arab minister who happens to be visiting Palestine. This never happened.
I asked brother Abu-Mazin about this. He said that some states do not want to deal with the government. This may be true but there are states that deal with the government. Some states received us. We visited them. Some Arab ministers came to the area and they did not object to the presence of one or two ministers from the government.
This exclusion was very clearly part of attempts at the political isolation of this government, in conjunction with the financial and economic siege of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian government. This is in addition to the aggressions that you have seen - the siege, the closure of the crossings, the sea blockade, and the freezing of more than $600 million withheld by the Israelis. We have lived through this from the beginning. The other direction had to do with internal conditions.
From the beginning we experienced the measures of withdrawing the prerogatives of this government. The powers of this government were transferred to the presidential office. Therefore, we formed a government without money - indeed it was in debt to the value of $1,300 million. We formed a government without media. The official Palestinian television, which is supposed to belong to the Ministry of Information, was not with the government. Of course I appreciate the efforts of all my brother workers in the media. I had always wanted the Palestinian television to reflect the beautiful climate of expressing the ideas of its government. However, I would like to point out that my tour as a prime minister visiting the sisterly states of Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain, Syria, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Sudan and meeting with presidents, leaders, and figures, was not covered by the Palestinian television. It did not cover it despite the fact that this is my television, the television of the Palestinian government and people.
Therefore, we formed a government without media, without money, without crossings, and without embassies, so much so that some employees in some ministries contacted our Palestinian ambassadors and said they wanted to deal with them on certain issues directly and not through the Palestinian foreign minister.
This is just one of these letters [holding a paper to the camera]. An employee, the under secretary of a ministry, sends to all ambassadors the following letter. This is the text: 'We would like to inform Your Excellency that the correspondence between us and you should be direct, and not through the Foreign Ministry, because of the policies and movements of Foreign Minister Mahmud al-Zahhar. Therefore, we hope the correspondence will be sent directly through the office of the under secretary - her name is written and I do not want to mention it - or through the General Regional and International Relations Administration.
This letter was written by an employee and there are many like it. It addresses the ambassadors and tells them not to deal with the foreign minister and that the embassies should contact the employees directly. Some circulars were distributed to certain ambassadors asking them to stop dealing with the foreign minister.
Therefore, we assumed the task of forming this government under these conditions and in this form. The powers were withdrawn and recommendations were not approved. This government has adopted about 100 decisions over the past nine months within what is called top-grade employees. President Abu-Mazin approved only 24 of them. For the past six or seven months we have been discussing these decisions with brother Abu-Mazin and he has been giving us promises but these decisions continue to be frozen. Moreover, we have been employing very qualified people to strengthen the Palestinian Aut hority. Some 48 holding the bachelor degree - this is mentioned in the statistics [holding papers to the camera] and they are now with the president - 25 holding the master's degree, and 15 holding the doctoral degree in various specialties. We are not adding a burden to the government burdens but this is a qualitative addition to the administration. Yet, they have not been approved so far. Therefore, powers are withdrawn, decisions are not approved.
We have also experienced the issue of protests. One month after the elections and the government, we faced armed protests and the demands for salaries and so on. Later we entered into the matter of the prisoners document and events that was associated with it. Then we faced the open-ended strikes, especially in the health and education sectors. An almost total strike prevailed in the West Bank area. We did not turn our backs to these strikes. Time and again, we sat with the brothers, the union leaders, and the federation representatives. Sometimes we reached agreements and understandings with the brother strikers but they used to receive instructions from certain individuals who were close to the president telling them not to implement the agreements that were held with the government.
As recently as three or four days ago, an agreement was reached and it was about to be signed under the auspices of the president and the prime minister. Suddenly, when the brothers went to the presidential office to sit with the teachers and officials and health ministry employees, Dr Rafiq al-Husayni, the director of President Abu-Mazin's office presented new conditions and mechanisms to delay the process of signing the agreement of which the strikers approved. This was within our commitment to these various sectors.
We have lived through this. We are still living through it. We did not capitulate. We visited Arab, Islamic, European, and Latin American states and we collected money. Perhaps during the latest tour of the prime minister and his delegation, we secured about $700 million. Additional funds might also come from inside the country or from the Arab League and this will definitely end the issue of the siege and tackle this crisis which the Palestinian people are living through. This crisis will certainly not continue. Therefore, we acted on many levels to solve this problem. We paid visits and signed bilateral agreements, and we discussed political formulas with European states and, yes, we also presented political concepts even concerning the Palestinian people's national aim of establishing their state within the 1967 borders, our vision of this issue, and how we treated it.
Here I also would like to refer to the president's speech. He said: The brothers had been saying: We want all of Palestine, and suddenly they started talking about the 1967 borders and a 15-year truce. The president added: This means that we will have to live for 15 more years to begin the phase of the process of calm.
This is not what we said. We are talking about a truce after the establishment of a state within the 1967 borders, for 10 or 15 years. We do not want to wait for 15 years. This means that if the Israelis want to leave the 1967 areas tomorrow, then we will give them 10 or 20 years truce and it can be renewed. The time period has nothing to do with it. It does not mean that our people will have to wait for 15 years. It means that the truce that might last 10 or 15 years would be after the establishment of the Palestinian state and after the occupation's approval of this state. We wanted to draw up details for this issue in one form or another.
Now to the issue of the dialogues. I mean by this the dialogues that began with the prisoners document. Here I would like to explain something. We do not intend to use this issue as a chip on the table of political blackm ail. The issue sounds as if there are some who support the prisoners and detainees and some others who are opposed to them. We do not do this. The resistance factions know how to deal with the prisoners and how to handle the cause of the prisoners. But I would like to pause at certain points in the prisoners document.
The first point is that the [Abbas] speech - this one or the one before it - says: We told the brothers to agree to the prisoners document and they refused, and adds: Two or three weeks later they returned to the prisoners document. It means that we wasted three weeks of the time of the Palestinian people and then we returned to document. This is not true. The prisoners document was subjected to internal Palestinian discussion, both in Ramallah and in Gaza. Amendments were introduced to it. Hamas approved it based on these amendments. We did not wait for three weeks and then accept what we had rejected. We accepted the version to which the necessary amendments were introduced. One can go back to the prisoners document and see the original text which was issued from the Hadarim prison, from the brother leaders whom we salute and acclaim, the great leaders who participated in drafting this document, the brother leader Marwan al-Barghuthi, the brother leader Al-Sa'di, brother leader Abd-al-Khaliq al-Natshah, the brother leader Mullah. This was the original document, after discussing it we introduced amendments and approved it.
Secondly, why should the one who loves the prisoners and who sponsors their document and who wants to deal with this document not commit himself to forming a national unity government based on the national reconciliation document, which is the prisoners document? We are saying: Come and let us form a government based on the reconciliation document, which had been called the prisoners document? Who is turning his back to the prisoners document? Who is turning his back to the national reconciliation document? Some might say that there is talk about plans to form a national unity government based on the national reconciliation document. However, when we enter into the details of the dialogue we find that the terms of the dialogue are different and the terms of what we are presented with undermine the national reconciliation document. I will explain this.
We completed the document and arranged it as a political basis for a national unity government. After that we arrived at the issue of the guidelines [al-muhaddidat]. I would like to briefly discuss some aspects of this issue. The guidelines were approved. The security considerations of the Hamas Movement are extremely complicated - in the West Bank, abroad, and with the prisoners. When they sent this paper to the brothers in their various places, some observations were received. Before our brother Abu-Mazin travelled from Gaza to Ramallah and to Amman, I met him at his house in the presence of Dr Ziyad Abu-Amr. I told him that these guidelines on which the brothers in Fatah and Hamas agreed and which were signed by the people are supported by us as they are but there are certain emendations that I would like to present to you. He said: What are they? I said that the word resistance must be mentioned in point one. Abu-Amr said, brother Abu-al-Abd [Haniyah] this can be mentioned in the statement that the government will present to the Legislative Council. We said all right, we agree.
We said there was no need for mentioning the issue of the negotiations higher committee because political talks were continuing on it. Concerning the [Saudi peace] initiative, we said that instead of initiative, we would like to use the term that was mentioned in the national reconciliation document and which everyone signed. He asked: What was that? I told him: The Arab legitimacy. The Arab legitimacy is a loose term that take s all interpretations. If one wants the initiative he will discern it and those who do not want the initiative will not see it, so let us return to the term that was mentioned in the national reconciliation document. Brother Abu-Mazin said that it would be difficult now to introduce any changes on this point. Therefore, we agreed to keep the door for dialogue open.
No sooner had brother Abu-Mazin left Gaza than certain brother officials at the presidential office issued statements claiming that Hamas conceded the constant principles, approved two-state solution, and moved to the opposite position. Thus, people started wondering, given the media clamour and the atmosphere that was created, and this required an explanation.
Brother Abu-Mazin says that he went to the Americans and he found many statements, but in fact the first statements on the issue of the guidelines were issued there. Therefore we contacted Dr Abu-Amr and some others and we told them to contact these people to stop these statements because this would require responses. Therefore, we issued responses to explain our position; namely, that we are still at our political position, that these guidelines mean this, this, and this.
The president mentioned the issue of the Arab initiative in a way that gave the impression that as a government, we were engaged in a battle with our Arab brothers, especially with our brothers, the dear ones, in Saudi Arabia, whom we respect and appreciate. We do not forget their genuine Islamic and Arab stand towards the Palestinian people and their cause. But to say that that we do not want their initiative, as though we are against them, is impermissible. They cannot say that. We told the Arab League secretary general and all our brothers: We have no problem with our brothers on the issue of the initiative. The problem is between all of us, the Arab brothers on the one and Israel on the other. Israel does not accept the initiative. No sooner had the initiative been announced, than Sharon occupied the West Bank and besieged president Abu-Ammar, may God have mercy on his soul. We told them that when the Israelis say they approve the Arab imitative, we will have no problem with you. We are part of the Arab nation, we are in the Arab fold. We said that if the initiative talks about a state within the 1967 borders, then all the Hamas leaders and the entire government will agree with our Arab brothers. Let us have a state within the 1967 borders.
There is a flaw in the initiative compared to our political vision. This is related to its provisions but we said let the Israelis approve it first and we will have no problem with our Arab brothers on this issue.
Then we moved to the issue of the visit to Gaza by Qatari Foreign Minister Shaykh Hamad who also visited Damascus and met with Mr Khalid Mish'al and his brothers and the Hamas political bureau members and then came to Gaza. He met with the president and his aides and then he met with us. Our brother Abu-Jabr [Shaykh Hamad], the Qatari foreign minister, presented a paper to us and we discussed certain issues and we gave him some observations and said that, God willing, we would return back to him. He said: I will go to brother Abu-Mazin and will return back to you. That was at two in the morning. The foreign minister returned and contacted us and said that it seemed the paper would not be approved. Why? Because the Americans rejected it and because some of those who were at the meeting with the president said that since the Americans rejected it them it would be difficult for them to approve it.
Therefore, when the Qatari foreign minister met with me he was somewhat displeased with some of those who were present at the meeting with president Abu-Mazin. They were discourteous to the man even though he was a guest of our country and were about to start an altercation there had the presiden t not calmed them down. I asked the Qatari foreign minister: What now? He told me word for word: Your position is impeccable and you are not to blame; you have done your part. The problem is not with you. I will be leaving Gaza now for Qatar.
Yet, we are held responsible for the failure of the Qatari foreign minister's visit. He told me once again these same words when he was in Gaza and he repeated them when he contacted me from Washington. The Qatari foreign minister said: My brother, you in the government and Hamas you are not to blame. You have done your part and your position is impeccable. The problem is not with you.
In fact had our brothers wanted to exploit the flexibility that we demonstrated and the formulas that we presented, we would have formed a national unity government. It was clear that there was something, certain formulas, and the adopted position: Either these or never. That was the problem.
Now to the last dialogue on the national unity government. The president said in his speech: When the brothers, having formed a government alone, felt that they were at an impasse, and they said let us have a dialogue. The president noted that the idea of a dialogue was raised by the Legislative Council.
First of all, we did not want a national unity government and a dialogue on it because we were at an impasse but because of our conviction. This was our idea in the first place. Before I formed my government, we held dialogue on the national unity government. Therefore, it was not an impasse but a sincere desire to pull the Palestinian arena together. We wanted the people to carry the burden collectively, stand shoulder to shoulder and carry the burden because the cause is greater than everyone and the people need everyone, not because we entered into an impasse but because we had a sense of responsibility and we wanted this ship to reach the shores of safety.
They came and said: We want a national unity government provided this government responds to the possibility of lifting the sanctions. We asked: What is required of us? They said first of all the prime minister, Abu-al-Abd, was a symbol. Now what was the word they used? O yes, they said he was a dashing character [shakhsiyah faqi'ah]. They said that the Americans would not deal with such a symbolic and a dashing character. I said: Does this mean, brother Abu-Mazin, that if I quit, the Americans will cooperate with the government and respond and lift the sanctions? He said: Certainly this would be a big step. I told him: All right, I personally will give this concession.
The first concession that we offered to promote the chances of the national unity government was that despite the fact that constitutionally I should form any government because I am the head of the Hamas bloc in parliament, the head of the bloc that went to elections and which was the biggest bloc - constitutionally I should form the government - I conceded and my brothers conceded their constitutional rights and we offered this concession.
Another concession: They said the prominent figures and the leaders should not be in the government. This means Dr Mahmud al-Zahhar, Mr Sa'id Siyam, and others. We said: We are ready for this. We will remove them from the government in order to promotethe chances of the national unity government. Abu-Khalid, Abu-Mus'ab, Abu-Ala, and all those who are described as symbolic leaders or figures would go.
A third concession. We brought the name of someone, a minister who was not a dashing personality, not a symbol, and not a leader or anything like that, but was successful. He is even beardless [alluding to bearded Hamas figures] and we presented him. He is our brother Dr Basim Na'im. Two days later, they said it seems that Dr Basim Na'im would not be the proper choice. Indeed, we had information that the rejection of Dr Basim was planned internally. They told us that the Americans did not want him. We said: All right, since we are offering all these concessions in order to promote this national unity government, then we might as well concede our second candidate for the prime ministry. We presented a third candidate.
A fourth concession. Based on our position in parliament, our share in the government would be 14 out of 24 ministerial portfolios. We conceded five and accepted nine portfolios, giving five portfolios to independents in order to expand the ruling coalition.
After all these concessions - the prime minister's post, no symbols or leaders, we brought another name and it was rejected, and we accepted nine of 14 ministries - we were surprised that there were retreats from the principles and understandings that we agreed on. By way of explanation, we tell our people that we agreed on the following five principles: A national unity government based on the national reconciliation document. The government would be formed by consultations and after selections by the parliamentary blocs and factions from among persons with integrity and efficiency and each side would present its candidates. Hamas would nominate a candidate for the prime minister's post and he would be approved by the president of the Palestinian [National] Authority. The presidency would work to ensure lifting the sanctions the moment the government is formed, and finally, the issue of restructuring the PLO within a specific timeframe.
At the eleventh hour of the dialogue we were surprised to find that these had been ignored in a noticeable manner. Secondly, certain issues that we had not agreed on were forced on the issue of the national unity government, such as the following objection: We will not be able to proceed with a national unity government before solving the problem of the captive [Israeli] soldier.
I have no connection with the captive soldier. What has the government to do with the captive soldier? The soldier is with the resistance factions - Hamas and the resistance factions - and the brothers in Egypt are exerting their valuable efforts and offering their mediations and they are proceeding along this path. Why should we link this with that? Let us proceed along parallel lines. We will carry on with the work to form a government by collective understanding, and this would be excellent, and the Egyptian brothers and the brothers with the resistance factions and the Israelis will be proceeding on their path and we hope they realize this as soon as possible.
The third thing was introducing into the understandings about the national unity government the suggestion that we must have comprehensive calm, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, before we take the government to parliament.
So the understandings were disavowed? How? When we started speaking about some ministrie s, we found out that brother Abu-Mazin and the other brothers do not want Hamas to be present at the foreign, interior, finance, or information ministry. We made concessions on the prime minister, the symbols, and leaders and in spite of this, we were also not supposed to be present in the interior, foreign, or finance ministries. Is this logical? There is a parliament, elections, and a people's willpower. It has become very clear that the objective was to achieve what was not achieved with the policy of the embargo and what was not achieved [changes thought] I would like here to emphasize some points and I would like our Palestinian people to be patient too and bear with us. There is an undeclared decision to topple the government and the Americans are leading this policy. They want to achieve what they failed to do over the past months through a dialogue that we were supposed to accept. This means that they want us and not others to do what they failed to do. They want us to voluntarily step down and turn our back to our people. They do not want us to have anything to do with the prime ministry, or the foreign, interior, finance, and other ministries. I am not speaking about quota sharing but about parliamentary bases and constitutional norms. I also speak about the fact that our Palestinian people will hold us responsible for these files, specifically the file of security and finance. For your information, we also offered something else to Brother Abu-Mazin. We told him that from the four ministries, you can also keep the foreign and information ministries. They want us to give up the finance and security file. They want us to give up the finance ministry which deals with money. We have seen how it used to be spent over the years. Our Palestinian people know about this and I am not going to review this file now. But it suffices for me to say that the European Union report that was submitted to the meeting of the donor countries in Amman some time ago mentioned that the financial administration during this period was the best financial administration since the Palestinian [National] Authority was established. There is transparency, honesty, protection of public funds. All this was mentioned.
Brothers, we and our Palestinian people are suffering in light of the issue of the salaries and other things. We, as ministers, have taken one or two grants only while some of the brother employees have taken nine grants. The brothers whose salaries are 1,500 shekels and less might have received their salary in full. As prime minister, I received only one or two grants. I am willing to remain four years as a servant of the sons of the Palestinian people without any remuneration. We are not thinking about such things. We found out that they had gone back on the agreements after his excellency the president agreed to these principles and here is his signature.[Haniyah shows several papers]. Isma'il Haniyah and Dr Mustafa al-Barghuthi who was mediating also signed these documents. We have three signatures. This is the first time I show you this document. This is the first time anyone knows that there are signed minutes on the issue of the dialogue. We have shown you this document because we genuinely want to clarify certain facts that are related to this story. Therefore, I would like to emphasize some points. First, with respect to the issue of all the dialogue sessions, we have made concessions on positions and we have shown flexibility concerning the political programme. We demonstrated flexibility in the national accord document, then in the guidelines, and in the letter we exchanged with His Excellency the Qatari foreign minister. We demonstrated flexibility. Believe me, formulas were submitted and had we had accepted them we would have gone a long way and concluded an agreement a long time ago. But when the talk started to focus on the Quartet's conditions, everything stopped. I would like here to emphasize one point. Brother Abu-Mazin had the opportunity to form a national unity government. But he was determined - -we ask God to forgive him and us - - to appoint a certain person to the finance ministry. Brothers, this is why the recent dialogue for the formation of a national unity government failed. Our brother, the president announced after this that the dialogue reached a dead end. We offered concessions concerning the person of the prime minister, the symbols, and the number of ministries. We expressed political flexibility and ceded two of the four ministries that are called as sovereign ministries. Therefore, we are absolutely not the ones who should be held responsible for the failure of this dialogue. The dialogue was suspended because of disagreement on only one ministry and in this manner. Another point is that it was said that we had set conditions for the formation of a national unity government. What are these conditions? They said that the brothers [in Hamas] wanted their people appointed as ambassadors and governors and that the issue for them was not just an issue of having ministers in the government. They added that this being the case, we would need to hold a dialogue for one or two years to discuss this issue. This talk is completely unfounded. We told Brother Abu-Mazin that we wanted to consolidate the political partnership in every walk of life like the embassies and not only in the government. Why should I not have people in the embassies? Am I not an important and ruling party and in the country now? I did not assume power on the back of a tank, through a military coup or by landing on the ground with a parachute. I assumed power through the ballot boxes. Why should this movement and the other factions not be represented in the embassies, or have governors? I spoke about the consolidation of the partnership. Therefore, I presented a concept in the presence of Brother President Abu-Mazin and the follow-up committee and said that we want to raise a slogan at this stage called stability within the framework of partnership. We will establish political stability through the implementation of this or that point. We will establish administrative stability by implementing the following one, two, or three points. The same will apply to security, judicial, and social stability. I raised this slogan, the s logan of stability within the framework of enhancement of partnership. Therefore, we did not propose to have ambassadors or governors as a condition for the formation of the national unity government. We said that we must first agree on the principle and then form a national unity government. After the government starts working, we will begin to implement what was agreed upon. We did not set as condition having our people in the embassies and as governors before the formation of the government. We just wanted to agree on the principle of partnership for this homeland is for all of us. This is the country of all us. All sides have made sacrifices and we do not ask our people for privileges. Since this is the country of all, then let all participate in building it. Since all sides made sacrifices, then let all shoulder the responsibility for building the homeland. This is the point that I hope has now become clear. The second point is that they said that any person who comes from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine [DFLP] or from Hamas for example and is appointed as minister should not have anything to do with the DFLP or Hamas for as a minister he must not identify himself with this or that faction and that Hamas and the DFLP can say what they want but the ministers should act as ministers. I wonder here: How can the minister and the government not have anything to do with politics? If the Palestinian child dabbles in politics, how can his government not have anything to do with politics? When someone asks a minister about something, should he tell them go ask this or that faction for I am not involved. This is a government. Therefore, we have noted something important, even in the understanding we reached with Brother Abu-Mazin. We did so in another joint minutes dated 8 November 2006. This is different from the first joint minut es. I noted at the end of the minutes that the government will enjoy all the powers that are stipulated in the basic law and that the government will exercise its political and administrative work as any other government. Brother Abu-Mazin had put his signature to this. Four of us have signed theses joint minutes, I, as well as the president, Dr Ziyad and Dr Mustafa signed them. This is not the way to do things. This is the government of the Palestinian people. This is a political not a municipal or technical issue. Therefore, the government and the ministers will certainly abide by the national accord programme on whose basis we formed the government. It was then said that the Palestinians do not want two heads in the country and do not want to establish two authorities in the country. I pose the following question here: When he held the [previous] elections, did Brother Abu-Mazin imagine or believe that the results of these elections will bring in the same party to the government that is already in the presidency, meaning that Fatah will assume power both in the government and the presidency? The elections were fair and produced these results. Another movement, the Hamas Movement, was brought to power. It had a programme and a concept and it was elected on this basis. It respects its programme and the Palestinian people who elected it. There is a contract between me and the voter. This is a trust. When the voter supported me, he told me: I entrust you to manage this programme in my place. How can I turn my back once I form a government after I am elected and betray the trust? This cannot be done. Therefore, there are programmes. In spite of this, we said that the relationship between us and Brother Abu-Mazin is a relationship that should first be governed by the constitution and the basic law. This is the first point. Second, it is a relationship of complementarity and cooperation that is governed by the Palestinian people's higher interests.
Brothers and sons of our people, you must believe me when I say that I indulged Brother Abu-Mazin a lot. Once he told me that the foreign, interior, and finance ministries are sovereign ministries and should be close to him. I told him: Brother Abu-Mazin, the line of communication is open between you and these ministers. You can meet with the foreign, finance, and interior ministers whenever you want for I have no problem with this. They now speak about two authorities. Before the elections, they used to say that there are two authorities and they continued to say so after the elections. What should we do and where should we go? Should we live on the moon? This is our country and they agreed to hold elections and there were the results of the ballot boxes. The world applauded these elections and praised them. The people had their say. Let us respect the people's decision.
There are also several other points. They said that no one should form axes and alliances. I wonder where these alliances are and who is meant by such talk? I would like to clarify our stand as government and movement too. First of all, our Arab and Muslim nation is our strategic depth and we do not give it up. We do not turn our backs to this nation. Second: We did not support one axis against another axis. But I will certainly work and cooperate with those who open their arms to me, open their door and welcome me and respect me, my people and the results of the elections. At the same time, we never interfered in the affairs of any Arab country and we are also not on the payroll of any party. Our decisions are made here and are based on our evaluation of our higher interests and the status of our Palestinian people.
The last point has to do with the political bomb that Brother Abu-Mazin hurled in stagnant waters, meaning the issue of early presidential and legislative elections. Actually, we want to clarify the following point: We consider this call as not being a constitutional call. We will brief the Palestinian people later about the constitutionality of this call. This call is absolutely unc onstitutional. The second point is that they now rush to hold new elections while the Palestinian people have just emerged from the previous elections. Since the people are the source of all power, as many say, have the Palestinian people not been the source of power over 10 years? No elections were held for the Legislative Council for 10 years. Agreements were concluded and signed. Negotiations were held and people came and left. Where were the Palestinian people? Were they not the source of power? Brother president Abu-Mazin: Why have you patiently waited for your government for 10 years and do not want to wait for this government to complete its constitutional term? If they respect the source of power, why did they attack the representatives of the people? We still remember the document issued by 20 members, the document presented by members from the Legislative Council who called for reform only. They were attacked, beaten, and shot at while in their houses. Dr Mu'awiyah al-Masri still stands a witness to this. Or do we say that the people are the source of power whenever we want and forget about the people when we want? This is completely impermissible. I say that this call is not constitutional and will take us ten years back. From this premise, we affirm that we do not accept and reject this call and we emphasize the need to respect the Palestinian people's options. The government has been under attack to fail it from the very first day. By God, there has been no government on this earth that has experienced what we and our people have experienced. The Palestinian people are being punished in a collective manner for their options. Some spoke about smuggling - May God forgive you Brother Abu-Majid [not further identified]. Smuggling applies to those who take something outside the country. But when a respected minister crosses the border and the country through which he passes knows all about what he is carrying with him and when all that he has with him is registered and noted, this means that this minister brings in something to feed the sons of his people, alleviate the suffering and the tribulation. As prime minister, I was forced to stay four or five hours seated on the road. It goes without saying that this has pained our people. But I accept to do this for the sake of this great people. I had with me a sum that does not exceed $32 to 35 million. I brought this sum for our people before the blessed Id al-Adha to somewhat help the employees. We wanted to ease the tension because we know that part of this tension is caused by the embargo. We wanted to see our children smile, alleviate our wounds. But they did not allow this sum of money to enter the territories. We bring in money to feed the sons of the Palestinian people. All the documents showing the sums that all the brother ministers have brought in can be found in the archives of the finance ministry and every citizen can check these archives and see for himself about all the sums that have been brought in since we assumed power.
We will noe discuss the last station, the station of the recent developments. The issue of the crossing and what took place in it. We regret to say that defenceless masses went out to welcome the prime minister. They carried nothing with them. They were shot at, beaten with bludgeons and sticks. When the people heard the news that the prime minister was deported, they took to the streets to express their rejection of the Israeli decision because it was said that the Israeli interior minister had decided to deport the prime minister. I do not want to discuss the crossing issue. I do not want to speak about myself. But I would like to say that our Palestinian people are a pure and honest people and are not thieves. They did not steal the rooms where people place their belongings for safe-keeping. We are proud of belonging to this people, this blessed and great people. This people who act like this and offer their blood in sacrifice are not a people who steal and are not thieves. I do not want to speak about the issue of t he crossing, the exchange of fire, and what took place there. Some brothers described what took place as a theatrical show. Is it a theatrical show for me to kill my own son by opening fire directly on him? Is it a theatrical show for me to kill my personal guard who was close to me? Is it also part of the theatrical show when I sever the finger of my political adviser Dr Ahmad Yusuf? Is it also part of this theatrical show to injure the escort members of the secretary general [not further identified]? Well, some brother officials yesterday called me from abroad asking me how can a prime minister [walk on foot?] I told them that we are the prime minister of the Palestinian people who are in the alleys, streets, and in the refugee camps and we are part of this people and we stand to the side of our people. If our people sit on the ground, we sit with them. If they stand in line at the crossing, we will do the same thing. There is no problem. If others wish to leave in any other way, this is their own affair.
Let us discuss the recent painful, regrettable, and difficult incidents. I would like to emphasize one important point that of making decisions that are based on national accord. Brother Abu-Mazin - God forgive him - called for early elections in this way in the wake of painful incidents at the crossing and after a failed assassination attempt. Israeli officials expressed regret that the assassination attempt failed and this raises a question mark. An official spokesman for the US State Department also said that it was Brother Abu-Mazin who decided not to allow the funds to be brought in. This also raises a question mark. When there is pain, killings, and wounded and we make a speech the second or third day telling people that elections will be held, why this repression of the people's freedom? Let us cater for the people's feelings. Let us take into consideration the people's circumstances. Why shoot at 41 worshippers who came out after Friday prayers to celebrate the anniversary of their movement? The window panes of the Al-Birah mosque, the Jamal Abd-al-Nasir mosque, have been shattered. Roadblocks were erected early in the morning on all the Ramallah roads to prevent this march. Do our Palestinian people in the West Bank need more road blocks? They have more than 175 Israeli road blocks. Of course they do not need more. Therefore, this is the result of seeking to take anything without national consensus. This is the result when the people are repressed and oppressed in this way. This is a painful result and no one is happy with it. I am not happy when I see my son, the son of the Hamas Movement fall as a martyr or is wounded or my son, the son of the Fatah Movement fall victim or is wounded. The same applies to my sons in the security agencies if they fall martyr or are wounded on Palestinian territory. This does not make me happy. No person who has a conscience will be happy too. Therefore, I valued and continue to value the arduous efforts that are being exerted to contain this crisis.
I value the efforts by our brothers in the Palestinian factions, our brothers in the Islamic Jihad, and in the two fronts [DFLP and PFLP] and the efforts by the Follow-up Committee and the understandings and agreement that were reached. I appreciate these efforts. I also value the Arab efforts, the efforts that the fraternal Egyptian security delegation that is present here is exerting. I also value the Arab and Muslim mediations, the contacts by His Highness Prince Hamad Bin-Khalifah Al Thani, the amir of Qatar he held with me, with President Abu-Mazin. I also valued the phone calls by the brothers in Damascus, as well as the secretary general of the Organization of Islamic countries, who, I believe, has arrived here in Gaza. I hope to meet him after this event. There are also the contacts by the Arab League secretary-general. I received a call today from the Turkish foreign minister. There is also the call by His Majesty King Abdallah of Jordan. I welcome all these mediations. I welcome all these efforts and I do not want to call them mediations because we are part of the Arab nation. Our wounds are yours and our pain is yours too. I know that the current moves stem from a sense of compassion for what is taking place in the occupied territories.
This is why I would like to affirm the following at the end of my address to our Palestinian people: First: The need to safeguard national unity in and outside the territories. We are one people and the six million Palestinians in the diaspora are an indivisible part of this great people. I cannot give up their right to repatriation for this is a sacred right. I cannot give up their right to speak and express their opinion. They have not trodden the soil of the homeland because there is an occupation that bans them from returning to their homeland. But our people abroad have also suffered from the massacres and all the harsh circumstances over decades. These are a people who have a right to speak and express their opinion. We do not support the idea of cancelling the refugees and the Palestinians in the diaspora. This is why we in and outside the territories are one people that stand as a barrier to protect our cause. From this premise, I emphasize the need for national unity. Young men from Hamas and Fatah in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, this is not your battle. This is not the place for your bullets. This pure blood is dear to us. Preserve your unity and cohesion.
Second: I would like to affirm that dialogue is of utmost priority. We must not resort to weapons and I call on everybody to exercise self-restraint and I appeal to all to remain calm, ease tension and end the armed manifestations that exacerbate tension. The language of dialogue must prevail among us. We are not enemies. We have political disagreements and we have political bickering but we must not drown in the Israeli-American scheme. Our strategy, brothers, should remain as it is; the major contradiction is with the occupation.
Fourth [as heard]: I would like to emphasize the need to respect the results of the elections and deal with them. This is a focal point. We must respect the results of the elections and deal with them practically, on the ground, and effectively.
Fifth: National accord is the basis that solves any problem within any framework.
Sixth: We continue to support the formation of a national unity government on the basis of the national accord document, a government that is home-grown and that has a national concept and should be formed on national bases. If this government will not be able to lift the embargo, then let it a government to confront the embargo. Let us confront the embargo united. From this premise, I value the stand of the 10 Palestinian factions that met in Damascus in the presence of Mr Faruq Qaddumi. These factions reiterated their rejection of the early elections and their commitment to the national unity government on the basis of the national unity document. We support this national consensus and we will not depart from this consensus.
Seventh: I call as of now for the return of all those who have been kidnapped and who are being held by the brothers in Hamas or Fatah. Return your brothers and do not keep any kidnapped person with you. These are our young men and our kinfolk and we are one family. I hope that all the kidnapped from this or that side will be immediately returned.
Ninth [as heard]: I call on the interior minister to hold a meeting immediately with the security agencies tonight to adopt a common step to contain tension, appease the situation, and withdraw armed manifestations and keep in the arena only the people who are responsible for domestic security. I invite the interior minister to hold a meeting with the security agencies and the heads of the security agencies. Sit together, discuss the situation, and take the necessary arrangements, calm the situation, end the causes of tension, and follow up on all the incidents. Form investigation and judicial committees as the government decided in its recent meeting. The issue of the three children, may God have them rest in peace, is the first issue that you must tackle. Before discussing my case at the crossing, you must start with the issue of the three children. We do not want to carry out one-upmanship over this issue because they are our children and you must arrest anyone who is responsible for killing these children. I phoned Brother Baha Ba'lushah from Khartoum and offered him my condolences. I told him and this is what I did not mention in the media that your children are our children and your blood is our blood and we are responsible for following up and exposing this crime. We also have no objection to forming a joint operations room for all the agencies. I wish that the interior minister will do this immediately.
In conclusion, I call on all our Palestinian people to achieve a comprehensive national reconciliation to protect civil peace and amity. I invite you for a comprehensive national reconciliation in the cities, the camps, the villages and I am ready in the name of the Palestinian government to pay any blood money for the families of all the martyrs to achieve comprehensive national reconciliation. I am ready and I address my appeal to all the good people and notables in our country from here to move on all levels, on the level of shari'a [Islamic law] or customary law. We are ready as a government to support this national reconciliation and are ready to pay all the blood money needed, regardless of their amounts to stop the shedding of the blood of our people and nation and to keep this cause, God willing, a just and clear cause and the cause of the entire nation.
Brothers, I sensed from my tour that the entire nation supports the Palestinian people and it is not an illusion that the embargo will be broken. This is not just an illusion. The embargo will be broken and will be dismantled. This is not an illusion. The moves that are taking place in the region and within the nation show that our nation fares well and our people and kinfolk are doing well. I ask almighty God to avert our people all covert and overt seditions. Our hearts beat for Jerusalem and the kinfolk of Jerusalem. Our hearts beat for the West Bank and for our people in the territories that were occupied in 1948, for our people in the Diaspora and our people here in Gaza, the city of steadfastness, heroism, and greatness, the Gaza of the chivalrous people. Let us remain along this course.
May God guide your steps and we ask God to preserve our people, unity, and cause and may God's peace and blessings be upon you.
Source: Palestinian Satellite Channel TV, Gaza, in Arabic 1600 gmt 19 Dec 06
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