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Palestinians’ Role in the Peace Process

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish: I Shall Not Hate Pt.2

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PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Toronto. Now joining us again is Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, author of the book I Shall Not Hate. Thanks for joining us again.

DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH, OB/GYN, AUTHOR: Thank you.

JAY: So in the first segment of the interview, we talked about your personal story. Now let’s talk about the bigger picture politically and how you look at the situation there. The peace talks are dragging on nowhere again. It seems to be a perpetual peace talk machine that sort of raises people’s hopes and doesn’t go anywhere. Why do you think these talks don’t go anywhere?

ABUELAISH: These talks–because the talks are not for talk. The negotiations are a mean to an end. And we want to achieve an end, to implement it. It’s a process. It’s not a goal. And I think we need to be honest and to point, by the finger, who is using it as a goal.

JAY: Okay. So point your finger.

ABUELAISH: [inaudible] the current Israeli government.

JAY: So be specific. When you say the talks are the objective, what do you mean? So you mean the process of looking like they’re talking is the objective, not actually achieving [inaudible]

ABUELAISH: Yes, yes, it’s not achieving anything. And if you want the patient, if I want to treat him, I don’t want to bribe him. I am sad to say that the States to bribe Israel to freeze the settlements, I think this is against the interest of the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Americans, and the world.

JAY: Just in case, for people who haven’t followed this, you’re talking about the American offering a lot of military equipment.

ABUELAISH: Three billion dollars.

JAY: Do you think there’s some forces on the Palestinian side as well who don’t mind a perpetual peace process?

ABUELAISH: I can say to you, since the Oslo agreement–and who was behind it who believes in peace? President Abbas. I think he believes in peace. And he is the one who convinced even Yasser Arafat to go for that. Until now he still believes in it. Dr. Fayyad, he believes in it. But they need to show the Palestinian people something [inaudible] reality actions.

JAY: Because Abbas now is very isolated, I think, even amongst the Palestinians. They see him as cooperating too much with this phony peace process.

ABUELAISH: Yes. But who made him weak? The failure in the peace process. The Palestinian people are disappointed, frustrated, because they realized what kind of negotiation–it’s useless, it’s a waste of time, and instead of blaming Abbas, to blame ourselves, what made him weak and the Palestinians to feel disappointed from him, and not to believe even in the peace process.

JAY: But some people suggest it’s a very deliberate policy by the Israelis to weaken Abbas.

ABUELAISH: The Israelis, the Americans, the international community–at the end, any progress in this peace process will help both, will help Abbas, will help the Palestinians and those people who are disappointed. And once they are disappointed, what do we expect from them? To go for the extremists, and then to blame them, you are extreme. But what do we need? To prevent; not later on to treat, to blame them, what pushed them to be extremist.

JAY: When I was in a travel agency in Ramallah, we spoke to a young woman there who sold us our ticket, and we started talking about this. And she said, I hope we’re not so naive to fall into this trap again, meaning that she thought that the Israelis actually want an extreme reaction.

ABUELAISH: And that’s what I think and I hope the Palestinian people, and I think Abbas, President Abbas, Dr. Salem Fayyad, are fighting, no way to be trapped in violence.

JAY: But then you talk to the more militant side or you talk to Hamas and they say, well, the peace process goes nowhere. The only thing that they respect is if we fight back with arms. Otherwise, there’s no respect.

ABUELAISH: And that’s the mistake. Are we dealing with the Palestinian nation, or with parties or movements? There is a Palestinian nation, and the peace agreement was between PLO and the government of Israel. So we need to look for the collective, the Palestinian nation, the Palestinian people, with their leadership. Well, Hamas is part of the Palestinian nation. I don’t want to deal with Israel, as you said, with Lieberman as Yisrael Beiteinu or Likud. We are dealing with an Israeli government and an Israeli nation and a Palestinian nation. We don’t want to minimize, to deal with parties or parts in a fragmented way. We need to be focused, to move forward.

JAY: But Israel won’t recognize Hamas at all, even though the Palestinians voted for Hamas.

ABUELAISH: But look also for the settlers. They didn’t recognize the Palestinian state or the Palestinian people. Look Lieberman. What did you say? He wants to expel the Palestinians. I don’t speak with him. I speak with an Israeli government, what they are saying, leaders or parties or movements here or there. There is a title, there is an address which is the Israeli government. And it’s time for the Israeli government to be wise, to be rational, to have the moral courage to say, we can make peace with the Palestinian people, and that what is accepted for them to be accepted for the Palestinians.

JAY: When I was both in Israel and in Palestine, in the West Bank and in the camps, many, many people told me they’ve given up on this two-state solution. They just don’t think it’s going to go anywhere, and if by chance it ever did, the Palestinian state would be so weak it wouldn’t be a real state. But what I heard is talk about a new kind of civil disobedience movement, but even more than that a demand–if you’re going to have one state and it’s the Israeli state, a demand that, okay, then let the Palestinians vote, let the Palestinians in Gaza, West Bank–in other words, demand one person, one vote. Do you think there’s anything happening in terms of this?

ABUELAISH: If I want to ask the Israeli government what do you want, one state, two state, no state, tell us so we can work towards that. But till now nothing–we are using theoretical questions. How can we discuss two-state or one-state and we can’t freeze the settlements for three months? Give the ground to prepare the ground to be receptive for two-state solution and to start with issues on the ground.

JAY: You live now in Toronto. You’re on a contract as a doctor here, I think for a five-year contract, which puts you in contact with North Americans. Your book’s going to be released in–it has been released in Canada. It will be released in the United States in January. You’re going to do a tour there. So in other words, you meet a lot of North American Jews. What do you say to them? What do you–you know, specifically to the Jewish community in North America. Is there something–a specific role–. Like, what would you like them to be saying to Israel and to their own governments?

ABUELAISH: And that’s what I’m saying: support Israel for the good deeds. I’m not against supporting Israel for the good deeds, the human deeds, but to prevent them from any harmful deeds, for themselves and others. The long future of Israel is linked to the long future of the Palestinians. You can’t deny or get the rights and denying the Palestinians rights [sic]. And our road map is not the territory but the humanity. We need to share, not to dominate. That’s the guarantee for a long-term peace between Palestinians and Israelis. And I found it receptive, because from my experience I learned our enemy is our ignorance, arrogance, and greed. We don’t know each other.

JAY: Thanks very much for joining us.

ABUELAISH: Thank you.

JAY: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network. And again, the book is called I Shall Not Hate.

End of Transcript

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