One of Yitzhak Rabin’s primary demands in order to launch open talks with the Palestinian leadership in 1994 was that the PLO change its platform by modifying its Charter and removing the passages that deny a Jewish connection to the Land of Israel as well as the sections that call for Israel’s and Zionists’ destruction.

Eventually, after a lot of pushing, the Palestinians went into a closed door parliamentary session and claimed they had modified the Charter appropriately. Of course, nobody could prove or disprove their claims. In subsequent talks, the Palestinians wrote open letters claiming that the charter had been modified, but real evidence such as the minutes of that closed door sesssion have never been made public.

Of course, there are many skeptics who didn’t believe the Palestinians changed anything and were simply playing the game the way it needed to be played. So, for example, when the PNC took formal votes in 1996 and 1998 (in front of Clinton) that supposedly changed the Charter, it seemed too good to be true and many people remained on the sidelines.

These skeptics and many of us who wanted to believe the change had taken place were given additional reason to doubt when Arafat rejected Barak’s offer of a Palestinian state in 2000, then launched a war against Israel and eventually refused to change Palestinian positions that would destroy Israel when the Israeli government revisited their Camp David offer at Taba in 2001. Israel had offered much more to gain a permanent peace at Taba but the Palestinians did not budge on the core demands that would change Israel into Palestine. If somebody wants peace and resolution, they negotiate and the Palestinians did not intend to negotiate away the very details that would fall into accord with their supposed change in the Charter.

Then in 2001,

…the Palestinian leadership made it clear that its hostile intentions against Israel remained unchanged. Although the Palestinian National Council (PNC) has twice taken formal decisions to revise the Palestinian National Covenant (1996 and 1998) calling for Israel’s destruction, the PNC Chairman, Salim Za’anoun, stated on 3 February 2001, in the official Palestinian Authority newspaper, that the Palestinian Covenant remained unchanged and was still in force.

Okay, that was then, in 2001, when the war the Palestinians had launched had become bloody and painful to both sides. But now, once again, Israel is negotiating with the Palestinians under American auspices. Too bad, then, that we now we have the PA ambassador to Lebanon in what appears to be an open and semi-informal question and answer period with students, explicitly stating that the Palestinians are continuing to seek Israel’s destruction through its “Phases” plan which calls for the Palestinians to continue to gain in increments what they cannot gain in war until finally they have the advantage they need to take over Israel. Not news to anybody, but important to have documentation.

This is from MEMRI:

Following are excerpts from an interview with Abbas Zaki, Palestinian Authority representative in Lebanon, which aired on NBN TV on April 9, 2008:

Abbas Zaki: We believe wholeheartedly that the Right of Return is guaranteed by our will, by our weapons, and by our faith.

Interviewer: Do you still believe in weapons, not just in negotiations?

Abbas Zaki: The use of weapons alone will not bring results, and the use of politics without weapons will not bring results. We act on the basis of our extensive experience. We analyze our situation carefully. We know what climate leads to victory and what climate leads to suicide. We talk politics, but our principles are clear. It was our pioneering leader, Yasser Arafat, who persevered with this revolution, when empires collapsed. Our armed struggle has been going on for 43 years, and the political struggle, on all levels, has been going on for 50 years. We harvest U.N. resolutions, and we shame the world so that it doesn’t gang up on us, because the world is led by people who have given their brains a vacation – the American administration and the neocons.

Young Palestinian: As I recall, the invasion of 1982 and the destruction of South Lebanon was not just in response to missile attacks, but in response to operations as well. Israel does not use only the missiles as a pretext. It uses any activity of the resistance as a pretext.

Abbas Zaki: The important thing is that in any operation, Israel will pay a price. We don’t want cases in which you don’t kill even a chicken, but Israel kills 20 of you. I salute any operation that makes Israel pay a heavy price.


The P.L.O. is the sole legitimate representative [of the Palestinian people], and it has not changed its platform even one iota. In light of the weakness of the Arab nation and the lack of values, and in light of the American control over the world, the P.L.O. proceeds through phases, without changing its strategy. Let me tell you, when the ideology of Israel collapses, and we take, at least, Jerusalem, the Israeli ideology will collapse in its entirety, and we will begin to progress with our own ideology, Allah willing, and drive them out of all of Palestine.

The clip itself can be viewed here.

Ambassador Zaki looks handsome in his suit.

About the author



  • You need documentation? Farouk Khaddoumi has been saying the same thing ever since the Oslo Piece Process started.

    This is old, old news. But I guess it doesn’t hurt to keep pointing it out.

    But somebody really needs to tell Condasleeza.

  • Are you British, because I was so thrown by “sceptic” with a “c” that I couldn’t read the article. Then again, I’m obnoxious.

  • I’m not British. I wrote that late at night and I always write my posts in the little composition box the blogging software gives you and I never use a spell-checker. As a result, I brought you into the world of sewage instead of skepticism.

    And it’s not obnoxious to point that out. Sometimes something sticks in our throat so badly that we need to, you know, cough it out.

  • What’s the proper response to such comments? Ending negotiations with the PLO/PA? And how much does the Palestinian Charter matter?

    (Compare and contrast the following. South Korea elects a conservative as president, who criticizes North Korea’s human rights record. The North signals it may withdraw from its agreement to forego its nuclear program, test-fires missiles, and threatens to turn the South in “ashes”. Should the South and the United States continue talking with the North?)

  • The proper response to such comments is a Hellfire enema, courtesy of the IDF.

    Negotiations with the PLO/PA should never have been started to begin with.

    How much does the Palestinian Charter matter? What? How much did Mein Kampf matter? I expected more from you, Tom.

    If the US and South Korea know that they have the upper hand and are relentlessy pursuing a well thought out strategy the goal of which is the eventual dissolution of the regime in North Korea, then “negotiations” might be a good idea, so long as any “concession” by the US or South Korea is designed to weaken North Korea. Otherwise, no.

    The same thing with Israel. So long as the only thing driving US/Israeli “dialogue” with the PLO/PA is a vague and desperate hope for “peace” because Israel is tired of fighting, then the PLO/PA will have the upper hand and will be able to manipulate Israel while remaining true to their strategic vision, which is the destruction of Israel. I have great admiration for the steadfastness they have shown in sticking to their guns, both literally and figuratively. Israel chould learn a thing or two from them about how to define the parameters of the conflict. Oslo was undertaken because Peres was stupid enough to think that somehow something had changed and that peace was possible.It was noble, but hopelessly naive, a figment of his imagination.

    The PLO charter spells out the true aims of the PLO, which it has never abandoned. Israel ignores it at its peril. Now that the “Palestinian national movement” has effectively become a tool of iranian policy, this is more relevant than ever.

  • There’s talking with your enemies, Carter-style. This means indulging the liberal/romantic conceit that, scratch a Hamas terrorist and you’ll find a Jeffersonian democrat that loves children and sunsets on the beach.

    Then, there’s talking with folks you acknowledge are out to get you. I mean, this just in: the PA (not just Hamas) is full of double-talking, money-laundering, Jew-hating cads. I think guys like this do everyone a favor (including lefty, Guardian/Tikkun mag. types) by being candid about their intentions, with or without an agreement. If memory serves, Middle posted a similar piece about Abbas himself not long ago. I’d rather this than a reprise of Brezhnev’s sloppy kiss of Jerry Ford (or was it Carter?).

    To me, the policy relevance here is whether the PLO can be relied on to respect a grand bargain in which it foregoes, among other things, the ‘right of return.’ Their agitprop notwithstanding, the Soviets, we recall, scrupulously observed international agreements.

  • And, for what it’s worth, on Korea: again, the test is whether we can do a deal in our interests that’s verifiable and enforceable. As to the latter, the Bush admin. did the right thing in bringing in the Chinese, who can help hold Kim’s feet to the fire. I’d ignore what Kim says and focus on what he does. My view of the Palis is similar.

  • I think it matters in that we have to know what the other side is saying and thinking. It could be they’re just not “ready” to make a deal. What this ambassador is saying fits in well with the actions we’ve seen over the past years, so when he indicates that the political/diplomatic side of thier activities are smokescreens to cover for their true objectives AND ACTIONS, there is reason for concern.

    I think ignoring what these guys are saying stems from not taking them seriously. I don’t mean you, Tom, but I think there’s an element of condescension towards the Arabs in the West. This is especially true among the useful idiots on the far Left. They speak as if they can help the Arabs where the Arabs can’t help themselves.

    And yet, the Palestinians have done okay for themselves. They get the UN, EU and US to fund their existence for 60 years, with no end in sight. They get the world to believe that they’re the peace-seekers, not the Israelis. They have turned the equation of victim and attacker backwards in terms of historical definition of the Arab-Israeli conflict. They own the UN, as the ambassador points out genially. Most important, they are making headway inside Israeli society regarding what the territorial and even nationalistic red lines are. Twenty years ago, an Israeli PM wouildn’t dare to mention dividing Jerusalem but today it’s discussed openly as if there is no alternative. As the ambassador points out, if the Palestinians can cross that red line successfully, it will so seriously weaken the backbone of what constitutes Israel and its core beliefs, that taking over the rest of it might not be as challenging as these early steps.

    It’s important to hear and read to what these guys are saying and it’s even more important to listen and understand that they’re not playing. They’re dead serious.

  • I certainly wouldn’t discount what this character and others are saying; there’s no reason to conclude he’s insincere, even if it can’t be entirely dismissed that he’s mouthing propaganda for a domestic audience.

    Have you read Jeffrey Goldberg’s cover story in the Atlantic magazine? Apart from his extraordinarily combative interview with Olmert, it poignantly depicts the sense across much of the Israeli political spectrum that the status quo is unsustainable. Olmert’s remarks last year that Israel was ‘tired of winning’ put it quite directly.

    You and Ephraim note the Palis’ propaganda successes (which really are dazzling, Orwellian, actually). But where Ephraim is mistaken, or at a minimum out of step with the Israeli political establishment, is that no negotiations isn’t an option. No negotiations means the status quo, which is unsustainable… why? Because at the end of the day, the Palestinians have something to give; they have leverage. (Mutatis mutandis, Kim Jong-il.) They can’t destroy Israel, but, with seeming impunity, they can deprive it of a normal life. This insight may be the Palis’ greatest strategic achievement to date.

  • Yeah, I thought Goldberg did a very good job. I was going to post about it but the Atlantic’s website didn’t have the article up yet.

    I suspect that if I had access to interview Olmert, it would also turn out combative. The man sits under a cloud and he thinks it’s unjustified.

  • He learned from the best: Sharon.

    Sharon made Netanyahu, who is a fairly astute guy, look like a young puppy searching for his tail and then month in and month out showed incredible political survival skills. Olmert hasn’t shown the same strategic depth and also doesn’t seem to have a grander plan beyond survival, but he is an incredibly capable survivor and continues to outsmart everybody around him .

  • I’m not saying that Israel shouldn’t negotiate with the Pals, Tom. I’m just saying that they should use bullets, not words.

    They should do what Egypt does when the Pals threaten to blow up the border again and invade Sinai: they put troops on the border and said that if the Pals blew down the border wall like they did a little while ago, they would shoot the Pals down “like rats” if they set foot on Egyptian territory.

    Guess what happened? The Pals didn’t do it. Why? Because unlike Israel, when Arabs say to other Arabs that they will shoot them down like rats, they know they mean busisness.

    OK, so the status quo is unsustainable. Fine. What would you have Israel do to change this? Negotiate concessions to an enemy that is committed to Israel’sdestruction? How would this help?Would it not just make the Pals stronger and Israel weaker?

    Olmert is poison. He may be tired of fighting and winning, but somehow I think that most Israelis would find the alternative just a little less pleasant. He needs to go and be replaced with someone who is not such a defeatist.

    Negotiations assume that a peaceful solution is possible through talking. The only thing that the Pals can offer Israel is a cessation of violence. Until that happens first, talking is worse than useless, since the Pals see they can get something without putting down their weapons. How can that accomplish anything?

    In any case, Iran is driving everything now. There is no longer any independent Palestinian position, if indeed there ever was one to begin with (which I doubt). At some point Israel will be forced to battle Hamas in earnest whether they like it or not.

  • As to what Israel should do– some mix of talking and force, which has been its m.o. for some time now. It’s speaking to Abbas while conducting incursions into Gaza. Middle approves of the incremental approach with Hamas, but I can’t see any alternative to crushing it in Gaza, even reoccupying the strip if that’s what it takes. Hamas’s rockets are getting more sophisticated; it’s compelling a confrontation. Israel can’t let Sderot be the graveyard of its prestige.

    For all of Abbas’s flaws, it’s to Israel’s advantage to continue talking with him. Middle’s right, the PA has the UN and much of world opinion on its side. It’s also true, though, that the UN, EU, world opinion etc. constrain the Abbas regime, moderate it to a large extent. A fairly quiescent West Bank is greatly to be preferred to Hamas-style radicalism. So, even if the ‘peace process’ yields nothing of real substance, it helps control Palestinian behavior.

    Conversely, Olmert gives up nothing in periodically meeting with Abbas. (Surely the risk-averse Olmert isn’t carving up Jerusalem behind the public’s back.)

    I can’t see how talks necessitate a zero-sum outcome, in which benefits to the Palis = harm to Israel. Put the Palis in charge of collecting trash in Jenin and Ramallah. As far as I know, even the Israeli hard right doesn’t advocate reoccupying the whole of the West Bank. Don’t virtually all Israelis support some form/extent of withdrawal? So put Abbas in charge of land Israel doesn’t want.

    What’s the case for ignoring the Palis altogether? What benefit flows from that?

  • No, there are about 5% of Israelis (that figure is my opinion, it could be higher) who believe all of Judea and Samaria should be in Jewish hands no matter what. I think, though, that even they are coming around thanks to the scare word of the decade: demographics. That word is also what is making the Palestinians swagger a little. Of course, they’ve made mistakes of historic proportions before, so they should wonder whether the swagger is warranted.

  • Going through the motions of talking with Abbas is fine, so long as the only concessions have to do with how big the garbage squad is. Talking based on the belief that actually making real concessions will moderate Pal behavior is what Israel has to stop doing. It has been proven beyond all doubt that Israeli concessions increase Pal terrorism, not lessen it.

    I didn’t say ignore the Pals, Tom. Israel should respond forcefully when Hamas attacks Israel and continue to talk to Abbas about how many new garbage trucks he needs.

    But, ultimately it doesn’t matter. You point out correctly that Hamas is doing all it can to provoke a major confrontation. Iran is behind this. They are driving things now, as I said, and peace is the furthest thing from their minds. Any Israeli plan has to take this into account.

  • Middle, what’s the point of your post? In a month or so, you’re going to be supporting an Olmert proposed withdrawal from Samaria which is preceeded by destroying outposts and Jewish villages.

    BenDavid, Ephraim, and me have been saying this all along. I’ve been saying this explicitly here since I discoverd the comunity. I don’t expect any kudos from you, but admitting that the ‘disengagement’ was a big mistake would be a good starter.

    And yes, the Arabs are simply not ready. The problem is that the Israelis and their week leaders think if they do unilateral things, they can live happily ever after. Someone has to wake them up and remind them that geo-politics is not the same as fighting with an ex or the cousins you can’t stand.

  • Josh, there were daily rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza before the disengagement. There was an ongoing presence at great expense and manpower cost of IDF resources. There was international approbation of any step Israel took and there was no question as to whether this was occupation or not in the international community.

    Now we have the rockets and the occasional attacks, many of which have been on military targets. I prefer attacks on the IDF than on civilians, don’t you? In the meantime, the IDF kills a handful of their bad guys every day and doesn’t have to deal with control over another million or more Palestinians. No checkpoints, no house searches in the middle of the night, many fewer engagements with the enemy, and no situations where because of 7000 non-Palestinian inhabitants, you end up using your force as an army to quell resistance by so many others. Gaza is better off as far from Israeli possession as possible. It’s not just me thinking this, but it has now been two consecutive Israeli governments including one, currently that is led by both the center right and center left parties. Do you think you know something these guys don’t? You think they haven’t assessed whether they should go back in there?

    Finally, with respect to leaving Samaria, I don’t know what I think. I think Israel should be out of there, but having Hamas take over that territory would create a difficult situation for Israel AND Jordan. Do I think the settlers should be out of there? Unless they are willing to live under Palestinian rule, the answer is yes. West of the fence or even back to the Taba offer lines is where I want to see Israeli habitation under Israeli rule end. Not because it shouldn’t be in Israel’s hands but because it has cost Israel much more to have it and it costs much more to hang on to it than is good for the country as a whole.

  • Ben David, Ephraim, Josh, Froylein and Tovitim, happy pesach to all of you.

    Tom, you’re excluded, but only because you celebrate with those other guys. 😉

  • Still waiting on that seder invitation, Middle… On the other hand, I get this site to myself for a couple of days.

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