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Palestinian Authority’s Responsibility for the Outbreak of the Second Intifada

Palestinian Authority’s Responsibility for the Outbreak of the Second Intifada

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Yasser Arafat and important segments of the Palestinian leadership were directly responsible for suicide bombing attacks that struck Israel’s major cities during the Second Intifada (2000-2005), leaving more than 1,000 Israelis dead and many more permanently maimed.
Yasser Arafat and important segments of the Palestinian leadership were directly responsible for suicide bombing attacks that struck Israel’s major cities during the Second Intifada (2000-2005), leaving more than 1,000 Israelis dead and many more permanently maimed.

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Published by: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on Jun 16, 2013
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Palestinian  Authority’s  Responsibility  for   the  Outbreak  of  the  Second  Intifada:     Its  Own  Damning  Testimony  

Lt.  Col.  (ret.)  Jonathan  D.  Halevi   February  20,  2013    
No.  594          March-­April  2013   • On  February  11,  2013,  on  Israel’s  Channel  10  television  program   “The  Source,”  it  was  claimed  that  there  was  not  even  an  “iota  of   evidence”  that  the  Palestinian  Authority  leadership,  and  Yasser   Arafat  in  particular,  planned  and  initiated  the  Second  Intifada,  which   began  in  September  2000  and  resulted  in  the  deaths  of  more  than   1,000  Israelis  by  2005.     • Rather,  it  was  claimed  that  this  was  a  spontaneous  popular  uprising   that  ran  counter  to  the  interests  of  the  Palestinian  leadership.  As  a   consequence,  Arafat  appears  to  be  exonerated  by  the  narrative   presented.  The  program  also  reopened  the  old  debate  over  whether   the  Second  Intifada  was  ignited  by  Ariel  Sharon’s  September  2000   visit  to  the  Temple  Mount  in  Jerusalem.   • Yet,  extensive  testimony  at  the  time  and  in  retrospect  demonstrates   the  Palestinian  Authority’s  role  in  initiating  and  managing  the  Second   Intifada  as  an  extensive  terror  onslaught,  designed  to  impose  a   unilateral,  unconditional  withdrawal  upon  Israel,  and  improve   conditions  in  anticipation  of  the  battle  for  realizing  Palestinian   demands  for  the  return  of  the  refugees.   • The  final  decision  to  initiate  the  Second  Intifada  was  made  by  Yasser   Arafat  immediately  upon  the  conclusion  of  the  second  Camp  David   summit,  which  ended  on  July  25,  2000.  Directives  were  disseminated   to  the  national  security  forces,  instructing  them  to  prepare  for  the   immediate  option  of  initiating  a  violent  campaign  against  Israel.  

This  study  presents  the  handwriting  that  was  on  the  wall,  with   statements  referring  to  a  return  to  conflict  by  Yasser  Arafat,  Marwan   Barghouti,  Sakhr  Habash,  Imad  Falluji,  Suha  Arafat,  Ahmed  Ibrahim   Hiles,  Raed  Muhammed,  Jihad  Al-­‐Amarin,  Yasser  Khalil,  and  Nabil   Shaath,  as  well  as  in  official  Palestinian  Authority  publications.  The   study  concludes  with  the  text  of  the  first  proclamation  by  the   National  and  Islamic  Forces,  the  umbrella  group  that  coordinated  the   operations  of  Fatah  and  Hamas  against  Israel.   • Yasser  Arafat  and  important  segments  of  the  Palestinian  leadership   at  that  time  were  directly  responsible  for  what  happened  during  the   Second  Intifada  and  no  amount  of  revisionist  history  can  exonerate   Arafat  for  standing  behind  one  of  the  bloodiest  periods  in  Israel’s   modern  history.   On  February  11,  2013,  on  Israel’s  Channel  10  television  program  “The   Source,”  it  was  claimed  that  there  was  not  even  an  “iota  of  evidence”   that  the  Palestinian  Authority  leadership,  and  Yasser  Arafat  in   particular,  planned  and  initiated  the  Second  Intifada,  which  began  in   September  2000  and  resulted  in  the  deaths  of  more  than  1,000  Israelis   by  2005.   Rather,  it  was  claimed  that  this  was  a  spontaneous  popular  uprising  that   ran  counter  to  the  interests  of  the  Palestinian  leadership.  As  a   consequence,  Arafat  appears  to  be  exonerated  by  the  narrative   presented.  The  program  also  reopened  the  old  debate  over  whether  the   Second  Intifada  was  ignited  by  Ariel  Sharon’s  September  2000  visit  to   the  Temple  Mount  in  Jerusalem.   Yet,  extensive  testimony  at  the  time  and  in  retrospect  demonstrates  the   Palestinian  Authority’s  role  in  initiating  and  managing  the  Second   Intifada  as  an  extensive  terror  onslaught,  designed  to  impose  a   unilateral,  unconditional  withdrawal  upon  Israel,  and  improve   conditions  in  anticipation  of  the  battle  for  realizing  Palestinian  demands   for  the  return  of  the  refugees.   Arafat:  A  Puppet  Leader  or  an  Authoritative  Leader?  

If  the  intifada  “erupted”  by  itself,”  then  Arafat’s  undisputed  leadership  of   the  Palestinian  people  and  Fatah  was  purely  a  myth.  In  fact,  this  would   mean  that  Arafat  was  a  puppet  leader  who  did  not  have  the  power,   leadership,  and  authority  to  sign  a  political  agreement  with  Israel  in  the   name  of  the  Palestinian  people  that  would  put  an  end  to  the  conflict   with  the  Jewish  people  over  Palestine.   Furthermore,  this  would  imply  that  the  Israeli  intelligence  agencies   failed  strategically.  They  all  failed  to  warn  the  Israeli  political  echelon   prior  to  the  2000  Camp  David  conference  about  the  frailty  of  Arafat’s   leadership  and  his  irrelevance  as  a  partner  to  any  peace  agreement   predicated  on  an  historic  compromise.  Yet  the  evidence  demonstrates   the  direct  connection  between  Arafat  and  the  intifada’s  launch  and   management.   Fatah  as  the  Prime  Contractor  of  the  Palestinian  Authority   In  the  years  preceding  the  intifada,  the  Fatah  movement  headed  by   Arafat  functioned  as  the  main  pillar  of  the  strategy  to  engage  in  a   popular  struggle  against  Israel.  Key  events  in  this  struggle  include  the   Temple  Tunnel  incidents  in  1996,  demonstrations  against  Jerusalem’s   Har  Homa  neighborhood  in  1997,  and  the  Days  of  Rage  and  the   “Prisoner  Intifada”  in  May  2000.  Each  of  these  events  helped  to  provide   background  for  the  Second  Intifada  in  September  2000.   Arafat  and  Barghouti  Threaten  a  Return  to  the  Armed  Struggle  and   Intifada   The  initial  signs  indicating  that  a  concrete  decision  had  been  reached  to   launch  a  major  terror  assault  against  Israel  were  discernible  in  the   tough  language  employed  by  Yasser  Arafat  in  meetings  with   the  Shabiba  –  the  Fatah  youth  organization  –  in  Ramallah  and  Nablus   during  that  year.  A  number  of  these  meetings  took  place  in  April  2000,  a   few  months  prior  to  the  second  Camp  David  summit.  As  documented  by   the  Gaza  newspaper  Al-­Mujahid  (April  3,  2000),  Arafat  called  the  young   Fatah  members  “the  new  generals,”  and  threatened  to  “launch  a  new  

intifada”  in  order  to  impose  the  “establishment  of  an  independent   Palestinian  state”  upon  Israel.   Marwan  Barghouti,  subsequently  one  of  the  intifada’s  most  prominent   leaders,  presented  a  revealing  statement  (Akhbar  Al-­Khalil,  March  8,   2000)  on  the  strategy  of  the  Fatah  movement  at  the  beginning  of  2000:   Whoever  believes  that  one  can  reach  a  decision  on  the  issues  of  a   permanent  agreement  [with  Israel]  –  for  example,  on  refugees,  Jerusalem,   settlements,  and  borders  –  via  negotiation  is  living  under  an  illusion.  On   these  matters  we  have  to  wage  a  battle  on  the  ground  in  parallel  to  the   negotiating  framework….I  mean  a  conflict.  We  need  scores  of  battles  on   the  model  of  the  [1996]  Al  Aqsa  Tunnel  battle….One  does  not  combat   settlements  with  pleas  but  by  force  of  arms….It  is  our  people’s  right  to   contend  with  Israelis  in  the  West  Bank,  Gaza,  and  Jerusalem  using  all   means  and  methods.   Two  weeks  prior  to  the  second  Camp  David  summit,  at  a  meeting  of  the   Fatah  movement  in  Nablus  on  June  25,  2000,  Arafat  explicitly  raised  the   option  of  officially  reverting  to  the  strategy  of  “armed  conflict,”  and   implementing  this  strategy  (and  ideology)  on  an  official  basis  and  to  its   full  extent  (in  other  words,  via  the  use  of  terror),  which  Fatah  and  the   PLO  had  previously  championed  prior  to  entering  the  negotiating  track:   We  will  sacrifice…our  lives  for  Palestine….We  are  fighting  for  our   land….Whoever  forgot  this  should  remember  the  battle  of  Karameh  [an   IDF  operation  against  a  terrorist  base  in  Jordan  in  1968  that  is  depicted  as   the  first  Palestinian  victory  over  the  Israeli  Army],  the  Beirut  Campaign   [the  battle  for  Beirut  during  the  First  Lebanon  war],  and  the  seven  years   of  intifada  [the  First  Intifada].  We  are  willing  to  erase  everything  and   start  everything  afresh.”   The  Final  Decision  Following  the  Camp  David  Summit   The  final  decision  to  initiate  the  Second  Intifada  was  made  by  Yasser   Arafat  immediately  upon  the  conclusion  of  the  second  Camp  David   summit,  which  ended  on  July  25,  2000.  Once  the  die  was  cast,  all  that  

remained  was  to  determine  the  timing  and  the  immediate  pretext  for   launching  the  intifada.   The  immediate  and  overt  signals  were  provided  by  Fatah,  which   organized  “spontaneous”  demonstrations  of  support  for  Yasser  Arafat   for  refusing  to  yield  to  pressure  to  forego  fundamental  Palestinian   positions,  while  expressing  a  readiness  to  continue  the  struggle  for   realizing  “the  national  rights  of  the  Palestinian  people.”   In  a  detailed  essay  on  the  second  Camp  David  summit  published  in  Al-­ Hayat  Al-­Jadida  only  nine  days  prior  to  the  beginning  of  the  Second   Intifada  (September  20,  2000),  Sakhr  Habash,  who  was  considered   Fatah’s  official  ideologue,  noted  that  in  response  to  the  Israeli  and   American  proposals,  “brother  Abu  Amar  [Arafat]  spoke  in  the  idiom  of   the  believer  who  views  the  issues  confronting  him  and  the  exalted   Palestinian  people,  regarding  the  conflict  option.”   Habash  belongs  to  Fatah’s  founding  generation.  He  was  a  member  of  the   Fatah  Central  Committee  (Fatah’s  supreme  institution),  was  considered   a  very  close  confidante  of  Arafat,  and  took  part  in  the  consultations  and   contacts  that  Arafat  conducted  with  representatives  of  the  diverse   Palestinian  organizations  during  the  course  of  the  intifada.  Habash  was   frequently  appointed  to  speak  on  behalf  of  Arafat  at  various  events.   The  Palestinian  Security  Forces  Prepare  for  Conflict  with  Israel   The  message  regarding  Palestinian  readiness  to  defend  their   fundamental  principles  was  translated  immediately  following  the   summit  into  directives  that  were  disseminated  to  the  national  security   forces  in  Gaza,  instructing  them  to  prepare  for  the  immediate  option  of   initiating  a  violent  campaign  against  Israel.   In  July  2000,  the  monthly  Al-­Shuhada  (issued  on  behalf  of  the  “political   guidance”  apparatus  and  disseminated  among  Palestinian  National   Security  forces  and  Border  Guards  in  Gaza)  contained  an  order  of  the   day  from  the  Palestinian  leadership  with  instructions  to  prepare  for  the   approaching  confrontation  with  Israel.  

Below  are  the  main  points  cited  by  Ahmed  Ibrahim  Hiles,  commander  of   “political  guidance”  for  the  Border  Guards  of  the  National  Security   forces,  under  the  title:  “The  Battle  Has  Begun”:   A  summons,  a  summons,  a  summons  from  the  delegation  to  the   negotiations  headed  by  Commander  Sergeant  Abu  Amar  to  our  heroic   Palestinian  people:  Be  prepared,  the  battle  for  Jerusalem  has  begun.  This   is  the  meaning  behind  the  Palestinian  delegation’s  return  from  Camp   David  to  the  soil  of  the  homeland  without  abandoning  the  avowed   fundamental  Palestinian  positions:  No  peace  will  exist  without  Jerusalem,   the  eternal  capital  of  the  Palestinian  state.  There  will  be  no  stability  or   security  for  the  entire  region  unless  Israel  accedes  to  the  legitimate   international  demands  that  have  set  the  principle  of  land  for  peace  in   accordance  with  UN  decisions.   Major  Raed  Muhammed,  an  operative  in  the  “political  guidance”   apparatus  of  the  Border  Guards  of  the  National  Security  forces,  notes  in   another  article  from  the  same  issue  that  “the  failure  [of  the  Camp  David   summit]  heralds  the  end  of  the  political  agreement,  and  that  creates  an   opening  for  the  option  of  struggle  and  confrontation.  This  is  the   beginning,  the  natural  beginning,  for  the  demise  of  political  agreements   as  a  method  for  realizing  the  Palestinian  people’s  goals  on  the  path  to  its   liberation.”   On  August  5,  2000,  only  seven  weeks  prior  to  the  beginning  of  the  terror   onslaught,  the  newspaper  Falastin  Al-­Youm  cited  a  Palestinian  source  in   its  main  headline  as  saying:  “In  Order  to  Obtain  Progress  in   Negotiations,  Conflict  Is  Necessary.”  The  article  states:  “A  Palestinian   source  disclosed  to  Falastin  that  the  Camp  David  summit…failed  as  a   result  of  the  Israelis’  insistence  on  their  positions  concerning  all   issues….The  Palestinian  source  believes  that…a  certain  degree  of   conflict  is  necessary  for  the  purpose  of  altering  the  existing  equation.”   The  pioneer  inside  the  Palestinian  security  apparatuses  was  Jihad  Al-­‐ Amarin,  a  senior  Fatah  operative  and  an  intimate  of  Arafat  who  was   smuggled  into  Gaza  in  Arafat’s  car  on  the  day  he  first  arrived  in  Gaza  

following  the  Oslo  Interim  Accords.  Al-­‐Amarin,  who  served  as  the  head   of  the  Palestinian  Police  Operations  Branch  in  Gaza,  translated  Arafat’s   intentions  into  terror  attacks  against  Israel  even  prior  to  the  Second   Intifada  (in  March,  April,  and  June  2000)  and  after  its  outbreak  he   founded  the  Al-­‐Aqsa  Martyrs’  Brigades  in  Gaza.   The  Hour  of  the  Intifada  Has  Arrived;  the  Hour  of  Jihad  Has  Arrived;   the  Hour  of  Jerusalem  Has  Arrived   A  similar  policy  line  supporting  a  new  intifada  against  Israel  and   galvanizing  mass  protests  was  adopted  by  the  Palestinian  Authority’s   Ministry  of  Information.  In  August  2000,  “Events  and  Topics,”  published   by  the  Palestinian  Authority  Ministry  of  Information,  featured  an  article   with  the  headline:  “The  Popular  Aspect  During  and  After  Camp  David”:   We  stand  at  an  historical  crossroad  at  a  most  complex  stage,  in  whose   course  the  fate  of  Jerusalem,  the  refugees,  and  the  state’s  borders  may  well   be  decided.  These  issues  demand  the  unity  of  all  the  forces  in  order  to   create  a  Palestinian  state  of  readiness  that  will  serve  the  national  issues,   and  currently  we  must  prepare  the  masses  so  they  can  prove  capable  of   contending  with  what  the  ensuing  stage  has  in  store.  We’ve  all  witnessed   the  broad  mass  support  and  its  rallying  around  the  Palestinian   negotiating  delegation  upon  its  return  from  Camp  David  and  we  saw  the   sense  of  exaltation  and  victory  of  the  Palestinian  delegation  following  the   reception  it  received….However,  the  escalation  in  mass  activity  mandates   tougher  activity  in  the  stages  that  will  precede  victory  and  in  a  manner   that  allows  the  masses  to  fulfill  their  role  in  serving  the  national  cause  so   they  will  not  be  merely  eyewitnesses  to  the  events  relevant  to  determining   their  fate.   On  September  11,  2000,  about  three  weeks  prior  to  the  beginning  of  the   Second  Intifada,  the  handwriting  on  the  wall  was  clear.  In  an  article  in   the  newspaper  Al-­Sabah,  the  official  organ  of  the  Palestinian  Authority,   Yasser  Khalil  (apparently  the  pseudonym  of  the  paper’s  editor,  Sari  Al-­‐ Kidwa)  announced  the  imminent  timing  and  the  expected  pretext  

(Jerusalem)  for  the  launch  of  “the  intifada  and  jihad  campaign”  against   Israel:   The  defense  of  Jerusalem  requires  blood,  we  can  only  defend  Jerusalem   with  blood,  the  time  of  victory  and  the  fall  of  the  martyr  has  arrived….The   battle  of  Jerusalem  is  the  mother  of  battles….We  will  advance  and   proclaim  a  comprehensive  intifada  for  Jerusalem,  the  hour  of  the  intifada   has  arrived;  the  hour  of  the  intifada  has  arrived;  the  hour  of  jihad  has   arrived;  the  hour  of  Jerusalem  has  arrived  and  Jerusalem  beckons.   Fatah  Prepares  for  the  Conflict  with  Israel   Due  to  the  failure  of  the  Camp  David  summit,  the  Fatah  movement   declared  an  emergency  situation  and  began  to  make  preparations  for   conflict  on  all  levels,  beginning  with  raising  awareness  of  an  impending   major  conflict  and  concluding  with  military  training.  Marwan  Barghouti,   who  headed  Fatah’s  Supreme  Council  in  the  West  Bank,  was  cited  in  the   newspaper  Falastinuna  on  July  31,  2000,  as  saying  that  the  failure  of   negotiations  opens  the  gates  for  the  Palestinian  people  to  realize  “all  the   options.”  He  noted  that  extensive  time  existed  to  attain  readiness  and  to   announce  a  general  mobilization  in  the  ranks  of  the  Palestinian  people.   Barghouti’s  statement  was  not  made  in  a  vacuum.  In  practice,  the   security  apparatuses  of  the  Palestinian  Authority  and  the  “political   guidance”  apparatus,  in  collaboration  with  the  Fatah  movement,   conducted  scores  of  summer  camps  during  the  summer  months  of  2000   for  youngsters  in  all  areas  of  the  Palestinian  Authority,  in  whose   framework  thousands  of  young  people  were  trained  in  the  use  of  arms   and  to  attack  soldiers  and  Jewish  settlers  using  rocks  and  firebombs.   Falastinuna  reported  on  September  17,  2000,  on  the  eve  of  the  Second   Intifada,  that  the  ranks  of  the  Fatah  organization  were  placed  on  high   alert,  as  a  preparatory  stage  toward  the  declaration  of  a  Palestinian   state.   The  Palestinian  Minister  of  Planning  and  International  Cooperation,  Dr.   Nabil  Shaath,  said  during  a  meeting  in  Khan  Yunis  one  day  prior  to  the   outbreak  of  the  intifada  (Al-­Ayyam,  September  29,  2000)  that  the  

Palestinian  Authority  will  work  to  restore  the  land  via  a  peace  process,   and  if  the  matter  will  fail,  the  Palestinians’  only  remaining  recourse  is   conflict.  He  clarified  that  the  Palestinian  people  hope  that  the  leadership   will  succeed  in  restoring  their  rights  via  a  peace  process.  However,  he   noted  the  possibility  that  an  agreement  would  not  be  reached  in  the   course  of  the  current  negotiations  and  that  the  situation  would   deteriorate,  and  called  upon  the  Palestinian  people  to  “be  ready  and   prepared  for  all  alternative  options.”   Arafat  Orchestrates  the  Intifada  Through  the  National  and  Islamic   Forces   From  the  very  first  day  of  the  Second  Intifada,  a  coordinated  front  of  the   major  power  centers  in  the  Palestinian  arena  operated  under  the  name   of  the  National  and  Islamic  Forces.  This  front  was  loyal  to  Arafat  and   served  as  the  supreme  coordinating  framework  for  managing  the   intifada,  organizing  joint  activities  against  Israel,  and  resolving  disputes   between  the  organizations.   Additional  Palestinian  organizations  joined  Fatah,  including  Hamas,   Islamic  Jihad,  the  Popular  Front  for  the  Liberation  of  Palestine,  the   Palestinian  Democratic  Union  (FIDA),  the  Arab  Liberation  Front,  the   Democratic  Front  for  the  Liberation  of  Palestine,  the  Palestinian   People’s  Party,  the  Palestinian  Popular  Struggle  Front,  the  Palestinian   Liberation  Front,  and  the  Palestinian  Arab  Front.  This  coordinating   framework  was  of  vast  importance  in  setting  strategy  for  the  intifada   and  it  was  set  up  in  response  to  lessons  learned  from  the  divisions  that   had  plagued  the  First  Intifada.   Attesting  to  the  direct  involvement  of  the  Palestinian  Authority  in   managing  and  guiding  the  Second  Intifada  is  the  first  manifesto  issued   on  behalf  of  the  National  and  Islamic  Forces  on  September  30,  2000  (see   Appendix  for  complete  text).  This  proclamation  bears  the  seal  of  the   Palestinian  Ministry  of  Information  (an  official  ministry  within  the   Palestinian  Authority  government),  alongside  a  comment  by  one  of  the  

responsible  parties  in  the  Information  Ministry  with  the  directive:   “disseminate  [the  proclamation]  to  everyone.”   In  subsequent  announcements  of  the  National  and  Islamic  Forces,   directives  were  issued  to  continue  activity  against  Israel,  while  noting   special  dates  and  occasions  for  escalating  violent  mass  action.   For  example,  a  proclamation  of  the  National  and  Islamic  Forces  of   October  3,  2000,  called  for  continuing  the  “blessed  popular  intifada”  and   lauded  the  masses  and  forces  of  our  people  in  the  Galilee,  in  the   Triangle,  on  the  Coastal  Plain  and  in  the  Negev  for  their  brave  stance   [referring  to  the  riots  of  October  2000  involving  Israel’s  Arab  citizens].   “The  National  and  Islamic  Forces  have  set  the  days  of  October  4  and  5,   2000,  as  days  of  national  mourning  in  memory  of  those  who  fell  on  the   national  soil  in  defense  of  Al  Quds  [Jerusalem]  and  Palestine,”  and  called   on  the  Palestinian  people  “to  continue  escalating  the  organized  popular   actions  of  confronting  the  soldiers  of  the  Israeli  occupation  and  the   Zionist  settlers  in  Al  Quds,  the  West  Bank  and  Gaza.”   A  proclamation  of  the  National  and  Islamic  Forces  on  October  27,  2000,   set  “October  29  as  a  day  of  general  escalation,  in  which  parades  and   demonstrations  of  rage  would  set  out  in  all  parts  of  the  homeland  with  a   demand  to  remove  the  occupation.”  In  this  proclamation  the  National   and  Islamic  Forces  lauded  the  Palestinian  people  in  honor  of  “the   blessed  intifada  [entering]  its  second  month.”   It  should  be  emphasized  that  the  announcements  of  the  National  and   Islamic  Forces  were  published  in  a  prominent  and  accentuated  fashion   in  the  official  Palestinian  media  that  was  totally  controlled  by  the   Palestinian  Authority,  and  they  served  as  a  manifesto  for  public  action   following  a  detailed  plan,  and  enjoying  the  full  support  of  the  Palestinian   Authority.   Moreover,  Palestinian  government  ministries  fully  collaborated  with  the   National  and  Islamic  Forces  and  the  local  and  regional  committees,   which  they  established  to  reinforce  the  steadfast  Palestinian  stand   during  the  intifada.  In  its  early  days,  calls  by  the  National  and  Islamic  

Forces  for  mass  demonstrations,  which  were  for  all  intents  and   purposes  violent  and  widespread  riots,  were  synchronized  with  the   Palestinian  Ministry  of  Education  and  involved  many  schoolchildren.   The  Chairman  of  the  Palestinian  Authority,  Yasser  Arafat,  made  direct,   personal  use  of  the  National  and  Islamic  Forces  in  order  to  coordinate   intifada  activity,  to  ensure  that  the  acts  of  violence  and  terror  attacks   would  facilitate  the  attainment  of  the  PA’s  and  PLO’s  political  and   strategic  objectives,  as  delineated  by  Arafat  himself  and  his  loyalists  and   fellow  travelers  in  the  leadership.   Thus,  for  example,  after  the  suicide  bombing  in  the  Dolphinarium  night   club  in  Tel  Aviv  on  June  1,  2002,  carried  out  by  Hamas,  and  as  a  result  of   the  severe  international  pressure  applied  on  the  PA  to  desist  from   terror  and  act  against  terrorist  organizations,  Arafat  convened  the   senior  forum  of  the  National  and  Islamic  Forces  and  directed  them  to   temporarily  lower  the  flames  of  the  intifada;  in  other  words,  reduce  the   level  and  severity  of  the  violence  on  a  temporary  basis  for  purely   tactical  reasons.  This  act  demonstrated  the  commanding  ability  of  the   Palestinian  leadership  to  manage  and  direct  the  terror  campaign  against   Israel  and  control  the  extent  and  intensity  of  the  terror  in  light  of   changing  circumstances.  Their  major  considerations  were  how  the   international  arena  would  react  and  the  degree  to  which  they  feared  an   extensive  Israeli  military  response.   The  Intifada  Was  Not  a  Tactic  But  a  Strategic  Choice   The  role  of  Arafat,  the  Palestinian  Authority,  and  the  National  and   Islamic  Forces  in  the  Second  Intifada  was  revealed  by  Sakhr  Habash,  a   key  Fatah  leader  quoted  earlier,  who  took  part  in  meetings  with   representatives  of  the  National  and  Islamic  Forces.  Habash  told  the   Lebanese  paper  Al-­Mostaqbal  on  September  29,  2001:   The  intifada’s  policy  and  its  demands  are  determined  by  our  brother  Abu   Amar  (Arafat)  and  the  Palestinian  Authority,  and  more  importantly,  on   the  ground  [policy  is  set  by  the  National  and  Islamic  Forces],  in  other   words,  fourteen  organizations  that  are  capable  of  continuing  the  intifada  

and  the  muqawama  [resistance/struggle]….The  intifada  is  not  a  tactic,   but  our  basic  strategic  choice  until  the  occupation  has  been  removed,  and   liberty  and  an  independent  state  free  of  settlements  has  been  obtained.   Even  if  we  were  to  establish  a  state  the  intifada  and  the  struggle  would   continue,  perhaps  via  other  means,  because  it  is  obligatory  to  realize  the   refugees’  right  of  return.   How  the  Decision  on  the  Outbreak  of  the  Intifada  Was  Taken   A  year  after  the  Second  Intifada  began,  Mamdouh  Nofal,  one  of  Yasser   Arafat’s  advisers,  described  how  the  decision  to  launch  the  intifada  was   made  (Al-­Dirasat  Al-­Filastiniya,  Summer  2001):   It  [the  intifada]  is  not  a  mass  movement  distinct  from  the  Authority  or   something  that  erupted  by  itself.  The  reverse  is  the  case;  it  began  on  the   basis  of  a  decision  from  above  by  the  Authority  before  it  turned  into   popular  activity.  The  matter  occurred  immediately  after  the  visit  by   Sharon  to  Al  Aqsa.  At  that  time  the  political  and  security  bodies  of  the   Palestinian  Authority  convened  and  made  a  decision  to  defend  Al  Aqsa.   Arafat  viewed  Al  Aqsa  as  the  detonation  point  of  the  status  quo  that  would   suffice  to  ignite  a  conflagration  not  only  on  Palestinian  soil  but  would  also   impact  the  situation  outside  the  boundaries  of  Palestine.  Decisions  were   made  that  dealt  with  practical  preparations,  and  meetings  were  held  by   the  forces  that  participated  in  the  Authority,  and  it  was  decided  to  move   them  towards  Al  Aqsa  on  Friday.  Likewise,  security  measures  for  the   mosque  were  reinforced  by  bringing  in  additional  guards  and  issuing   directives  to  the  security  apparatuses  to  enter  Al  Aqsa  and  defend  it.   This  dovetails  with  the  statement  by  Nofal  in  an  interview  with  the   French  weekly  Le  Nouvel  Observateur  (March  1,  2001),  according  to   which  Arafat  planned  to  launch  the  conflict  with  Israel  prior  to  Sharon’s   visit  on  the  Temple  Mount.  According  to  Nofal,  “A  few  days  before  the   visit  by  Sharon  to  the  mosque,  when  Arafat  asked  us  to  get  ready  to   initiate  the  conflict,  I  supported  mass  demonstrations  and  opposed  the   use  of  arms.”  

Nofal  noted  further  that  the  head  of  Preventive  Security  in  the  West   Bank,  Jibril  Rajoub,  warned  Arafat  of  the  danger  posed  by  a  military   conflict.  But  his  efforts  proved  in  vain,  for  Arafat  was  persuaded  that   within  two  or  three  days  the  situation  would  become  insufferable  to  the   point  where  the  Americans  and  the  Arabs  would  advise  Israeli  Prime   Minister  Ehud  Barak  to  renew  negotiations.   Approximately  five  months  after  the  outbreak  of  the  intifada  (March  3,   2001),  Imad  Falluji,  the  PA’s  Minister  of  Communications,  admitted  that   the  Second  Intifada  was  not  a  spontaneous  uprising  but  planned  by  the   PA  following  the  breakdown  of  the  Camp  David  talks  in  July  2000.   According  to  an  AP  report,  in  the  course  of  a  visit  to  Lebanon,  Falluji   remarked  that  it  would  be  a  mistake  to  think  the  intifada  had  broken  out   in  response  to  Ariel  Sharon’s  visit  to  the  Temple  Mount  at  the  end  of   September.  “It  was  planned  since  Arafat’s  return  from  Camp  David,  and   his  rejection  of  the  American  President  Bill  Clinton’s  proposals,”  stated   Falluji.   In  a  November  12,  2011,  interview  with  Yasser  Arafat’s  widow,  Suha   Arafat,  on  Palestinian  Television,  she  made  reference  to  the  date  of   Arafat’s  decision  to  initiate  the  Second  Intifada.  “Arafat  sent  us  far  away   before  the  invasion  of  Ramallah.  He  said:  ‘You  have  to  leave  Palestine,   because  I  want  to  start  an  intifada.’…He  ordered  us  to  leave  because  he   had  already  decided  to  carry  out  the  intifada  following  the  Oslo  Accords   and  the  failure  of  Camp  David  (the  Israeli-­‐Palestinian  talks  in  July   2000).”   In  a  Dubai  Television  interview  on  December  16,  2012,  Suha  repeated   her  version:  “Yasser  Arafat  made  a  decision  to  initiate  the  intifada  right   after  the  failure  of  the  Camp  David  talks.  We  met  in  Paris  and  he  asked   me  to  remain  there.  When  I  asked  why  he  said  ‘because  I  am  going  to   start  an  intifada.’”  As  to  Arafat’s  motive  for  starting  the  intifada,  Suha   said:  “He  told  me  that  during  the  talks  he  was  asked  to  betray  the   Palestinian  people,  but  he  was  not  about  to  do  so.”  

Senior  Hamas  Official:  Arafat  Gave  the  Green  Light  to  Terror   Immediately  After  Camp  David  Summit   Mahmoud  Al-­‐Zahar,  one  of  Hamas’  senior  leaders,  admitted  receiving  a   green  light  to  initiate  terror  attacks  immediately  after  the  Camp  David   summit.  According  to  a  report  in  Al  Quds  (April  9,  2005),  Al-­‐Zahar  noted  

that  the  Palestinian  Authority  has  reached  the  point  that  Hamas  had   warned  about,  namely  the  Israeli  occupation’s  renunciation  of  the   signed  agreements  with  the  PLO,  making  it  clear  that  “due  to  the  failure   of  the  negotiations  at  Camp  David,  the  PLO  began  telling  Hamas  that  the   gate  was  now  open  for  carrying  out  actions  [terror  attacks  against   Israel].  Hamas,  however,  didn’t  place  credence  in  these  approaches,  and   despite  this  it  carried  out  actions  under  the  name  of  the  Forces  of  Omar   Al-­‐Mukhtar.”   Asharq  Alawsat  reported  on  June  29,  2010,  that  Mahmoud  Al-­‐Zahar   stated  at  a  ceremony  marking  the  anniversary  of  the  Second  Intifada,   that  “Yasser  Arafat  ordered  the  Hamas  movement  to  carry  out  a  number   of  military  actions  in  the  heart  of  the  Hebrew  state,  after  he  felt  that  the   current  negotiations  with  the  occupation  government  had  failed.”   In  an  interview  with  the  official  website  of  the  Hamas  movement   (palestine-­‐info.info)  in  October  2010,  Al-­‐Zahar  was  asked  about  his   comment  regarding  the  permission  that  Arafat  had  granted  to  begin   carrying  out  terror  attacks  on  the  eve  of  the  Second  Intifada:   [Question]:  You  said  in  previous  comments  that  President  Abu  Amar   [Yasser  Arafat]  instructed  Hamas  to  carry  out  terror  attacks  while  he  was   besieged  in  Ramallah.  Can  we  expect  that  [current  Palestinian  President]   Abu  Mazen  [Mahmoud  Abbas]  will  reach  such  a  stage  in  his  conduct  with   the  [Hamas]  movement?   [Mahmoud  Al-­Zahar]:  Abu  Amar  did  not  instruct  Fatah  to  talk  with   Hamas  about  carrying  out  terror  attacks  as  part  of  a  concept  that   supports  resistance,  but  because  he  desired  to  exploit  terror  attacks  for   tactical  purposes.  I  remember  that  I  participated  in  a  popular  committee   [meeting]  with  senior  leaders  of  the  Fatah  movement  –  Hani  Al-­Hassan,  

Abu  Ali  Shahin  and  Abdullah  Al-­Hourani  –  [that  took  place]  in  Al-­Sheikh   Al-­Awad  Auditorium  at  Al-­Azhar  [University  in  Gaza].  At  that  time  the   people  attending  the  conference  raised  the  necessity  for  Hamas  to  carry   out  terror  attacks  against  the  Israeli  occupation,  and  this  matter  was  no   secret.  Abu  Amar  wanted  this  as  a  tactical  measure  for  pressuring  Israel   via  Hamas.  Abu  Mazen  has  neither  the  courage  nor  the  vision,  and  he  is   incapable  of  betting  his  life  on  such  an  issue.  With  these  words  I  intended   to  put  the  idea  before  the  public  that  resistance  was  employed  at  specific   points  of  time  for  tactical  objectives,  and  it  departs  from  a  concept  that   seeks  to  improve  negotiating  conditions.  Therefore  I’m  not  interested  in  a   repeat  attempt  where  we  will  make  use  of  reconciliation  and  resistance  in   order  to  improve  negotiating  conditions,  but  it  is  necessary  that  they   [reconciliation  and  resistance]  be  predicated  on  a  strategic  concept  and   perspective.   Conclusion   More  than  ten  years  after  the  outbreak  of  the  Second  Intifada,  there  are   still  journalists,  former  security  officials,  and  pundits  who  raise   questions  about  the  role  of  the  Palestinian  Authority  in  the  devastating   violence  during  which  suicide  bombing  attacks  struck  Israel’s  major   cities,  leaving  more  than  a  thousand  dead  and  many  more  permanently   maimed.   Israel  Channel  10  television’s  “The  Source”  presented  in  February  2013   what  appeared  to  be  a  debate  between  the  Israel  Security  Agency  (Shin   Bet)  and  Israeli  Military  Intelligence  over  this  issue.  But  one  does  not   have  to  be  an  intelligence  officer  to  review  the  statements  made  by  the   Palestinian  leaders  themselves  about  the  origins  of  the  Second  Intifada.   This  body  of  material,  presented  here  in  an  unvarnished  way,  reveals   that  Yasser  Arafat  and  important  segments  of  the  Palestinian  leadership   at  that  time  were  directly  responsible  for  what  happened  and  no   amount  of  revisionist  history  can  exonerate  Arafat  for  standing  behind   one  of  the  bloodiest  periods  in  Israel’s  modern  history.      

Appendix   The  First  Proclamation  of  the  National  and  Islamic  Forces  Upon  the   Outbreak  of  the  Second  Intifada   In  the  name  of  Allah  the  merciful  and  compassionate,   Announcement  on  behalf  of  the  National  and  Islamic  Forces   Oh  members  of  our  grand  people,   The  premeditated  crime  that  was  committed  by  the  Barak  government,   that  found  expression  in  yesterday’s  firing  [September  29,  2000]  upon   worshipers  at  Al  Aqsa  Mosque,  and  the  protection  extended  to  these   provocative  measures  by  the  butcher  Sharon  who  defiled  the  sacred  place   (Al  Haram  Al  Sharif),  represent  the  crossing  of  a  red  line,  a  flagrant   escalation  of  the  position  of  haughtiness  and  derision  for  our  people’s   sentiments,  a  denial  of  its  rights,  and  an  attempt  to  secure  illegal  Israeli   sovereignty  in  Al  Quds  and  the  holy  places.   The  National  and  Islamic  Forces,  convening  today  [September  30,  2000]   on  the  eve  of  this  cruel  act  of  slaughter,  announce  a  summons  to  the   masses  of  our  people  to  continue  the  great  popular  action  in  protest  over   the  criminal  slaughter  and  the  continued  Israeli  defilement  of  the  sacred   place,  and  other  places  holy  to  Islam  and  Christianity,  and  under  the   motto  of  the  struggle  to  emphasize  full  Palestinian  sovereignty  over  Al   Quds  and  thwart  any  plan  that  stands  in  contradiction  to  this  sovereignty.   In  this  framework  the  National  and  Islamic  Forces  demand  that  the   Palestinian  National  Authority  refrain  from  any  activity  that  will  restrain   the  impetus  of  mass  action,  and  call  for:   A  declaration  of  comprehensive  readiness  within  the  ranks  of  all  the   organizations  to  continue  the  mass  activity,  the  immediate  initiation  of   meetings  by  the  National  and  Islamic  Forces  of  groups  and  institutions  in   various  districts  and  regions  in  order  to  pursue  the  activity.  The  forum   made  a  decision  that  it  views  itself  as  continuously  in  session  in  order  to   monitor  the  mass  activity.   An  announcement  that  next  Monday  [October  2,  2000],  the  date  marking   the  liberation  of  Al  Quds  by  the  hero  Salah  A  Din  Al-­Ayoubi,  will  be  a  day  

for  escalating  comprehensive  mass  activity  in  order  to  liberate  the  holy   city  and  emphasize  Palestinian  sovereignty  over  it.   A  summons  to  the  masses  of  our  people  to  continue  the  protest  activity  in   the  Al  Aqsa  Mosque  and  formulate  a  plan  for  organized  visits  by  college   students  and  school  pupils  at  the  initiative  of  the  National  and  Islamic   Forces  in  the  [diverse]  regions  in  cooperation  with  the  Ministry  of   Education  and  Culture  and  the  Ministry  of  Higher  Education.   Congratulations  to  the  masses  of  our  people  within  the  boundaries  of   1948  and  the  masses  who  announced  their  steadfastness  behind  the  Al   Aqsa  [Mosque]  who  displayed  a  readiness  to  sacrifice  on  its  behalf,  and   who  translated  this  position  into  unity  with  the  blood  that  was  shed  on  the   soil  of  blessed  Al  Aqsa  and  activity  to  reinforce  the  unity  of  our  people   wherever  it  may  be  in  the  struggle  for  the  defense  of  its  holy  places  and  on   behalf  of  its  legitimate  rights.   The  defense  system  for  Al  Quds  requires  measures  to  reinforce  our   national  unity,  the  cohesion  of  our  society,  and  the  organization  of  our   internal  front,  and  first  and  foremost  the  release  of  all  the  political   prisoners  and  a  ban  on  political  arrests.   A  demand  to  halt  the  negotiations  that  are  currently  taking  place  as  a   protest  against  the  bloody  crime  and  the  continued  Israeli  derision  for  our   people,  the  denial  of  its  rights,  a  matter  that  makes  continued   negotiations  sterile  and  fruitless,  given  Israeli  stubbornness  and  the  blind   American  tendency  to  back  Israel,  that  found  expression  in  a  law  recently   adopted  by  the  American  Congress  that  merits  condemnation.   A  demand  for  the  immediate  release  of  a  fighter  from  the  National   Security  [forces],  who  fired  in  Kalkilya  at  soldiers  of  the  occupation  in   response  to  Israeli  arrogance  and  the  defilement  of  the  places  sacred  to   Islam,  by  the  Israelis,  who  bear  the  complete  political  and  moral   responsibility  for  the  explosion  of  a  cycle  of  violence  due  to  the  continued   occupation  and  its  continued  aggressive  and  intemperate  activities.   A  call  upon  the  Arab  and  Islamic  world,  both  peoples  and  governments,  to   take  practical  measures  to  defend  Al  Quds  and  its  holy  places,  and  express  

solidarity  with  our  people  and  sustain  its  struggle  on  behalf  of  the  holy   city’s  liberation,  and  to  emphasize  Palestinian  sovereignty  over  it.   The  National  and  Islamic  Forces  congratulate  the  souls  of  the  martyrs   [shahids]  of  the  Al  Aqsa  massacre,  and  the  other  martyrs  of  our  people,   and  we  swear  before  the  masses  of  our  people  to  continue  the  struggle  in   fealty  to  their  blood,  until  the  occupation  will  be  removed  and  the  rights  of   our  people  to  return  and  enjoy  national  independence  speedily  will  be   extracted  by  force.   Victory  to  our  people  that  is  waging  a  jihad  and  defeat  for  the  occupation.   The  Palestinian  National  Liberation  Movement  –  Fatah   The  Popular  Front  for  the  Liberation  of  Palestine   The  Palestinian  Democratic  Union  –  FIDA   The  Arab  Liberation  Front   The  Islamic  Resistance  Movement  –  Hamas   The  Democratic  Front  for  the  Liberation  of  Palestine   The  Palestinian  People’s  Party   The  Palestinian  Popular  Struggle  Front   The  Palestinian  Arab  Front  

 

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