Al-Quds News Network conducted an exclusive interview with Comrade Abu Ahmad Fuad, Deputy General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, in Istanbul where he spoke on the Palestinian national struggle and challenges following the aggression on Gaza.
Below is the interview text:
Q. After the PFLP’s recent elections and conference, is there a renewal of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, commensurate with this period of change?
A. The Seventh Conference of the PFLP has produced quite a bit, especially in regard to the political program in regard to the developments in the region. In addition to this, there are new internal frameworks developed by the conference, which elected a new leadership. Looking at these elections, there was a renewal rate of 60-65% in the governing bodies of the Front, the Central Committee and Political Bureau, in addition to increasing the number of young people in the Front’s leadership, there are three women elected to the Political Bureau and no less than 20 militant Palestinian women in the Central Committee, which is not the case in other Palestinian factions. The conference did recognize the role of young people and of women, but we recognize that more is needed on this front, as simply using an electoral process does not guarantee the true inclusion and full voice of young people and of women. In regard to the position of the Front, it is not much different than that it has held continuously, but does take into account the developments which have occurred, including the internal Palestinian division and how we are addressing this.
Q. We see a shift to political decision making outside Palestine. What other kind of changes have taken place by the leadership of the Front following the Conference?
A. In our conferences, our review and self-criticism includes the political and organizational sides, to assess what has taken place and what our next steps must be. We admit our mistakes, which is documented in the results of the Conference. Whatever mistakes, large or small, are reviewed, and we look to see what issues must take precedence over other matters, and what areas of work must be changed from their previous form.
Q. With regard to armed struggle, what did the recent conference discuss?
A. As we previously have held the resistance and armed struggle to be a primary concern, and after this conference, we give armed struggle and resistance a higher level of attention, whether in Gaza or outside Palestine, working openly on this issue and making efforts in this area, in particular inside occupied Palestine; this does not mean that we reject in principle armed action in other areas. We give serious thought to military action in the countries surrounding Palestine, in partnership with local forces or the Lebanese resistance, if possible. Military action against the enemy should not be limited to Gaza only, but throughout all of occupied Palestine, and where outside that we are able to do so.
Q. At a time when some have considered the war on Gaza a victory for the resistance and others have denied this. In the opinion of Abu Ahmad Fuad, is the end of the Gaza war a victory?
A. There are standards to measure a victory. The first criterion is if the enemy did not achieve its objectives, this is the key element of victory. The enemy clearly did not achieve its military or political objectives. What the enemy achieved is committing massacres against civilians and children, which is a disgrace. Its brutal crimes has raised opposition and revulsion to the enemy in world public opinion, and we want the people of the world to see the video and audio of these crimes.
Q. We have heard that the factions were unified at the beginning of the war, but it has since become apparent the differences and gaps between the factions in the rounds of negotiations in Cairo. How is the coordination proceeding given the political differences that have emerged?
A. In the battlefield, there must be a unified command. When each resistance faction works separately it is confusing, so we focused on the need for a unified operations room, which is what happened. As a result of this unity of the resistance, there was a unified delegation to the indirect negotations in Cairo. Now, we want to maintain that joint operations room at all times, whether military action is in open conflict or at the level of training, manufacture of rockets and explosives, we want to see this remain joint work, which leads to a creation of a unified political program for the resistance effort, and we will work to achieve this.
It has been portrayed by some that all Palestinian factions are negotiating and agree to negotiations, and this is not true. To be precise, the united negotiating team in Cairo is a temporary delegation for indirect negotiations on specific issues related to the people’s demands and to a cease-fire. This does not reflect itself on the negotiations carried out by the Palestinian Authority and the leadership monopolizing the Palestine Liberation Organization – we reject these direct negotiations clearly and explicitly.
Q. You mentioned in your speech that the resistance factions’ negotiating team were surprised by Abu Mazen’s announcement of a cease fire. Could you clarify this point?
A. The negotiating team in Cairo was not familiar with the ceasefire agreement. The delegation had submitted a final paper, unanimous demands by the resistance factions and those agreed to be postponed, notably the airport. The rest of the demands remained, including lifting the siege, the entry of construction miles, the fishery of 12 miles or 6 nautical miles, these were all in the paper presented to the Egyptian side, which presented in turn to the Israeli side. The Israeli delegation left in order to carry out the assassination attempt against Mohammed Deif and did not reply to the demands.
In the meantime, the delegation was not functioning, as the Egyptians noted that there was “nothing that can be done,” as the Israeli delegation left. On this basis, the delegation members returned to meet with their leadership in Qatar, Lebanon, Syria and Gaza, and then received word that the Egyptian side had received a response from the Israeli side and was calling back the Palestinian delegation. To their surprise, Abu Mazen declared a cease-fire, before the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, and we learned after that this decision came from the United States of America without review by the factions, it was arranged between Qatar and Turkey on the one hand and between Abu Mazen and the United States on the other side.
Q. So, the resistance factions were surprised that Abu Mazen would be declaring a ceasefire?
A. Yes, no one was aware of this.
Q. You have spoken repeatedly about national unity and its importance, but is it not negative for the Popular Front to assert a position of neutrality on the dispute between Fateh and Hamas, in particular as it has been shown that there is a dispute between two projects, the resistance project and the project of the Authority, with its obvious features in the West Bank, where all attempts at resistance are suppressed?
A. We are not on the fence, we are part of this struggle, but we are not lined up next to a party at the expense of our national unity. We stand clearly in the trench of resistance and we are not in the trench of the Authority. Our positions on Oslo and negotiations is clear, we reject them categorically. What we do is act as a third party and make efforts between the parties, until we restore national unity as a primary objective.
Q. What about the talk about the disarming of the resistance, and the argument that “resistance weapons are illegal weapons, and the weapons of the security services of the Palestinian Authority are the only legitimate weapon”?
A. Those who want to disarm the resistance will be defeated. The enemy, with all its military capacity, could not take the resistance’s weapons. The weapons of the resistance will not be taken, because this is the will of the Palestinian people, not in Gaza, or in the West Bank, or in 1948 Occupied Palestine or in all regions of the diaspora. This is the consensus of our people. Our people every day teach us lessons of steadfastness. Our people have always been great teachers, but some leaders do not learn.
Q. You state that Egypt is the only choice of guarantor (around Gaza) despite its negative role on the resistance and the siege on Gaza, the closure of the crossings and the resistance’s supply lines. How can we trust Egypt?
A. Egypt is the gateway of Gaza, and you know that there are two million people in Gaza. There is a need to maintain good relations with Egypt, even if we disagree politically. The other option, in the other direction, is Israel, and we cannot accept this as a Front and as Palestinians. The other reason is that the Front is relying on the people of Egypt who will not allow these abuses. It is true that media personalities are engaging in incitement in Egypt, but if we go back in history, we find that Sadat cursed Palestinians and said they are traitors, but the Egyptian people said to him, no, you are a traitor and not the Palestinian people. We believe the Egyptian people will know the Palestinian people in Gaza as brothers and as allies, it is only a matter of time.
Q. The Palestinian Authority derives its legitimacy from the PLO, and is engaging in all practices rejected by the Front, from the negotiations, to security coordination, and other such actions. The PFLP is an essential part of the PLO, would you expect one day for the Front to take a bold step to withdraw from the PLO in the event of failure to respond to its demands and go to a unified national framework to withdraw any legitimacy from such practices?
A. The Palestinian Authority is a reality, but we do not recognize it as legitimate. It is unfortunate that the results of the first intifada and the second have been embodied in this caricature of sovereignty. The entire Palestinian people does not trust the Authority. We say the Oslo agreement must be cancelled, we have taken this position at the PLO Central Council, and the PFLP delegation walked ou tof the Central Council meeting; the PLO leadership then stopped inviting Comrade Khalida Jarrar to the meetings, and acted to prevent the Front from exercising its rights in the PLO. Abu Mazen said this is because we withdrew from the meeting, but we withdrew from the meeting because we refuse to be listed as a party to negotiations or approval of negotiations.
The PFLP is engaged in conflict and struggle within the PLO, but on the basis of unity. There is a big difference between the PLO and some of its institutions, and if the situation were necessary to take this position, we would continue to have a relationship with the institutions of the PLO, but until this moment, the option we would prefer is to unify our efforts and positions for national struggle.