‘Egyptian revolution inspires hope in Palestine’

May 9, 2011 - 0:0

TEHRAN -- The Egyptian revolution has incited fresh hopes among the Palestinians, Palestinian activist and political analyst has said.

“Palestinians feel very encouraged and very cheered by Egyptian support because we knew that Egypt's people have never accepted (former Egyptian dictator Hosni] Mubarak's policies of keeping the Palestinian population penned up and starving,” said Ghada Karmi, author and co-director of center for Palestine studies in a Press TV interview.
In February, a people’s revolution in Egypt led to the ouster of pro-Israeli regime of Mubarak after three decades of authoritarian rule.
Karmi describes the event as “hugely important,” adding that positive developments emerging with regard to Palestine are the most significant.
Following is the text of the interview:
Q: This is a historic week. Does it feel historic from where you are coming from?
A: Not really. It feels good. We are very happy that these two Palestinian parties, which have been feuding for years now quite unwisely -- This could only play to Israel's advantage -- finally realized that's not the way forward and they should unite and get together.
That is very good and it's very sensible. However, we really must not get carried away. After all they are talking about a local situation among a third of the worldwide Palestinian people. So we have to put these things in perspective.
You know there must be about ten or eleven million Palestinians worldwide. The people of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza number about 3.5 million.
So that gives you an idea of the fact that this is not the majority of the Palestinians, and it in itself does not indicate that the problem of Palestine will actually be resolved. It is a very encouraging and positive step.
Q: Do you see Israel as being ready to negotiate with a coalition government? The early signs coming from Netanyahu's government have been very negative. Such as, (many saying,) 'we will not deal with Hamas until they recognize Israel and denounce violence. In fact I think Netanyahu said we will not deal with Hamas at all.' Where does that lead the coalition government?
A: It is very clear that Israel has not been ready to negotiate in good faith with the Palestinian side. I think it's not too mistaken to say ever, they have never negotiated in good faith. They've been through negotiations and got what they wanted. And of course they want to keep the process going without conceding to anything. And of course using the time they've gained to take more Palestinian territory. That's the Israeli ploy.
Q: The Former Palestinian Delegate to the United Kingdom said there is a lot of process and no peace.
A: Exactly, and I don't think I see that changing. Netanyahu has actually condemned this agreement. He said that Fatah and Hamas must decide whether it wishes to negotiate with Israel or Hamas. That means in other words if Hamas is on board then there can be no negotiations with Israel.
Q: What is your opinion on Egypt's move, and the effect that must have had on the process within Palestine, support now from the government rather than being swept aside with the Mubarak-Israeli coalition going on. Did the people's uprising in Egypt have a big effect?
A: It is hugely important. Probably this is the most important thing in all of this. Palestinians feel very encouraged and very cheered by Egyptian support because we knew that Egypt's people have never accepted Mubarak's policies of keeping the Palestinian population penned up and starving.
All the Egyptians have never accepted it. They finally appear to have a government, which also doesn't accept it, and is reflected in popular will…
Q: You wrote a book. A year and a half ago it was released. It was on the idea of a one state rather than a two state solution; Now 130 states world-wide are pushing for Palestine to become a state on the notion of a two-state solution at the end of this year. What does unity mean? Are you still in favor of a one state solution encompassing Israel and Palestine together?
A: Indeed I am. I think any sensible person looking at this conflict has to support the idea of a state for those accepting it. There are people talking about the possible UN recognition of a Palestinian state at the General Assembly in September.
It's almost equivalent to the creation of a Palestinian state. Well of course that is not so. It's very far from the fact. One has to recon first of all with Israel, and its settlements, as there are 500,000 settlers in the occupied territories in the West Bank.
There is no indication whatsoever that the Israelis are willing to move these settlers.
Q: They cannot because if they did there would be a civil war; its a half a million people that don't want to leave.
A: Absolutely and therefore one really does have to look at reality. So the idea that actually there is shortly to be a Palestinian state, and therefore what are we going to do about the talks of a unity state. That is not the situation. However, I do feel there are two ways in which one can look at this.
On the one hand the Palestinian idea and Palestinian Authority and Abbas' idea, is that we take the proposition of a Palestinian state, as if there were no settlements, and we ask the world to recognize the right of Palestinians to set up their own state.
What that can do is to create the momentum which puts pressure on the Israelis that will make it difficult for them to resist as they have done in the past. There would no longer be one to one negotiations. It would now be Israel against the international community. It's quite a clever move to create a new situation, and of course it has a lot of diplomatic implications.
If Palestine is a state, then it has a right to call on the UN for protection of its people. And it has the right to actually negotiate with the other party as a state and not just as a group. So these things are possible benefits.
At the same time we have to remember that it could be if the right people were leading this movement, that the two-state idea is actually only a stepping stage towards eventual unification between Israel and a Palestinian state.