The Road Map: An Attempt to Reshape Palestinian Aspirations
Jericho, May - He is held in a Palestinian jail in Jericho, watched over by American and British guards. His predecessor was killed in August 2001. His brother met the same fate a year ago. His wife was arrested by Israeli police last January. He is Ahmad Saadat, Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Arabmonitor managed to reach him.
Q: How do you see the future of the region after the British-American invasion of Iraq?
A: Colin Powell has said that America’s objective is to protect US interests in the region; to put it plainly, to keep the area under American political, economic and military control. The military invasion of Iraq was preceded by the presentation of a political plan: which Powell referred to as “the construction of democracy in the Middle East” and complete control over the region in cooperation with Israel. We are facing the creation of a new international system since the fall of the Soviet Union. The occupation of Iraq is the first in a series of installments aimed at convincing the people and states in the region not to put up any resistance, lest they meet the same fate as the Iraqi regime. However, the battle is not yet over. Resistance remains the best option, by rejecting the occupation and trying to make life as difficult as possible for the occupying forces.
Q: What do you think of the “Road Map” (the peace plan)? How can the Palestinian National Authority ever attach such great importance to this project?
A: The Road Map seems like a reward for the Palestinian people or, if you will, the carrot that has to be given to the Arabs of Palestine in place of the stick that’s been used against the Iraqis. In reality, it must be said that the Road Map is above all an attempt to contain the Palestinians and to stop the intifada: so completing what the Israelis have done with the “stick” with America’s international backing. The Road Map tries to skirt round UN resolutions, which recognise the right of our people to have their own independent state. This plan has the aim of reshaping Palestinian aspirations, so that their state will be designed according to the needs and limits laid down by Israel. I too wonder how the PNA can be so attached to it, and I can’t give any logical explanation. Because the Road Map doesn’t offer anything new, but leads to a return to negotiations under the terms of the Oslo Accords, which led ultimately to the dead end called Camp David.
Q: There is a lot of talk about Abu Mazen’s government. Could the nomination of a Prime Minister be the answer to the Palestinians’ internal problems?
A: The nomination of Abu Mazen came about under Israeli and American pressure: as a result, it will be a very limited government. I think that this government will not only be unable to achieve our national objectives or the reforms that Palestinian public opinion wants, but will even be a tool to take away our rights and limit our democratic space. It will be an instrument that allows American and Israeli interference in internal Palestinian affairs. Democracy can’t be completed if it is not practiced by a freely-elected government in a country free from foreign occupation. Our people have to have free institutions capable of uniting our forces and strengthening their capacity to resist. This is how liberation and then democracy will come about.
Q: A few weeks ago, the Palestinians celebrated “Prisoners’ Day”. What role do the Palestinian prisoners – of which there are thousands in Israeli jails – play in Palestinian society?
A: For Palestinians, zionist prisons have always been the advance guard of the struggle. They have formed our new leaders. For this reason, the Palestinian political leadership has to listen to the prisoners, to regard their freedom as a leading objective, to take care of their families and to include them in the Palestinian leadership, because they are at the very heart of the battle.