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"Ahmad Qurei" - Abu 'Alaa: A Brief Political Profile of the Nominated Palestinian Prime Minister

Continued...

In August 2000, Abu 'Alaa claimed that accepting the Israeli compromise proposal at Camp David - according to which there would be Palestinian sovereignty above Al-Haram Al-Sharif and Israeli sovereignty below it - was a betrayal of the faith: "[At Camp David], the Israelis offered Palestinian sovereignty over the ground and Israeli sovereignty underneath the ground. Who would agree to this? They also offered Palestinian sovereignty, and Israeli super-sovereignty.

There is no precedent for such a thing. They also offered Palestinian control under Israeli sovereignty, in a sort of diplomatic representation, similar to the status of a Palestinian embassy on Israeli land. Whoever agrees to such offers betrays the faith. They spoke of dividing the city into quarters: the Christian Quarter, the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, and the Armenian Quarter. The city has never been divided into quarters as they proposed.

If one Israeli soldier stands at one of the gates to the Old City, talk of Palestinian sovereignty is emptied of all substance."

In July 2000, Abu 'Alaa told the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam: "Jerusalem is presently in danger. A smell of scheming [aimed at] imposing new facts in the city emanates from the American and Israeli proposals, and therefore it is necessary to support the Palestinian positions by means of a [united] Islamic decision [by the Islamic states]." On the Refugee Issue and the Right of Return Abu 'Alaa's position on the refugee issue is that the Palestinian refugees must return to their homes, and that "the principle of the right of return is sacred, and the issue of the refugees is on the same level as the issue of the Al-Aqsa Mosque."

"The Oslo accords have succeeded in returning more than 150,000 Palestinians to their homeland," he said. "This is part of our great ambition, to return all of the Palestinian refugees, our people, to their Palestinian towns and villages and to obtain for them compensation for the losses and the suffering that was inflicted upon them since 1948."

As early as 1996, Abu 'Alaa asserted that in addition to the right of return, the refugees must receive compensation: "The right of return does not cancel the right to compensation, and the right to compensation does not cancel the right of return, and does not constitute a substitute for it, since this is compensation to the Palestinian refugees for the expulsion from their homeland, the destruction of their political, social, and economic framework, the halt to the course of their lives, and the exploitation of their lands and homes, over the last five decades."

As a member of the Palestinian negotiating team, Abu 'Alaa also demanded that Israel must first recognize the principle of the Palestinians right to return to their homes, and only then could ways of implementation be discussed: "The Israelis must recognize their political, legal, and moral responsibility for the tragedy of the refugees, and they must recognize the refugees' right of return. After Israel recognizes Resolution 194, there will be a need to discuss the mechanism and plans for [implementing] the return, and then the refugees right to receive compensation..."

Source: MEMRI

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