PA minister: Intifada planned since July

IN ISRAEL / Door: WEBMASTER / 4 mrt 2001 FATACH HAMAS PA

The Jerusalem Post

By Lamia Lahoud

JERUSALEM (March 4) – Palestinian Authority Communications Minister Imad Faluji told a PLO rally in the Ein Hilwe refugee camp in South Lebanon on Friday that the five-month-old intifada was not a spontaneous reaction to the September visit of Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount, but was planned after peace talks failed in July.

"It [the uprising] had been planned since [PA] Chairman [Yasser] Arafat’s return from Camp David, when he turned the tables on the former US president and rejected the American conditions," Falouji said.

Palestinian Authority officials were angered by Faluji’s statements. One said Faluji was giving his own interpretation of events. Another PA source said the minister is closer to Hamas than the PLO, and does not represent the PA’s view of events.

Falouji also said the PLO is reviving its "military action" groups to escalate the fighting against Israel. Faluji told a cheering crowd of nearly 2,500, among them local Palestinian leaders, that "the PLO is going back to the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. The Fatah Hawks, the Kassam Brigades, the Red Eagle, and all the military action groups are returning to work."

A PA source said the response to Sharon’s visit to the site symbolized the Palestinians’ frustration over Israel’s reluctance to completely cede sovereignty over the Mount.

Another PA source did not deny that a limited uprising had been planned once it became clear that Sharon would visit the site. Its aim was to bring the issue of Jerusalem to world and Arab attention, especially ahead of October’s Arab summit at which Arafat sought Arab support for his positions.

Senior Fatah leaders said at the time that following Sharon’s visit and the ensuing violence the Jerusalem issue moved from the negotiating table to the Palestinian street.

But, Palestinian officials said, the violence quickly got out of hand and lasted much longer than expected.

Palestinian security officials had warned Israeli negotiators against the visit, predicting that it might trigger an uncontrollable cycle of violence.

At Camp David, then-US president Clinton pressed Arafat to make concessions in response to Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s willingness to surrender some Jerusalem neighborhoods. The negotiations broke down mostly over the issue of sovereignty over the Temple Mount, holy to both Moslems and Jews.

In its report to the Mitchell commission of inquiry, the PA stated that that the uprising was the result of the Palestinians’ frustration with the failure of the Camp David summit and Israel’s reluctance to implement UN resolutions. The Sharon visit, the report said, was only the trigger that set off the intifada.