Salim Tamari was born in Jaffa and now teaches sociology at Birzeit University, in the West Bank. He spoke with Penny Johnson, Peter Johnson and Judith Tucker in Boston in July 1981.
The Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is entering its fifteenth year. How would you characterize the development of political forces among Palestinians during these years?
In looking back it strikes me that no political force anticipated what actually transpired in the occupied territories. In general, four main transformations characterized the political movements of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The first, immediately following occupation until 1971, was the period of internal armed resistance, especially inside the Gaza district, where massive armed activity challenged the Israeli occupation. I distinguish here between internal armed resistance and incursions of a guerrilla nature from the Jordanian and Lebanese borders and, to a lesser extent, from the Syrian border. The defeat of the resistance in Jordan after the civil war of 1970-1971 scaled down the considerable armed resistance of Palestinians in the occupied territories. In the case of Gaza, the Israeli military government — under the guiding hand of General Ariel Sharon, now Israeli defense minister — crushed the resistance, both by the use of force and through the strategy of population transfers. Whole communities were relocated from the refugee camps and the city of Gaza to other areas in Rafah, the border region and the Jordan Valley.
The 1973 war was a turning point, marking the second period in the strategy of the Palestinian resistance. In the new post-war conditions, the resistance articulated a coherent political strategy for political independence, as opposed to the earlier demand for total liberation. This meant the development of concrete strategy using a two-pronged approach, political an armed struggle, to exact territorial concessions from the state of Israel under the existing balance of forces and given the world situation, such as detente in American-Soviet relations.
The quest for independence gave very significant impetus to local organizations and to the internal wings of the Palestinian resistance in the occupied territories, prompting them to formulate concrete activities and programs along non-military lines. The peak of this period was in the 1976 municipal elections, where the PLO contested Israel to create forms of political consciousness, political control and development program which corresponded to their strategy. Israel’s policy was manifested in Dayan’s program of administrative autonomy, which later found its formulation in the Camp David agreements. The PLO, on the other side, attempted to create solid loci of political power which would back the political demands of the PLO for independence and also act as barriers against compromises with an “autonomy” which would preserve the West Bank and Gaza under Israeli sovereignty.
The third period witnessed a kind of political retreat. It was triggered, as before, by the external situation, in this case primarily the Lebanese civil war. The PLO was bogged down by the war and sectarian strife in Lebanon. We saw, correspondingly, a shift to the right in the whole Arab world, especially in Egypt, Sudan and Iraq. Having lost important allies in the Arab world, and with PLO forces relatively immobilized in Lebanon, the internal forces of the resistance in the occupied territories found themselves more on their own. The Palestinian impasse made it possible for Egypt and Israel to conclude the Camp David agreement by circumventing the Palestinians. The PLO found itself incapable of forming a political alternative to Camp David.
The fourth period, if we can call it that, began with the Israeli attacks on Baghdad and Beirut in the summer of 1981. The net result, politically, has been to enhance the position of the PLO. This proved to the Israelis that the PLO cannot be crushed militarily, and established the Palestinians as an essential ingredient for any peace settlement. It is too early now to project which direction this latest phase will take, but it is clear that it has exposed the Camp David agreement for the sham that it is. The Americans are muttering about the need to curb Begin’s excesses in order to salvage this miserable pact. But they have to do much more than that. Only a commitment to scrap Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza and recognition of the PLO as an essential party to the settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict will bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table. And when this happens, I think the world will find the PLO to be forthcoming.
How did these political developments express themselves organizationally in the West Bank and Gaza? What is the relationship of political developments there with the PLO, or with Palestinian organizations inside the 1948 borders?
Keep in mind that the role of the left in the occupied territories is larger than the role of the left outside Palestine, in Lebanon and Jordan particularly. Remember, too, that although significant incidents of armed activity occurred in the occupied territories, the main form of struggle has been political, cultural and organizational. In general, the left was better able to cope with Israeli repression than the right, because the right was less able to translate its objectives into concrete activities. Almost every one of the political organizations within the occupied territories, with very few exceptions like the Muslim Brothers, constitute an extension of existing organizations within the PLO. We are talking about organizations which are represented in the Palestine National Council and the political executive of the PLO.
Inside Israel, Rakah, the Israeli Communist Party, is the main non-Zionist political organization, and also the most important movement of Palestinians inside the 1948 borders. Rakah, although it refuses to have any organizational activities within the occupied territories, enjoys a high reputation in the West Bank and Gaza, perhaps even greater than the Palestinian Communist Party, partially reflecting a section of the PCP’s troubled relations with the resistance in the 1970-1971 period.
What are the major points of difference among various Palestinian political groupings?
In general, we might say that the earlier split within the Palestinian national movement that took place after the 1973-1974 period — between those who argued for a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and those who opposed it — today has very few traces in the West Bank and Gaza. The alignment of forces within the Palestinian movement in the occupied territories no longer, as in Lebanon and Jordan, reflects itself in the dichotomy between rejectionists and supporters of the Palestinian state. Today, we have an ideological split between left and right, with mainly the Communist Party, the Democratic Front, the Popular Front and certain left forces within Fatah on one side, and the Muslim Brothers and centrist and right forces within Fatah on the other.
One area of conflict is over the use of funds appropriated for the occupied territories by Arab contributions. Another is in the form of struggle. The conservative forces tend to organize resistance along the lines of traditional institutions, such as municipal councils, professional unions, women’s organizations, notables. The left, on the other hand, tries either to build new organizations or to radicalize the rank and file of existing organizations. In general, these forces have made good use of the limited freedom of the press that exists in Jerusalem but does not prevail in the occupied territories (because Jerusalem is subject to Israeli press laws). The left today is most visible in the trade unions in Bethlehem, Nablus and Ramallah, and in student and professional organizations. The right is more powerful at the the level of municipal and village councils, and more traditional institutions.
What do you see as the major accomplishments of the Palestinian resistance in the occupied territories?
The major accomplishment is that the political organizations of the Palestinians, remarkably, were able to unify the Palestinian people against the Israeli occupation and keep its spirits high when it was forsaken by the whole Arab world and, in another sense, by the world community, which intervened only in words against the occupation.
Another accomplishment was the creation of a network of social and national (although not economic) institutions which sustained Palestinians and kept a minimum of self-integrity. This was in the face of obstacles the Israelis created against enterprises aimed at internal economic development, and in the face of the immense temptation for workers and peasants to go to work in Israel. Through this network the Palestinians were able to keep their national identity, and their national integrity, even while working in Israel.
Finally, a very significant accomplishment has been that, to date, there is not one respectable institution, not one political current, not one personality of stature in the occupied territories willing to cooperate with the Israeli occupation at any level, or indeed to accommodate even the Israeli schemes of administrative autonomy. Anything short of gaining independence has been rejected. This is not a mean achievement, given the conditions.
Could you also identify the major shortcomings?
The major weaknesses I have already hinted at. Initially, and to some extent yet today, the resistance made a cult of militarism, elevating armed struggle as a catchword. This was supposed to resolve the existing political situation by itself. Armed struggle, as opposed to organized political activity, received undue emphasis. After 1974, and especially after 1976, we witness a noticeable change in the strategy of almost all resistance organizations. They began to seriously consider political mobilization as a form of struggle and understand the severe limitations on activities within the occupied territories. But the cult remained. In order not be be misunderstood, let me put it this way. I think there is a lack of clarity about the proper relationship of armed and political activity in formulating the strategy and objective of the resistance movement.
Another weakness — this comes mainly from the right, although left organizations also fall prey to it — is a reliance on traditional individuals and groups as opposed to organizing people at the grassroots. There is an attempt to reach people who have stature in the community, respectable notables. This is the case with certain mayors in the West Bank and Gaza who are right-wing and oppose activities which would further the democratic content of life within their own organizations. There has been an undue reliance, especially by the right, on such people.
A third weakness within the national movement is the lack of any clear strategy for economic development, especially productive programs to reabsorb a section of the Palestinian workers who commute to Israel every day. Most of the funds coming from the Arab world have been used to enhance educational institutions and social service organizations. These play an important role in the education and raising of national consciousness of the people, but do very little to alleviate the economic burden of those forced to seek employment opportunities in Israel, or to migrate.
How do you assess the significance of this movement of Palestinians into jobs in Israel — and out of the agricultural sector — in terms of the class structure and politics of the West Bank and Gaza?
It is one of the most obvious features in the class map of the occupied territories that a vast section of the labor force, especially small peasants and middle peasants, has become workers in many sectors of the Israeli economy, primarily in construction and services but increasingly also in the industrial sector. From the point of view of the Israeli economy, the proportion of Palestinians from the occupied territories has been rather small, less than 10 percent. But the areas these Palestinians occupy in the Israeli economy are crucial, because increasingly the Jewish working class is unwilling to work in these areas.
Within the occupied territories, this movement into the Israeli work force initially had the paradoxical effect of halting the rate of out-migration to the Arab world and to the Americas, and also of creating a process of proletarianization. I personally think that this proletarianization has often been described in an oversimplified way. The people from the countryside who have become workers have also remained peasants. To put it simply, they have become part-time workers, part-time peasants. They seasonally take time off from their jobs and go back to work their farms.
This “internal” migration into the Israeli work force has had virtually no effect on members of the middle class and professionals, or the small sectors of the traditional working class who do not have access to employment in Israel. On these sectors, the effect has been reversed. The lack of any investment in the infrastructure or in industry pushed many members of the middle class — professionals, academics and even the lower middle class, like shopkeepers — to leave the country. On the one hand, then, we have almost no unemployment among the lower sectors of the labor force, the working class and the peasantry who sell their labor power, but on the other hand, substantial unemployment exists among the semiprofessionals and professionals, which is disguised because of migration. After 1975, when a recession hit the Israeli building trade at the same time as construction boomed in the Arab world, the demand for semi-skilled and unskilled labor in Jordan and certain Arab countries in the Gulf increased outmigration of workers.
How was agriculture affected by these shifts in the labor force?
The picture in the agricultural sector is more complex. Within the occupied territories, cultivated areas declined because of the widespread negligence of small farms and also, of course, because of the large scale confiscation of land by Israel, especially in the Jordan Valley. Estimates are that 60 percent of the cultivable land in the Jordan Valley, and a substantial portion of the water resources, has either been diverted for use by Israeli settlements or fenced off by the Israeli army.
In spite of this, agricultural productivity in the West Bank has not declined because large and middle landowners in the Jordan Valley and in certain sections of the north, especially in the Jenin, Tulkarm and Nablus areas, have introduced new agricultural technology — high-yielding varieties of seeds, hothouses, mechanization, labor-displacing machines. A number of wealthy peasants have substantially increased their income, while a certain grouping of peasants have, without losing their land, lost agriculture as their main source of income and become workers in Israel.
How have these changes affected politics in the West Bank and Gaza, and specifically the resistance to the occupation?
Some analysts conclude from the events we have outlined that there is wide-scale differentiation leading to proletarianization, that this proletarianization automatically gives rise to a new class consciousness, and that this, in turn, translates into resistance against occupation. This is not borne out by analysis of political events. The main source of resistance has been the towns, and not the countryside. A number of resistance cells were caught by the security forces in villages, but the main source of resistance has undoubtedly been the urban centers, where students, workers and shopkeepers have been the protagonists. Indeed, shopkeepers have played a major role in shaping and leading urban strikes, whereas peasant workers and migrant workers to Israel have, in general, been rather quiet in these movements.
Part of the reason is that the number of unionized workers in the occupied territories is very small. The Arab trade unions in the big cities are unable to organize peasant-workers because of their rural origin. There is also the fact of workplace dispersion. The Israeli unions, of course, have displayed no interest in improving the lot of the Arab workers. Thus, peasant consciousness remains the main force among Palestinians employed in Israel.
Organizationally, the arenas of opposition to the occupation have been the pre-1967 institutions, such as municipalities, professional and semiprofessional unions, and student organizations. It is within these circles that the main currents of the PLO have articulated themselves.
Some observers have noted that a special feature of this occupation is the absence of a comprador class, a group mediating between the occupiers and the people. Would you agree that this is the case? If so, why?
It’s not entirely true that there is no class of people who have mediated Israeli control. A significant number of merchants, labor contractors and a sector of the civil service either cooperated openly in the economic integration of the West Bank and Gaza into the Israeli economy, or indirectly became the avenue for Israeli power. However, the fierceness of the antagonism between the military government, Israeli society and Israeli polity on one hand, and Palestinian nationalism on the other, is such that these people cannot cement this economic integration into a political force, a viable bridge that would sustain Israel’s continued military rule. To date, Israel has not found one single social group in the occupied territories which can, at a political level, advocate a form of coexistence between Israel and the occupied territories under the form proposed either by the Labor Party or Likud. No cohesive community, such as the bedouins in Jordan, for instance, exists to act as a “native” pillar of occupation.
It has been claimed, of course, that Palestinian workers in Israel constitute such a class. This is true only in an abstract sense. People who are forced to work in Israel for their daily bread may resist alterations of the status quo because their source of livelihood is threatened. I don’t think we can speak of this class as constituting a social base for Israeli control, however.
It’s often been argued that Israel has created a colony in the West Bank and Gaza, and has become dependent on the Palestinian labor force there. Is this a factor in Israel’s attempt to hold on to the occupied territories?
In the final analysis, I believe this economic dependency is not a crucial aspect of long-term Israeli strategy in maintaining control of the occupied territories. It’s true that Palestinians today are located in sectors, such as construction or services, that Jewish workers refuse to occupy. It’s equally true, however, that these workers can be replaced either by Egyptian workers, or, as many Israeli economists have argued, by importing migrant laborers from Cyprus, Italy or Greece.
A more important area of dependency is the existence of a non-tariff market for Israeli commodities, probably the single most important market for Israeli exports. Israel has stifled any industrial growth in the occupied territories, and therefore prevented any competitors in industry from posing a threat to this market. Nonetheless, even in this case, it is mechanistic and oversimplified to view the economic links between Israel and the occupied territories as strategic motivations for Israel’s maintenance of control over the occupied territories.
It is more fruitful to look at Jewish nationalism and Jewish religious revivalism, both today reinforcing each other and feeding an extreme form of Zionism which regards the occupied territories as an integral part of the state of Israel. These tendencies are behind the immense investment that the state of Israel has put into its colonial settlements in the West Bank and Gaza and behind the ideological mobilization generated by these settlements. It is obvious today that it will be extremely difficult to reverse these trends if a new turn of events (either internal or external) impels Israel to make territorial concessions. These political and ideological forces, in my view, are more important than economic factors in explaining Israel’s continued control over the occupied territories.
In terms of economic development in the West Bank — and its political impact — could you describe the nature and effect of US aid?
The total US aid provided the West Bank through AID is minuscule, amounting to about $3 million per year — less than the portion of US aid that reached the West Bank under Jordanian rule. The purpose of this aid is more obscure. Possibly, within the American government, some elements, especially within the State Department, believe a certain amount of aid to Palestinians is necessary to foster a certain image of America. However, these elements must be insignificant, as the amount of aid is ridiculously small and any political good will it generates is completely disfigured by what is seen as total American backing for the state of Israel.
Indeed, the major impact of US aid on the West Bank is really the building of Israeli settlements. The financing of these settlements comes primarily through funds collected directly for that purpose, from Jewish organizations and Zionist activities in the US or indirectly through American aid to Israel, which, through a form of double bookkeeping, is channeled to the occupied territories. It’s very important to alert the American public to this point, because their government claims that, while it does not approve of Israeli settlement activity, it cannot intervene because it is an internal Israeli affair. More accurately, however, settlements are a joint US-Israeli project, funded by American money and peopled by Jewish-American immigrants, who are quite disproportionate to their numbers among immigrants to Israel proper.
What about funds from Jordan? What is their economic and political impact?
It’s important to distinguish Jordanian aid, which is very small, from funds reaching the West Bank through Jordan, which are enormous. In a series of conferences, the last being the Baghdad conference of 1978, the Arab countries have allocated millions of dollars for economic development in the occupied territories. This money is channeled through Jordan, which uses it politically to buttress pro-Jordanian forces in the West Bank. The appropriations usually go to municipal and village councils, often reaching their destination through traditional pro-Jordanian mukhtars and village elders. Professional associations, housing organizations, women’s and social societies also receive funds. Funds have been withheld quite often to penalize individuals, groups and sometimes whole cities who choose not to cooperate with Jordan in certain schemes, especially during periods when Jordan and the PLO are at odds.
Part of this dispute has been resolved for the moment by the creation of a Joint Palestinian-Jordanian Committee in charge of receiving and screening applications for aid and channeling the funds to prevent misappropriation and political use. However, this committee is overwhelmingly, or unduly, under Jordanian influence. The Jordanian state is adjacent to Israel and Israel implicitly cooperates with Jordan by approving funds to favored individuals and societies and municipal councils, and punishing those who are seen by the Israeli authorities as fomenting resistance. This tacit cooperation with Jordan may change in the wake of an Israeli order in July 1981 forbidding the transfer of funds from the Joint Palestinian-Jordanian Committee, and Israel’s own program of funding unrepresentative village councils in the West Bank in an attempt to create an alternate political leadership.
Is there an accompanying political influence of the Jordanian regime in the West Bank? Are there Palestinians who see a role for Jordan in the future of the West Bank?
I think one has to say yes. It is no use to say that the PLO has total and absolute backing from all Palestinians. Let me put it this way: We must distinguish between the political identification by Palestinians under occupation with the PLO and with the struggle for independence, which is almost universal, and the view of Jordan as a potential surrogate for a transitional authority which might take over in the event of an Israeli withdrawal. A great proportion of the civil service on the West Bank continue to receive their salaries from Jordan. A large quantity of trade, both in agricultural produce and in certain industrial commodities, such as soap, matches and olive oil, goes over the bridge either to its final destination in the Arab world or to the Jordanian market proper. An increasingly substantial section of the Palestinian labor force migrates to Jordan in search of work. All these factors make the Jordanian influence increasingly felt. If there is no dramatic political change in the occupied territories, and if the Palestinian resistance continues to be bogged down in Lebanon, Jordanian influence will increase in the occupied territories.
You note the current absence of dramatic political change in the situation of Palestinians under occupation. Is this for primarily internal or external reasons?
The relationship between internal and external forces in the Palestinian case are especially skewed in favor of internal forces reacting to external circumstances. First, the occupied territories are a small area, with a small population, and we are controlled by an extremely powerful enemy. The terrain and the social composition of the population are such that no resistance of the Vietnamese or Chinese or even Algerian form is possible. I think this is understood by the PLO, despite its rhetoric. A very large section of the Palestinian people reside outside of Palestine and interact intensely at the family, economic and political levels with Palestinians in the occupied territories. A substantial section of Palestinians are citizens of the Israeli state and have a different, although increasingly similar, fate than the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The weight of the political organizations — their vanguard and military strength — exists outside Palestine. Not many resistance groups have faced this situation, which gives the Palestinians a certain specificity. Because of this, the “external” forces, both within the Arab world and the PLO, play and will continue to play a decisive role in formulating actions and initiatives by people living inside.
What is the significance, then, of political developments like the National Guidance Committee?
Having said this, one must note a certain change in the direction of increased importance of West Bank leadership in leading the struggle of the Palestinian people. The victory of the municipal councils in 1976 was the first change. The second was the formation of the National Guidance Committee in the wake of the signing of the Camp David agreements as a focus for the coordination of an internal political consensus in the West Bank. A third factor, initiated by the Likud in 1977 and continuing to the present, is the Likud’s drive to remove physically local Palestinian leaders — by deportations, massive arrests and detention of the Palestinian intelligentsia and political figures, and by sanctioning physical attacks and assassination attempts against mayors and heads of trade and professional unions.
This gave a new stature to the targets of these attempts, especially to the National Guidance Committee, which the Israeli government declared illegal. This repression is despite the fact that the National Guidance Committee (which is in symbiotic unity with the PLO) has made it clear on several occasions that its objective is the establishment of a Palestinian state side by side with the state of Israel. The Committee formulated in its political declarations objectives which had so far only been hinted at by the Palestinian political leadership in Lebanon. This fact is extremely important: the formation of the National Guidance Committee — militant, pro-PLO and popular, and at the same time willing to make territorial compromises with the state of Israel, with the aim of peaceful coexistence between the Israeli state and a future Palestinian state — has been the subject of the most ferocious attacks by the Likud.
At the moment there is a kind of lull, a semi-paralysis, in the occupied territories, largely due to the involvement of the Palestinian resistance in Lebanon, and internally to the massive arrests of the members, sympathizers and affiliates of the National Guidance Committee. Internationally this paralysis is reinforced by the almost unconditional support given to the Likud government by the United States. Because of the peculiarity of the Palestinian situation, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are highly susceptible to political developments in the outside world, in the Arab world and within the PLO in Lebanon and Jordan. The developments within the Jordanian regime proper, the developments at the level of Egypt’s involvement with the Camp David agreements and the international balance of power between the USSR and the US all reverberate in the occupied territories.
Has the occupation — and resistance to it — affected Palestinian cultural awareness and expression?
An aspect of the occupation is the physical severing of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza from the rest of the Arab world, isolating them from literary and cultural movements in Arab countries. The result has not been altogether negative. Young artists, writers, poets, painters and dramatists rely more on themselves and less on materials from the Arab world. Before the occupation, the West Bank and Jordan, together with many places in the Arab world, depended exclusively on the great centers of cultural activity in Cairo and Beirut, and to a lesser extent, Damascus and Bahgdad.
The act of rupture has given rise to a mini-renaissance in cultural activities. Not all of its product is of high quality — in fact, a lot of mediocrity exists. But a substantial proportion is original, vigorous and promising. Also, a new encounter has taken place between Palestinians who had remained in the state of Israel and those of us who are West Bankers or Gazans. This encounter enriched us with the experience of Palestinians inside the 1948 borders who have developed very solid cultural work over the 1948-1967 period, and created some of the best poetry and literature in the Arab world today.
Has there been a rise in religious consciousness?
In the main, the cultural renaissance has been secular. However, within the predominantly secular movement, the dislocation of Palestinian society has also produced revivalist movements of an Islamic nature. These movements received their biggest impetus from the Iranian revolution, whose general impact on Palestinians has been, in my view, regressive. Rather than opening new horizons or forms of political consciousness, the Iranian revolution strengthened those movements which we call in Arabic salafiyya — a return to the past glorious age.
For example, the Iranian revolution strengthened traditional forces which tend to subordinate women to more traditional roles and to segregate the work of men and women when, after all, the Palestinian national movement has been pioneering in challenging traditional Arab society. These trends have received active political support from external sources, especially from Saudi, and possibly from Jordanian, sources who see these religious forces as the backbone of anti-radical and anti-secular tendencies within the Palestinian movement. Today, we see an expression of this new resurgence of religious forces in student factions in the universities, in vigorous calls for religious conformity in the Friday sermons from the mosque and in dress codes for women, both in the village and particularly in urban centers.
What is the attitude of people in the West Bank toward the victory of Likud in the July election? Do you feel the occupation policy differs under Labor or Likud?
A general attitude exists that Labor has a softer approach toward the occupied territories while the Likud seems more intransigent. In practice, however, the Labor strategy of negotiating with Jordan, and making certain concessions along lines similar to the Allon Plan, was very unrealistic, given the immense conflicts that any territorial compromise will generate within Israeli society between the nationalist-religious forces and the “minimalists” in the Labor party who want to keep Israel as a Jewish country.
Labor’s strategy is also faulty because Jordan at the moment is reluctant to play a role. Jordan is not interested at present in negotiating with Israel, in the Sadat fashion, for the obvious reasons that Jordan could not gain the same benefits. King Hussein would also compound his own internal problems by taking on a population that is not willing to accommodate itself to his regime.
Having said this, and recognizing that there are people in the Labor party who are as intransigent — in fact, the majority of Labor is as insistent, for different reasons, as the Likud on retaining the bulk of the territories — there is a difference between the two parties. The continued power of Likud gives new impetus to the growth of right-wing forces with the Zionist movement, to Gush Emunim and other fanatic settler movements, who are capable of almost any repression against the Palestinian population. In other words, although from the point of view of resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, at least in the short and medium run, there is no difference between Labor and Likud, the victory of Likud nonetheless makes a difference in the form of internal control in the occupied territories.
What do you see happening in the future for the Palestinian national movement in the West Bank and Gaza?
Paradoxically, because Palestinians under occupation do not anticipate a dramatic change in their destiny in the near future, they have learned to be self-reliant and have successfully developed stamina for meeting the worst possible conditions. They are at the bottom, which produces a strange kind of optimism. It’s very hard to “lose” when you have already lost. At the same time, they have sustained and nourished a resistance movement which has not been quiet for one month over the last fifteen years, despite the banishments, assassination attempts, collective punishment and massive imprisonment of young men and women during this period. In the end, we feel that the Israelis, for their own good, will have to come to terms with our demand for independence and that moment — given the impossible political and economic situation that Israel finds itself in — cannot be postponed indefinitely.