In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Amin Maqboul, secretary-general of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, blasted the US position on Israel’s war on Gaza. According to Maqboul, “The US position is shameful. They are giving a green light to Israel to attack our people under the guise that Israel has a right to self-defense.”
Maqboul stressed that Palestinians are united against the Israeli assault on Gaza, dismissing talk that the war will result in the collapse of the unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas. Said Maqboul, “We have now gotten past the differences and are all united against the Israeli aggression on our land and are in total support and solidarity with our people.” He further stated, “We all know that the main Israeli goal has been to break up the national unity reconciliation. We will respond by strengthening our unity and reconciliation.”
According to Maqboul, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah might visit Gaza in the coming days, pending logistical arrangements, either via the Rafah crossing from Egypt or the Erez crossing from Israel.
The senior Fatah leader also revealed that President Mahmoud Abbas had told the Palestinian leadership in a July 9 closed-door meeting that he is ready to end security coordination with Israel if the leadership requested. Maqboul stated, “President Abbas told the leaders, which included members of the PLO Executive Committee and senior leaders of factions, the following: ‘If you agree to cancel the security coordination with Israel, I will support it.’ He was then silent. No one spoke up after that, which is a clear indication that they were not in favor of ending security coordination at the moment.”
The Palestinians are also taking steps to join the International Criminal Court, Mabqoul said, without going into details.
The full interview follows.
Al-Monitor: How is Fatah able to reconcile its position with that of the general public, which is unhappy with the moderate position of President Mahmoud Abbas and his support for security coordination with Israel?
Maqboul: Every case has its particulars, and we are now past the differences and are all united against the Israeli aggression on our land and are in total support and solidarity with our people.
Al-Monitor: Should President Abbas not personally go to Gaza to show that this support is genuine and not just lip service?
Maqboul: This issue was discussed in the leadership meeting yesterday (July 9) at the Muqata. It was suggested that either the president or the prime minister go to Gaza.
Al-Monitor: Who do you expect will go and when?
Maqboul: I expect that Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, along with a number of ministers and leadership officials, will go to Gaza in the next few days as soon as technical and logistical details are arranged. I expect that they will go by way of Egypt or Erez, whichever can be organized earlier.
Al-Monitor: Are you comfortable with the level of internal Palestinian coordination between Fatah and Hamas?
Maqboul: Certainly the situation is different now. There is no back-and-forth bickering. We are all united now to stop the aggression on our people. Gaza and the West Bank and Jerusalem are the locations where our independent Palestinian state will be.
Al-Monitor: Will the reconciliation agreement withstand the current Israeli assault on it?
Maqboul: We all know that the main Israeli goal has been to break up the national unity reconciliation. We will respond by strengthening our unity and reconciliation. Any aggression against our people, whether in Hebron or Shuafat or now in Gaza, is an aggression against the Palestinian state and the unity of our people through the reconciliation agreement.
Al-Monitor: The security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel has been under severe public attack. How long do you expect this coordination to continue while Israel is attacking Palestinians in the way they are now?
Maqboul: This issue was also discussed in great detail by the president at yesterday’s meeting. President Abbas explained the commitments we have made in the Oslo Accords and the obligations that we have taken upon ourselves. At the end of the conversation on this sensitive issue, President Abbas told the leaders, which included members of the PLO Executive Committee and senior leaders of factions, the following: "If you agree to cancel the security coordination with Israel, I will support it." He was then silent. No one spoke up after that, which is a clear indication that they were not in favor of ending security coordination at the moment.
Al-Monitor: The silence might also mean that some leaders are considering it.
Maqboul: Absolutely, and this is a very important issue that must be decided after much thinking and planning, and it does need time before we can make a decision one way or the other.
Al-Monitor: What is your perspective on the American and international reaction to the war on Gaza?
Maqboul: The US position is shameful. They are giving a green light to Israel to attack our people under the guise that Israel has a right to self-defense. It is disgraceful that the US has equated the occupier with the occupied. You can’t compare these amateur rockets with F-16 fighters. Israel feels no US or international pressure to stop its aggression.
Al-Monitor: What about the efforts of the State of Palestine joining the International Criminal Court?
Maqboul: This was also discussed in the leadership meeting, and we were told that logistical steps with Switzerland have been initiated that will eventually lead to this issue. I am not sure I understand all the complexities and technicalities, but we have been assured that we are moving in this direction as well.
Al-Monitor: Will Fatah’s Seventh General Assembly take place on the scheduled date of Aug. 4?
Maqboul: As of this moment, we are working hard to make sure that the General Assembly meets on the scheduled date, which is legally binding. The only reason that we would postpone the meeting is if it is impossible to hold it for security or logistical reasons. We are also insisting this time that Fatah cadres from Gaza attend the assembly, unlike last time, when we met in Bethlehem for the Sixth Congress.
Al-Monitor: At that time, it was Hamas who prevented your members from coming. Who will prevent them now?
Maqboul: Yes, but this time it might be Israel, although we are open for them to come either by way of Erez or Egypt so long as they attend the congress.