Kamel Hawwash, a British Palestinian academic, says the US Administration has failed to understand that Palestinians have sacrificed their lives for over 70 years and left them no choice but to reject the US peace offer, regardless of financial offers Trump may have in his “deal of the century”.
“The Palestinian people and leadership reject Trump’s actions and have confirmed they will reject his deal when published”, he added.
Speaking with FNA in an exclusive interview, Professor Hawwash said Palestinians are still hopeful and they adhere to their right to return to their hometowns in the occupied lands, as it was displayed by the Great March Return conducted by Palestinians in Gaza.
Professor Kamel Hawwash is a British Palestinian engineering academic based at the University of Birmingham, the UK. He is a commentator on Middle East affairs, Vice Chair of the British Palestinian Policy Council (BPPC) and a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).
Below is the full text of the interview:
Q: Violence from day one: starting off with war, and displacing hundreds of thousands Palestinians, and destroying hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages; It sounds Israel was born out of violence, don't you think so?
A: The decision by the Zionist movement to create a homeland for Jews on another people’s land led to the creation of Israel in Palestine and against the will of the indigenous Muslim, Christian and Jewish Palestinians. Palestine was not an empty land. If proof was needed then just consider that in 1948, 750,000 Palestinian people were driven out of their homes into neighboring countries through Zionist terror, which included the massacres of Qibya and Dir Yassin and the killing of thousands of Palestinians. Over 400 villages were destroyed. The United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 194 which called for those Palestinians wanting to peacefully return to their hometowns be allowed to do so. Israel, to this day, has refused to put the UN resolution into practice. Instead, it allows Jews from any parts of the world with no connection to the land to ‘return’ under one of over 60 laws that discriminate against its non-Jewish population. The Great Return March which started on land day last year (30 March), saw tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees in Gaza march to the fence with Israel to implement their right to return, but they have been met with lethal force killing 300, mostly civilians.
Q: Arab governments and the Arab League claim to have control over every single issue in the Arab world. Why did they fail to save Palestine?
A: Arab countries have been supportive of the Palestinian people in their quest to realize their inalienable rights. They include their right to self-determination and the return of the Palestinian refugees. Successive Arab League summits have reaffirmed this right. Until the signing of the Oslo Accords, Arab countries enforced a boycott on Israel until it ends its belligerence and leaves illegally occupied Arab land. However, this boycott ended in the hope that Israel would change course after Oslo. This has clearly not happened. Not only is it in occupation of Palestinian land, it has annexed East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan. In 2002 the Arab League issued the Arab Peace Initiative, which promised complete normalization of relations between the Arab and Muslim world with Israel if it chose peace and ended its occupation of Arab land. However, Israel rejected the Initiative and continued to entrench its occupation and increased its settlement building. In recent months and under pressure from the Trump Administration, a number of Arab states have been normalizing relations with Israel. They have also pressured the Palestinians to accept the ‘deal of the century’ when it comes, which based on the leaks the Palestinians cannot possibly accept.
Q) How do you view the future? How do you see the “right to return”?
A: There is no doubt that despite what appears to be a bleak situation, the Palestinian people will not surrender and sign away their rights, and primary amongst them is the Right of Return. The 5 million Palestinian refugees living in exile want to return home to live in peace with all who inhabit historic Palestine in accordance with international law. However, they face not only an intransigent, oppressive and expansionist Israel but also a completely biased American Administration that has been handing Israel win after win with no concessions. All the pressure is on the Palestinians to sign a surrender agreement. Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the US Embassy to the Holy city, and to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the illegally occupied Golan Heights are primary examples of the wins handed to Israel. The Administration’s attempt to end the refugee issue has thus far not succeeded despite the defunding to UNRWA. The Palestinian people and leadership reject Trump’s actions and have confirmed they will reject his deal when published. What Trump’s team fails to understand is that having sacrificed so much over 71 years, the Palestinians are in no mood for surrender no matter how generous the financial incentives offered to them to do so. Trump will fail and the Palestinians will prevail no matter how long this takes.