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Interview with Al Fatah leader Salah Khalaf "Abu Iyad" :: 13/07/1973
No vengeance, says Fatah prominent leader; we just want a democratic state in Palestine
Domingo del Pino. Published in Free Palestine July 1973
Abu Iyad at a conference in the American University of Beirut in 1971. D. del Pino photo archive.
The recent Lebanese Army attacks are linked to the April 10th Israeli aggression in a single goal: the elimination of the Palestinian Resistance, al-Fatah leader Abu Iyad told Prensa Latina news agency on May 19th in Beirut.
A member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Abu Iyad said that a plan to eliminate the Palestinian movement was approved recently by an US diplomats meeting in Teheran.
Now, he stated, we have established a ceasefire and have reached a settlement with the authorities on the basis of the Cairo Protocol, but this does not mean that the conflict has ended. He went on to predict that when the situation is propitious the army will once again attack, while later the same can be expected from Israel, since both, under US auspices, aim for the annihilation of the fedayeen.
Take note, added Abu Iyad, that the resistance obtained a great deal of experience from the events here and in Jordan with the support of the Lebanese progressive forces which took up arms alongside us.
Together we will destroy the Zionist-US plans for liquidating the Palestinian revolution. Here there won’t be any repeat of what happened in Amman in September 1970, not only because of the army’s incapacity, but thanks to the cohesion in the Palestinian ranks, the political consciousness attained in the recent times and links forged between the Lebanese masses and our people, he asserted.
A former teacher who left his profession eight years ago to found Al Fatah, together with Yasser Arafat, Abu Iyad gives the listener the impression of explaining a lesson when he speaks.
Nothing about him brings to mind the guerrilla leader so greatly
feared by the Isreali state and its intelligence services, that on severa! occasions have linked his name with that of Black September. I asked Abou Iyad what are his connections with that porganisation.
Black September actions depart from our concept of a long people’s struggle against the enemy, stated Abu Iyad, but you must take into account the profound causes that have led some young Palestinians to undertake certain operations. I have nothing to do with that organisation, nor do I know its members. But even though I am a leader in the face of spectacles like the Jordan massacres, I can’t keep young people from coming to the fore with their own methods, which, I repeat, are outside the line adopted by the Resistance, asserted al-Fatah’s second-in-command.
Born in Jaffa about forty years ago, a refugee in Gaza in 1948, Abu Iyad knows his people’s drama through personal experience of the painful exodus of a quarter of a century ago when the state of Israel was created.
However, his words reflect neither bitterness, nor hate, simply the political analysis, of the history of his country which brings him to fight.
In answer to a question he confirmed: What we will attempt in Israel after the killing of our comrades here in Beirut on April 10th is not vengeance. Our reply will be to go forward with the struggle right inside Israel until we obtain our aim of setting up a democratic state in Palestine where all those opposing Zionism will be able to live in freedom.
The Israel¡ aggression of April 10th, reiterated Abu Iyad, was part of the plans of US imperialism to hit the Palestinian revolution. And we must confront it as such. The Lebanese events must be seen in the same context. This is why we believe that the settlement we just reached is a temporary ceasefire in the course of which a political campaign will be waged against the presence of the fedayeen in Lebanon and in regard to the issue of the heavy arms of the resistance.
Abu Iyad points out that the PLO has a great advantage in the fact that recent events have brought it several victories in the political sphere. These are, in his opinion, the unity obtained by the resistance as a consequence of the crisis; the union of the resistance with the nationalist and progressive forces; and pressure by the Arab masses in favour of the Palestinian revolution.
Abu Iyad also spoke of the solidarity of the progressive countries during the conflict and cited among the Arabs the cases of the Yemen Democratic People’s Republic, Algeria, Iraq and Syria.
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