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Interview with Khalil Shikaki pt 2
Interview with Khalil Shikaki, political science professor, expert In Palestinian opinions. Re: Events around the Oslo Agreement, Infatada and suicide bombs., INTERVIEWER:,You talked, basically, about support for violence, but is there a distinction? I know that sometimes cease fires make these distinctions between violence, and directly against civilians, ____ and soldiers (Inaudible). ,00:01:44>>>, KHALIL SHIKAKI:,The Palestinian public has always distinguished between violence in their soldiers, versus violence against civilians inside Israel. In general, the surveys indicate that the Palestinians do not distinguish between settlers in the West Bank and Gaza, and Israeli soldiers. ,For most Palestinians there are no, sort of civilian settlers, as such. For most Palestinians, what they see of settlers is armed settlers who shoot at Palestinians, or take away their land, or prevent them from harvesting their land, or particularly during the, for example, the olive trees harvest this year. And therefore, the distinction between settlers and soldiers, in fact, does not exist. Support for violence, and soldiers and settlers, reached almost 90%. It is the support for civilians, attack from civilians inside Israel, that has been the one that's seeing some shifts. There, as I said, support for attacks on settlers - it is the support for violence against Israeli civilians inside Israel, that has seen the change in the way the public perceives them. ,Today, only 50%, or slightly over 50% of the public supports violence against settlers - against civilians inside Israel. [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS] Today, a little over 50% of the Palestinian public supports violence against Israeli civilians inside Israel. Compare this to the level of support for attacks or violence against soldiers and settlers, you can see, certainly, a great deal of difference with 90% supporting attacks on soldiers and settlers, versus 50 - a little bit over 50% supporting attacks on the civilians inside Israel. But, when you compare this to where we were, say in 1995, 96, you can clearly see that support for violence against Israelis did not exceed 20%. And that is to say, the level of support for violence is pretty much sensitive to Palestinian perception of the role of negotiations, of the changes on the ground with regard to the future of the peace process, the ability of the Palestinians to begin to see the end of occupation, and to begin to see the development of their own state. , INTERVIEWER:,(Inaudible) ,00:04:51>>>, KHALIL SHIKAKI:,There is no doubt that the majority of the Palestinians believe that the ultimate solution to their conflict in Israel, is a two-state solution. You will not find many Palestinians, today, who believe that Israel can be defeated, or who believe that the solution is to throw the Israelis out into the sea. A very small minority of the Palestinians would believe, in that three quarters of the Palestinians strongly support reconciliation between the people of Israel and the Palestinian people, within the context of a two-state solution. What the majority of the Palestinians, that is the three-quarters I'm talking about, is telling us, is that what they want is independence within their own state, a state that will live in peace with Israel as a neighbor. This, I believe, is the most - single most important development to come out from the peace process. This is the reflection of the success - the initial success of the peace process in transforming the psychological environment of the Palestinians. To come around, accept existence of the State of Israel, to accept reconciliation within the context of a two-state solution. , INTERVIEWER:,Why do you think, knowing the climate of the grassroots as you do, why do you think that Camp David, 2000, why did it fail so bad? ,00:06:21>>>, KHALIL SHIKAKI:,I personally do not believe that Camp David has failed. I believe that Camp David has been the single, most successful, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations we have ever had. It was a lot mo
Interview with Khalil Shikaki, political science professor, expert In Palestinian opinions. Re: Events around the Oslo Agreement, Infatada and suicide bombs., INTERVIEWER:,You talked, basically, about support for violence, but is there a distinction? I know that sometimes cease fires make these distinctions between violence, and directly against civilians, ____ and soldiers (Inaudible). ,00:01:44>>>, KHALIL SHIKAKI:,The Palestinian public has always distinguished between violence in their soldiers, versus violence against civilians inside Israel. In general, the surveys indicate that the Palestinians do not distinguish between settlers in the West Bank and Gaza, and Israeli soldiers. ,For most Palestinians there are no, sort of civilian settlers, as such. For most Palestinians, what they see of settlers is armed settlers who shoot at Palestinians, or take away their land, or prevent them from harvesting their land, or particularly during the, for example, the olive trees harvest this year. And therefore, the distinction between settlers and soldiers, in fact, does not exist. Support for violence, and soldiers and settlers, reached almost 90%. It is the support for civilians, attack from civilians inside Israel, that has been the one that's seeing some shifts. There, as I said, support for attacks on settlers - it is the support for violence against Israeli civilians inside Israel, that has seen the change in the way the public perceives them. ,Today, only 50%, or slightly over 50% of the public supports violence against settlers - against civilians inside Israel. [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS] Today, a little over 50% of the Palestinian public supports violence against Israeli civilians inside Israel. Compare this to the level of support for attacks or violence against soldiers and settlers, you can see, certainly, a great deal of difference with 90% supporting attacks on soldiers and settlers, versus 50 - a little bit over 50% supporting attacks on the civilians inside Israel. But, when you compare this to where we were, say in 1995, 96, you can clearly see that support for violence against Israelis did not exceed 20%. And that is to say, the level of support for violence is pretty much sensitive to Palestinian perception of the role of negotiations, of the changes on the ground with regard to the future of the peace process, the ability of the Palestinians to begin to see the end of occupation, and to begin to see the development of their own state. , INTERVIEWER:,(Inaudible) ,00:04:51>>>, KHALIL SHIKAKI:,There is no doubt that the majority of the Palestinians believe that the ultimate solution to their conflict in Israel, is a two-state solution. You will not find many Palestinians, today, who believe that Israel can be defeated, or who believe that the solution is to throw the Israelis out into the sea. A very small minority of the Palestinians would believe, in that three quarters of the Palestinians strongly support reconciliation between the people of Israel and the Palestinian people, within the context of a two-state solution. What the majority of the Palestinians, that is the three-quarters I'm talking about, is telling us, is that what they want is independence within their own state, a state that will live in peace with Israel as a neighbor. This, I believe, is the most - single most important development to come out from the peace process. This is the reflection of the success - the initial success of the peace process in transforming the psychological environment of the Palestinians. To come around, accept existence of the State of Israel, to accept reconciliation within the context of a two-state solution. , INTERVIEWER:,Why do you think, knowing the climate of the grassroots as you do, why do you think that Camp David, 2000, why did it fail so bad? ,00:06:21>>>, KHALIL SHIKAKI:,I personally do not believe that Camp David has failed. I believe that Camp David has been the single, most successful, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations we have ever had. It was a lot more successful than Oslo in its ability to deal with the hard and most difficult issues dividing Palestinian and Israelis. It failed to reach closure. But the level of progress, that was made at Camp David, within three weeks, or less than three weeks, with tremendous success in discussing idea - in discussing issues and putting on the table solutions that were unthinkable, before going to Camp David. For many reasons, many had to do with the agenda of both Clinton and Barak, who were for Clinton to end his administration, and for Barak, the loss of the majority in the Israeli Knesset. ,There was a desire to portray Camp David as a failure, from the Palestinian side, to accept a most generous offer made by the Israelis. But the reality is the Palestinians never rejected an offer that was made by the Israelis. Ideas were put at the table. Some were acceptable, some were not acceptable. The Palestinian willingness to engage in the discussion that involved compromise, who, I believe - who are sincere - the Palestinian public was not exposed to this dimension of Camp David; the give and take that took place at Camp David. The breaking of the taboos of Camp David, with regard to many of the issues that were discussed. The Palestinian public was not aware of the extent to which there was progress in addressing many of the difficult issues. It wasn't because the Palestinians didn't want to expose all of these achievements, but it was more the desire, or the hidden desire of all three actors for their own different reasons; to perhaps not dwell too much on this, and to focus instead on the failure part of it. I believe that, because of that success, the ability of the two sides to make even more progress at Taba negotiations, a few months later, was possible. And I believe that it could have been pretty much a done deal, had the parties had a much longer period to negotiate. In other words, I believe Camp David ushered in a process of negotiations. ,The mistake that is made by the Clinton Administration, and the Barak administration, I believe, was to view it as a one shot deal; make it or - you know, either for the Palestinians to take it or reject it. And when they framed it this way, I believe it was very difficult for the Palestinians to accept it. The Palestinians wanted the progress at Camp David to be recorded, to be seen as elements for further negotiations. And I believe had the parties, which is I believe the most natural way to do negotiations. You do not go to the table and say, if we do not succeed in half an hour we failed. The parties went to Camp David with the desire to reach an agreement. They made a lot of progress, but they failed to reach closure. This, I believe, would have been a much better way to view Camp David. Had that been the case, had the Israelis and the Palestinians been told that this was indeed what would - what had happened at Camp David, I believe this would have had a completely different impact on the Israeli and the Palestinian public. [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS] , INTERVIEWER:,If that's the case then why did the Intifada break out? ,00:10:46>>>, KHALIL SHIKAKI:,Well, the Intifada broke out because the Palestinian public believed that Camp David was a failure. That when you put the leaders of the superpower with the two parties, and they fail to reach an agreement, and everybody says they failed, that this means negotiations have failed, and the Palestinians would have either to accept, to be put in the corner, and to live under occupation for an indefinite period of time, or that the Palestinians would have to look for something else - other means to end occupation. ,Here, we begin to see the Palestinians seeing the example of what happened in South Lebanon, when the Israeli Army pulled out of Lebanon, under the pressure of violence. The Palestinians, who supported negotiations, wholeheartedly, up until that point, saw the failure of Camp David as an indication that they need to change tactic. It was not, I believe, a fundamental reassessment of their position, visa vie Israel, but rather a rethinking of the role of violence versus negotiations. Violence, at this point, became more attractive to Palestinians. , INTERVIEWER:,What aspect of the current movement (Inaudible) - what aspect that we see in the ____ movement, is most at odds, do you think with the real feelings of the Palestinian people, as you know them? What policy or positions taken publicly by the _____ Brigade, or the (Inaudible) movements, the movement today of the Palestinians that is most misrepresented? ,00:12:40>>>, KHALIL SHIKAKI:,There is no doubt that the Palestinian public is divided, almost right in the middle, with regard to suicide attacks. So this is the most controversial issue in Palestinian politics and society, today. The continuation of suicide attacks is a matter for a great deal of public debate. And there is a desire on the part of the majority of the Palestinians, to give negotiations a chance, within a context, in which Israel would - Israel, too, would come along and accept a mutual cessation of violence. I believe continuation of suicide attacks, or any type of violence, by Al-Aksa Brigades, or any other organizations, Islamists or otherwise, would indeed be rejected by the majority of the Palestinian public. ,Today, this is not the case. Today, most Palestinians do not believe that Israel is willing to accept a mutual cessation of violence. Therefore, the only remaining issue, in terms of, in terms of the debate within the Palestinian society, is simply whether suicide attacks are appropriate as means of fighting occupation or not. Here we see clearly, that the Palestinian public is divided on the issue. [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS] , INTERVIEWER:,If there's an invasion of Iraq, of the Iraq war, how will that change the landscape? ,00:14:44>>>, KHALIL SHIKAKI:,In the case of an invasion, of war in Iraq, I believe that the Palestinian public will become a lot more radicalized than it is now. I believe that the war in Iraq could also have a radicalizing impact on the Israeli leaders. The Israeli leaders view the war on Iraq as a vindication, as a continuation on the war on terror, and as a support for their own policies. I believe they would become a lot more hardlined. They would be less willing, then, to support a process that could lead to genuine and viable Palestinian statehood. ,So, a war on Iraq, I believe could have a negative impact on both sides, radicalizing the already right-wing governments in Israel. And, at the same time, radicalizing the Palestinian public, who are seeing the level of death and destruction in Iraq, and seeing how this might radicalize the rest of the Arab world. I believe, therefore, that in terms of the future of the peace process, a war in Iraq is certainly a Lose-Lose situation. , INTERVIEWER:,Finally, your own personal experience, you have exposed the leadership of the Palestinians, Yasser Arafat, as well as the opposition to the light of critical scrutiny. How has - what kind of experience has that been, what kind of friction has that caused? ,00:16:20>>>, KHALIL SHIKAKI:,It's very difficult for both The Palestinian National Movement and Mr. Arafat, to accept criticism, as it is very difficult for Hamas and other groups to be told that their popularity is not as high as they think. That the support for their violence is not as high as they think. It's - during the past two years I've discovered that data and analysis that I have provided have been used selectively. Sometimes by Mr. Arafat, sometimes by the Islamists, to further their own interests. They have been critical of the work I have done, when I criticize them or painted them in a negative way. And when it did the opposite, they were very quick to support it, and to quote it. ,In general, however, I would say that my work has never come under a direct assault by anybody. Nobody has threatened my life, as a result of the work that I have done. I have been threatened by [SIC] other ways, but not directly a threat to my life. , INTERVIEWER:,So it's been easy, it's not been easy? ,00:17:43>>>, KHALIL SHIKAKI:,It hasn't been easy. It certainly has not been easy. But I would say that it has been a challenge, to be able to stand up to a lot of pressure, from both those in opposition to Mr. Arafat, and from Mr. Arafat, himself. But it has been tolerable. I have been able to continue to do my work during the past ten years, despite the criticism, despite the threats, and despite the pressure. [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS] ,00:18:37>>>,One of the reasons for the eruption of the second Intifada, has been the criticism, by the Palestinian public, of the Palestinian Authority itself. The failure of the Palestinian Authority to deliver good governments. The majority of the Palestinians do not appreciate the kind of political system that the Palestinian Authority has created. And the positive rating of the Palestinian democracy, today, does not exceed 20%. More than 85% of the Palestinian public believes there is corruption in the Palestinian Authority. The public, therefore, fully supports the cause for reform that has come out from within the Palestinian society, from the legislative council, from within Fatah council, and other institutions, Palestinian institutions. More than 90% of the Palestinians support this reform measures. ,Based on the surveys, we see that the public supports five different types of reform: leadership reform, we see a majority, more than 70% supporting the appointment or election of a Prime Minister, constitutional reform, where the majority of the Palestinians fully support the independence of the judiciary, the independence and effectiveness of the legislature, institutional reform, strengthening the role of the judiciary, reform of the security services. Most Palestinians fully support elections and holding the elections as soon as possible. All these reform issues are on the mind of - on the minds of the Palestinians. We have seen, after the April reoccupation of the Palestinian cities, a tremendous rise in the level of support for this kind of reform that we haven't seen before. Up until that point, more Palestinians organized their hierarchy, or priorities, in such a way that ending occupation was priority number one. After last April, 2002, the majority of the Palestinians began to reach the conclusion that reforming the Palestinian Authority, is an essential component of ending occupation. That a reformed authority is a more capable one of ending occupation. The Palestinians began to see the deficiencies, the clear deficiencies, [[CLEARS THROAT] - ,The Palestinians began to see the deficiencies within the Palestinian Authority; the weak institutions that immediately collapsed under the pressure of the reoccupation, the security services that vanished within twenty-four hours after the reoccupation. All of this created a momentum, in terms of support, for reform. However, when the Bush Administration came in, came into the picture, framing the demand for reform, in terms of the regime change, this, I believe had the exact contradictory. In fact, on the demand for reform, with more Palestinians beginning to fear that the demand for regime change is not a demand for reform, that this had more to do with the desire to force the Palestinians to accept a deal that Israel would be willing to accept, but that the majority of the Palestinians would reject. Regime change, and the call for regime change, I believe, had a very negative impact on the process - on the genuine process of reform among Palestinians. [OFF CAMERA COMMENTS] ,END OF INTERVIEW
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