Mahmoud Abbas: "Don't we know who really created the ISIS?”
Maria Giachnaki conducted an exclusive interview with the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, at his headquarters in Ramallah of PALESTINE.
Mr Abbas spoke about the drama of the Palestinian people, about Isis, about refugees showing America as culpable for all the suffering.
M.G. What are the reasons the Israeli government does not respect all the agreements that have been made, and as you always say, there can be no progress in talks when only unilateral efforts are made?
Mahmoud Abbas: "Unfortunately what you are saying is true, and the Israeli government refuses to comply with all agreements and move towards peace for the following reasons:
- About 15 years ago, the Israeli Government started violating the Status Quo at Al -Aqsa mosque and the violations have intensified during the recent months. This rose up the resistance of the Palestinian youth, the Status Quo that has been implemented since 1875, and both the Greek Government and the Greek Patriarchate are aware of this scheme.
- The second reason are the many and vicious attacks carried out by settlers against the Palestinian people and against the towns and villages, not to mention the frustration of the Palestinian people and especially of the youth who have started realizing that solution between the two-states does not come due to the continuation of the occupation and due to the settlements."
M.G But there were several episodes, as usual, and as a result the cycle of violence and blood never ends. New riots made tempers flare again...
Mahmoud Abbas: "These are the reasons which led the Palestinian youth to uprisings in the form of peaceful demonstrations on an almost daily basis. The uprisings were faced with live bullets against youth and children and as a result we have had 115 dead children so far, and of course the reaction of the Palestinians, which we do not welcome. We had the use of knives and cars, but the Israelis must know the exact reason behind these attacks.
They have signed 20 agreements since Oslo and these agreements contain clear obligations of the Israeli government, but the Israeli government has abused and dismissed them all.
We called and continue to call for a return to the negotiating table, provided that Israel halts the creation and expansion of illegal settlements, temporarily, during the negotiations, as well as the release of 30 prisoners as agreed before Oslo, whom Israel hasn't released so far.
These are the two basic conditions for our return to the negotiating table, and they are self-evident preconditions for our return to the negotiating table."
M.G. However all solemnly declare that settlements are illegal but in practice neither Europe nor America have helped you; they have left you in limbo.
Mahmoud Abbas: "The whole world and especially the European Union declare that the settlements are illegal. We ask for the settlements to freeze in order to be able to negotiate on borders. And when we ask for the release of prisoners, it is because it has been agreed. For the reasons mentioned above, Israel has no right to talk about conditions for a return to the negotiating table.
The United States have made great efforts in order to converge the different points of view but failed and the proof came when Mr Kerry last visited us and did not show anything concerning the peace process but claimed that the United States in this last year of the government of Obama will not be able to offer anything... This means that a very dangerous gap is created."
M.G: Do you think that your political conflict is turning to a religious one? And how can this be related to terrorism?
Mahmoud Abbas: "With the Israeli transgressions to the Islamic holy sites, the political conflict turns into a religious one, and that's why we tell the world that the Palestinian problem should be solved first, if we really want to fight terrorism. We should begin with peace in the area and this will be the first step in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East, in Europe and in the whole world. Maintaining the situation as it stands, is too dangerous. Right now, protests are at breaking point and I cannot foresee how the situation will evolve.
Therefore, we invite the whole world and we know that Europe and Greece recognize that the settlements are illegal. All products made in these settlements should have a specific label. Europe's attitude towards this matter is very good, but we want from Europe a clear political stance to resolve the Palestinian problem."
M.G.: But has your request been supported by States and International Organizations?
Mahmoud Abbas: "The quartet consisting of the United Nations, Russia, the United States and Europe is not enough... We do not say we do not want them, but they should be strengthened by other European countries, which will give new impetus to negotiations. Now we work with France, that promotes this proposal, and we hope to succeed. There are obstacles placed by some countries, we will do our best, but we do not know if it succeeds or not."
M.G.: Do the new Palestinian generations maintain their hope for the future since for several years there is almost no progress in negotiations?
Mahmoud Abbas: "Of course, we want to keep hope that came from the Oslo agreement, which made the youth believe that we will actually get to an independent Palestinian state and to the agreement of the two states. But the Israeli practices brought youth to the point of exasperation; especially the Israeli practices concerning settlements and blockades that have left no hope for a peaceful solution of the problem."
M.G.: Do you think that the ISIS has changed the data on the world map? Who have been really interested to see it developing at a time when people are tortured, major problems remain unresolved and because of the activity of the ISIS, political and social disorders occur, that often bring us to the brink of war?
Mahmoud Abbas: "We must speak clearly. We must understand how and who created the ISIS. The ISIS is an extension of political Islamists and all derive from the same sources. We declare that all extremists, Muslims or not, must be combated. But we have to answer to the question: " Who created the ISIS?"
Because most of these extremists created are not dangerous only for the Middle East, but they have extended to Europe, as we recently saw in France, Belgium and other countries... We must understand who created them in order to realize several things.
First, the international community should agree at the definition of terrorism and unite in order to strike terrorism, no matter where it comes from. Saudi Arabia has just announced the creation of a coalition of Islamic countries in order to combat terrorism, and we will be part of this coalition.
We believe that peace must prevail in the world and not terrorism, and we always invite Israeli people and we give our hands and we say that we should begin peace talks, as soon as possible. This is the only way to fight against terrorism, and I should repeat: "Don't we know who really created the ISIS?”.
M.G.: The situation that has been created with refugees... these waves of uprooted people not just from Syria... where will they end up? And how will this story end according to your opinion?
Mahmoud Abbas: "They just started from the Middle East and proceeded to Europe. If the war does not end, they will spread to the whole world. What we must consider is who created the project called "New Middle East", the "Arab Spring" and other revolts of the kind... Who created them all? Who had an interest to create them and what would his profit be? It is like the man who took the devil out of the lamp only to lose control of him afterwards. Since the beginning of the conflicts and the "Arab Spring", We have had clear views about the Arab countries, especially about Syria.
There must be a political solution in Syria since it is the only way to ensure the unity, security and the lives of the Syrian people, because when there is security and stability there will be no immigration or refugees... However, the situation is exactly the opposite right now. Many countries have supported either sides and that led to what we can see happening now... and we have hundreds of thousands of refugees in Europe and, unfortunately, among them there are also Palestinians. In Syria, there are more than 600,000 Palestinian refugees, many of whom have been following the hard way to Europe with the Syrian refugees.
Now they are looking for a political solution, if this solution is found, refugees will return. And they are now looking for a solution because Europe began to suffer from the migration, although European countries are not responsible for it. A solution should be found and the support to the various warring parties should stop, too."
M.G.: What are your relations with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem?
Mahmoud Abbas: "Our relationship with the Greek Patriarchate is very good and harmonious, and we do not intervene in their internal matters. We have 13 different recognized churches here in the Holy Land and we treat them in exactly the same way, and it is our duty to protect them all. By the way, in a few days we will have Christmas according to the western calendar and later we will have Christmas for those who follow the Eastern calendar. Then we will have the Armenian Christmas and I will personally attend, as I have always done, all three ceremonies and I will congratulate all Christians, without exception.
On the 24th of the month, I will be in Bethlehem and on January, 7th, we will be celebrating with the Orthodox Church, so I am hereby sending my best wishes to all Greek people, to all Christian Churches and I hope these celebrations offer joy and peace around the world and especially to us for whom these festivals are part of our lives. When we celebrate Christmas here, the Muslims celebrate with us, because both Muslims and Christians are a people; we do not think Christians are a minority, they are indeed a part of the Palestinian people and we are responsible for the Holy Land.
As far as Greek people are concerned, we have warm relations, and we really feel it.
It may be because, as they say, we come from Crete, or because historical relations unite us, we are geographically close, we look alike, especially in character, and the most important thing is that Greek people support us! For these reasons, we are sending them a message of love and our best wishes.
I would like to wish Merry Christmas and thank Greece. "