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The Rediff Interview/Palestinian Ambassador to India Osama Musa Ali Mus

September 06, 2003

Palestinian Ambassador to India Osama Musa Ali Musa has been trying hard to ensure that the Indian bureaucracy understands the Palestinian viewpoint. On the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to India, Musa has
intensified his campaign to convey the feelings of his countrymen in the Indian media.

In an interview with Chief Correspondent Onkar Singh in New Delhi, the Palestine ambassador declares, "Governments may come and go, but the relations between the people of India and the people of Palestine continue to be cordial as ever." 

We have heard a lot about the American road map for the creation of the state of Palestine. Could you tell us what precisely is this road map?

The road map is nothing but some points which would ensure the end of occupation of our land by Israel. But this road map could become a reality only if the points that are contained in it are implemented. The US, UK, Russia and Europe have together put forward this road map which could ultimately lead to the creation of the state of Palestine. We agree to the road map, but the rulers of Israel do not accept it. This is not the first time that this is happening. 

During the Oslo agreement we had seen that the main difficulty came in the implementation of the agreement. We had many agreements with the Israelis, but always the problems have arisen whenever the matter came to the implementation stage. This road map cannot become a reality because it does not talk about any mechanism which would ensure that it is implemented.

Do you feel Israel is sincere in its efforts to implement the road map?

Neither Israel nor the US governments are sincere in their efforts to implement the road map.

But the Bush administration says the state of Palestine will be a reality by 2005.

Why wait till 2005? Why not tomorrow or six months later?

The reality is that the US administration is not ready to implement it. When (former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak) Rabin said he was not willing to shake hands with Yasser Arafat (US President Bill) Clinton called him at 3 in the morning and asked him to reach the US. And Rabin was there. Likewise, if the US wants, Israel will end its occupation within two hours. Who knows who the president of the US will be in 2005?

When someone is sinking in the sea they cling onto any piece of wood in the hope of getting out of the water. So we continue to hope that the road map will become a reality sooner or later.

What areas will comprise the state of Palestine?

The Gaza strip and West Bank, which is 23 per cent of the total area of Palestine as it existed before, in 1967. Israel is ignoring the UN resolution and continues to occupy our land by force, sending tanks and armoured vehicles.

What is the Government of India's current position on the Palestinian issue?

The Government of India understands our point of view, that is why they invited our Foreign Minister Nabeel Shaath to visit India before Sharon's visit. The people of India and the people of Palestine have cordial relations. Governments come and go, but it is the relationship between the people of the two countries that matters to us. We are thankful to the present government who has given four acres of land to build our embassy in New Delhi. We hope the Government of India will take up our cause during Sharon's visit.

But Israel wants to have peace talks minus Yasser Arafat.

Who are they to tell us who should be our leader and who should not be our leader? The people of Palestine have chosen Arafat as our leader and he continues to be our president. Sharon has virtually imprisoned him in his office. We are in touch with him through phone and letters. He is fine and in high spirits. If need be, we will elect him as our president again. Talks or no talks, Arafat is our president. He is born to lead the people of Palestine. He is the man who initiated peace in the Middle East. He had the courage to shake hands with Rabin and start the peace talks. He recognised Israel, something which no Palestinian would have had the courage to do.

When will the violence end in the Middle-East?

People always ask me the wrong question -- when will the violence end? The right thing for you should have been to ask when Israel will ends its occupation of our land. The day Israel ends occupation violence will come to an end in Palestine.

One sends in gunships and the other suicide bombers. This way, the cycle of violence will only grow. 

Nobody can stop the people of Palestine to fight for their rightful cause to attain freedom from Israeli occupation.
Violence begets violence. First, we used to throw stones at the Israeli army but still they killed us. Then we started our armed revolt.

Pakistan tries to compare the Kashmir situation with Palestine.

It is wrong to compare the two situations. In Kashmir you do not have settlements for foreigners. But we in Palestine have settlements of Jews being set up on our own land. This is not acceptable to us and we will not let this happen.

What is the way out?

The day the United States puts pressure on Israel to end hostilities and implement the road map, the solution to the
Palestine problem will come automatically.

Design: Uttam Ghosh

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