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Newspaper Pagina/12
Buenos Aires – Thursday, May 16 of 2002


We are in the same way than 54 years ago (view)

Palestinians commemorated yesterday the “Nakba” day (catastrophe), when the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 sent thousands of Palestinians into exile and caused the creation of the present dispersion. The Palestinian Ambassador in Argentina, Suhail Akel, had an interview with Pagina/12 about the importance of this commemoration, today.

-What do Palestinians feel about the “Nakba” commemoration in the present context?

-Its meaning is really strong: after 54 years of the creation of the State of Israel and the lack of restitution of the Palestinian State, the Palestinian people continue commemorating the “Nakba” day as they used to at that time. After 54 years, the issue of refugees and the issue of Palestinian people’s national rights over their territory have not been solved yet. If we take into account the latest declarations of the Likud party on last Sunday, where it denied and vote against (2,700 delegates) a restitution of the Palestine State, we are evidently still living in the same way than in that first moment of catastrophe.

-What was your personal experience like?

-I was born in ancient Jerusalem, my family is one of the oldest families in Jerusalem. When the State of Israel was created over my country, my family became part of the “Nakba”. We were expelled from our land and I was able to go back to my country only after 46 years of exile. The State of Israel did not develop within the humanitarian context, but within the violence of Zionist terrorists who had destroyed 387 Palestinians villages at that time. This allowed David Ben Gurion to proclaim the creation of the State of Israel on May 15.

-What is your reflection on this?

-We are going to continue being committed to the peace of the braves, we are committed to those sectors such as the Israeli pacifists, but we condemn Sharon, Peres, Mofaz and Ben Eliezer ’s policy. We claim for the existence of two states for both people.

-How do you interpret today Arafat’s declarations (referring to yesterday)?

-I do not know whether it has to be regarded as a recognition; besides, we are not the ones who must accept the idea of recognizing something. Of course, we are a democracy; there were democratic elections on January 29 of 1996 where Arafat succeeded. Obviously, we want to carry out democratic elections and develop our people in all their powers, but if we are not independent or if we are an occupied country, we cannot do so. We have an occupied and submitted country which has no rights. President Arafat has expressed that we are in good condition to create a modern and democratic state, but we need freedom and sovereignty to achieve that. Israel constantly emphasizes that it is the only democracy in Middle East. But Israel is a theocratic country with no Constitution and it has not delimited or presented its borders before the United Nations. That is, it urges us to do what it does not do.

Interviewer: Mercedes Lopez San Miguel

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