Abbas Says 'Armed Struggle' May Be Future Option for His People

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:18 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is considered a "moderate" by Israel and the U.S. because he supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, didn't talk like a moderate in a newspaper interview published on Thursday.

Abbas did not rule out resuming the armed conflict against Israel, according to the Jordanian newspaper al-Dustur. In the interview, Abbas boasted that he had fired the PLO's first shot in 1965; and that the Palestine Liberation Organization, of which he was a leader, had taught terror groups around the world, including Hizballah, how to fight.

Abbas was former PLO leader Yasser Arafat's right-hand man.

"I do not support a return to armed struggle at this point in time," Abbas said. "But, at a later date, this could be an option for the Palestinian people," Abbas said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office declined to comment on Abbas' remarks.

"I had the honor of firing the first shot in 1965 and of being the one who taught resistance [terrorism] to many in the region and around the world; what it's like; when it is effective and when it isn't effective; its uses, and what serious, authentic and influential resistance is," Abbas was quoted as telling the newspaper.

"It is common knowledge when and how resistance is detrimental and when it is well timed," he added. "We [Fatah] had the honor of leading the resistance and we taught resistance to everyone, including Hizbullah, who trained in our military camps."

The PLO openly fought Israel until former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo Accords with Arafat on the White House lawn in the presence for former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1993.

Many believed at the time that signing a peace agreement with Israel was just another step toward the PLO's strategic goal of destroying the State of Israel.

Following the failure of the Clinton peace summit at Camp David in the summer of 2000, Arafat launched what was billed at the time as a spontaneous uprising -- the second intifadah. It differed from the first intifadah of the late 80s and early 90s because the participants fired weapons instead of throwing rocks.

Abbas distinguished himself at the beginning of the 2000 intifadah by saying that he thought it had been a mistake for the Palestinians to use weapons against Israel.

Subscribe to the free daily E-Brief.

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.