Arafat's Fatah And Other Groups Vow To Continue 'Uprising'

By Patrick Goodenough | July 7, 2008 | 8:08 PM EDT

( - Israeli and Palestinian security officials are meeting Wednesday to discuss ways of implementing the verbal ceasefire agreement President Clinton announced Tuesday, but several Palestinian groups - including PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's own Fatah faction - have called for the "uprising" to continue.

The organizations said more protests and rallies should be held, since the deal reached at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh held nothing for the Palestinians.

Following clashes overnight, further violence was reported Wednesday morning. At least five Palestinian demonstrators were hurt when they attacked an army post guarding a Jewish community in the Gaza Strop, prompting gunfire from Israeli troops. Violence also flared up in Nablus in the West Bank, when protestors began stoning Israeli army positions.

According to Clinton, both Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak agreed to end the violence through a series of gradual measures. Implementation has not been quick in coming, however.

Barak Tuesday night announced that he had "ordered the [Israeli] security forces to do everything required to implement the Sharm declaration and contact their American and Palestinian counterparts in order to act jointly to achieve this goal forthwith."

Late Wednesday the PA issued a statement, saying it was committed to implementing the Sharm el-Sheikh agreement, "which calls for an abstention from anything which can lead to tension and violence, and to work to calm the situation.">

Israeli government spokesman Nachman Shai told the BBC that Israeli and PA security officials were holding meetings in Gaza and the West Bank in order to work out how to implement the steps agreed upon in Egypt.

Israel agreed to pull its forces back from flashpoints near PA-ruled towns, although this has not yet happened.

Shai said Israel was waiting 48 hours to see if the clashes stop before pulling back its troops. The two-day assessment period would begin immediately after the meeting between security chiefs, he added.

Israel has in the meantime agreed to the reopening of the international airport in Gaza, which was closed because of the violent campaign, which the Palestinians have called the "al-Aqsa intifada (uprising)" after the key mosque on Jerusalem's contested Temple Mount.

Deal Repudiated

The unwritten, unsigned agreement reached at Sharm el-Sheikh was not widely welcomed in the PA self-rule areas.

In PA-controlled Nablus, several thousand demonstrators chanted slogans rejecting the deal as gunmen fired weapons into the air. Ali Farraj, a Fatah leader, told the crowd that "the uprising must continue."

Marwan Barghouti, leader of Fatah's armed Tanzim (which Israel accuses of spearheading gunfire attacks on its troops), also was quoted as saying his forces would continue to fight "until we achieve sovereignty."

The Islamic militant organization Hamas said in a statement the summit had not served the interests of the Palestinians, but only those of "the U.S. administration and the Zionist enemy."

Hamas said it rejected the outcome of the talks and would continue the uprising until its objectives were achieved.

"We stress that Al-Aqsa intifada was not launched for the achievement of minor demands. It was launched with the aim of expelling the occupation from our land and holy sites and attaining our full rights."

It called for the support of all Palestinians, and the wider Arab and Muslim world, and warned the PA that should it implementing the agreement, it would "be the loser in the end."

Further afield, Arab rejection of the U.S.-mediated agreement was spelled out in the regional media.

Editorials in the Gulf States characterized the U.S. as a biased player and some called on the Palestinians to continue their uprising.

Arabs had "lost confidence" in America's role, said Saudi's Riyadh daily.

The Gulf News in the United Arab Emirates said the Arabs would have to bring in organizations like the U.N., European Union and Arab League "to diminish the overbearing role of America which has shown that on account of its pro-Israel stance it cannot act as an honest broker."

The PA should not interpret the call to end the violence as "putting an end to the uprising," urged al-Khaleej, another UAE paper.

"As far as Mr. Clinton, his predecessors and cronies are concerned, Israel is always right and the Palestinians always wrong," wrote an opinion writer in Bahrain's Gulf Daily News.

In Damascus the official Syria Times said: "Neither Sharm El-Sheikh meeting nor any other summit can stop the legitimate national struggle so long as Israel continues to occupy the Arab lands."

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow