(AhlulBayt News Agency) - ‘Manuel Hassassian’ Palestinian Ambassador to the UK claims that If Israel continues building of settlements, nothing will remain of Palestine.
Q. What is your view on the Nekbat day and the continuation of the occupation of Palestinian lands?
A. Nekbat is the devastation of the Palestinian people and the forceful diasporization of almost 900,000 as a result of a war in 1948 where the Jews had managed with their what we call terrorist clans to spread havoc and fear among the Palestinian villages and in committing genocide or massacre of innocent Palestinians in Deir Yassin.
The Nekbat continues until today, because Israel had been using systematic policies of trying to get rid of the Palestinian demography through a subtle process of ethnic cleansing.
The Nekbat continues when Israel continues to control our lands in the West Bank by building settlements and by continuing the building of Apartheid wall.
The Nekbat continues when they put Gaza under siege for 10 years now.
We have not seen a government that is willing to have peace, we have seen a government that wants to get rid of the Palestinian people.
So 15th of May epitomizes not only to remember, but to make new vows that this Nekbat will never be revisited. Because the Palestinians are really determined to continue with their steadfastness overcoming the hurdles of the occupation and try to keep on struggling until the fulfillment of their national aspirations and that is having an independent viable Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Q. What is your view on Balfour declaration and the historical role of the British government?
A. We, the Palestinians consider the Balfour declaration as an infamous declaration that gives death warrant to the Palestinian people and that give the OK to the Zionists to control Palestine.
It promised a Jewish national home with respect to the civil and religious right of the non-Jewish communities. That’s what the Balfour declaration says.
The non-Jewish communities were 98 percent of the population. So the declaration refers to them as non-Jewish communities and minorities.
This infamous balfour declaration is a badge of dishonor and Britain should not be proud of such a document that devastated and made Palestinians live in destitution and in the Diaspora and in 'creating the establishment of the state of Israel'.
The UK government is planning to mark the 100 years of Balfour. We have objected, myself and my leadership in Palestine, that you cannot continue with such celebration while you owe to the Palestinian people their right to self-determination and their right to statehood.
I personally asked the minister Tobias Elwood who is minister for Middle East and North Africa and his answer was very simple. He said we are not going to apologize to the Palestinian people. The Balfour declaration is a piece of document of our British colonial history and marking the Balfour declaration emanates from the fact that we helped the Jewish communities that were persecuted in Europe. That was his official stance.
Q. President Mahmood Abbas said that he will sue the British government if the celebration goes ahead. Do you have any agenda here in the UK for pursing this ambition?
A. Yes, President Mahmood Abbas has said it almost 9 months ago through our foreign minister Dr. Riad Malki. He said if Britain continues with its celebration without recognizing the state of Palestine and then apologizing he will take it further and that means that he is going to deal with the possibility of suing the UK government.
I do not know to what extent, President Abbas has proceeded with this file, but I am being assured that there are lawyers who are studying the legal aspects of the Balfour declaration.
The file is under scrutiny by the lawyers who are looking further into whether there is a legitimate legal case or not. But still we are trying to use our diplomatic resources not to reach that stage, because we do not want to antagonize the UK.
The present government of UK is totally in concert with the Americans and the Israelis.
So Theresa May, had invited Benjamin Netanyahu to come and be part of the celebration of balfour. This is adding salt to injury.
We are not fond of this government and what they are doing, because also they are not recognizing us, but demoting our embassy from delegation to a mission. Now in terms of functionality any ambassador that comes after me is not going to have privileges, the ambassador is going to pay income tax to the government.
Already they have implemented the paying taxes to our diplomats here . So any diplomats who come here has to apply for a Tier 5 visa which means that they are dealing with us as if you are an NGO with no diplomatic privileges whatsoever.
These are some the reactions that the British have conveyed to us; Maybe because of the Zionist lobby here, maybe because of the impact of Trump and Israel and maybe because president Abbas threatened in taking them to court.
Q. What is your view on the Two-state solution with regards to the current political climate, specially with regards to the victory of Donald Trump?
I think the invitation of president Mahmood Abbas is a recognition by itself by Trump and the new US administration. But I never have high expectation from the Americans. I think that was a formal trip where president Trump has to show the world that he already met president Abbas as he had met Netanyahu, Al-sisi ,…
So this visit comes as continuation of feeling out what we call the confrontation with the state of Israel along with the Palestinian side.
I was not expending wonders in this meeting, except acknowledgment that there is a Palestinian leader who is legitimate and represents the Palestinian people. That in itself was a major triumph of what we call public fun fair.
The president was very much concerned about the two issues. The issue of the hunger strike of the Palestinian prisoners and the second concern is the building of settlements. Because the building of settlements is a sign that Israel does not really want peace and it is a great impediment to any kind of going back to the negotiating table.
President Trump, I do not think he cares about two-state or one-state solution. I think all he wants is to make a deal of peace between the two parties and that the two parties will come out with a solution that they perceive to be appropriate for both sides.
For the last ten years Gaza has been under siege with the bare minimum of life, bare minimum elements of survival and all the promises and vows are not being fulfilled.
You take East Jerusalem it is totally separated now from the West Bank and it is totally sealed by settlements called the E1 envelop which makes it impossible to have access to Jerusalem and Jerusalem is the heart of the Palestinian state. Our institutions and our economic services and our hospitals are there.
Around Jerusalem almost we have around 300,000 settlers and you have 350,000 settlers in the West Bank, so you are talking about 650,000 settlers living in the West Bank and Jerusalem and then you talk about peace and abut two-state solution.
My leadership still believes that it is doable. Still the international community is waiving the two-state solution, but in practicality if Israel continues with the building of settlement there is nothing left.
Q. Do you recognize Israel under the two-state solution?
A. There is an ideal solution and a pragmatic solution. The ideal solution is a one-state solution, a secular democratic entity called Israel Palestine. The pragmatic solution is a two-state solution which still the PLO is clinging to because this is more practical to happen.
Israel will never accept one-state solution, because that destroys their dream of having a Jewish state, because demographically in 10-15 years they will be the minority there.
So the two-state solution is an international obligation towards the Palestinians and the Israelis.
It is so unfortunate that security council resolution had never been implemented, because if they are implemented, if they are being taken against Israel either they have been vetoed or not implemented.
The PLO had recognized Israel by de facto 1988. When we have accepted the border of 1967 as the new Palestinian state, since then we embarked on a peace process for the last 24 years.
So by de facto the PLO had recognized the state of Israel over 78 percent of Palestine. So we are talking about 22 percent of Palestine where Israel almost controlling half of it now through building settlements and through prohibiting Palestinians to build and to use its natural resources towards developments.
So Israel entertains the two-state solution, but yet it is creating new facts on the ground to make even the two-state solution impossible.
The leadership is talking about the two-state solution, but time is not on our side, time is on the side of Israel. And if it continues with the rapid pace of building settlements nobody can ever dare to talk about two-state solution anymore.
Q. What is your view on the new document published by Hamas on its new position regarding the 1968 border?
A. I think this means that Hamas wants to re-engage back to the political process. It has two dimensions: One dimension is the fact that they are coming closer to PLO’s ambitions of aspirations or the national project of the two-state solution and by the same token they are trying to get a signal to president Trump that they are becoming more moderate and accepting the state of Israel, so the question of violence and the annihilation of state of Israel is something that Hamas can capitalize to become more in to the arena of political accommodation rather than confrontation through violence against Israel.
So I believe that this is a diplomatic ploy and frankly speaking I don’t know to what extent they are genuine in recognizing the borders of 1967, but Hamas is a pragmatic organization, they are very politically aware of the objective conditions and they are very well-aware of the international politics and what's happening in the region that could have an impact in the existence of Hamas.
Today you have a leadership that is not from the Diaspora of Khalid Mash’al, the leadership is somebody from Gaza, so this is much more pertinent to Israelis to do business with.
I think this is what Israel and everybody wants, is to see the leadership of Hamas is in the occupied territories and not outside so they can have a direct relationship with them.
The election of Ismail Haniyeh is a step stone in that direction.
Maybe that kind of a move by Hamas gives the momentum for re-engaging in what we call the national reconciliation between Hamas and Fath. If things continue to work in this direction, my anticipation is that within the coming 3 weeks or a month we might have a national unity government in Palestine.
Q. What is your thought about the role of Iran in supporting Palestine and condemning Israel?
A. Iran is supporting Palestine, but Iran is also a regional power. Iran has a lot of stakes in the Middle East.
We know Iran's relationship to the regime in Syria and its support for Hezbollah. Both parties has been resisting Israel. So from that perspective we don’t have except respect to Iran.