Jakarta, 12 Rabi’ul Akhir 1434 H/22 February 2013 (MINA) – “Palestinians are now in critical condition. But that’s a part of the struggle of Palestinian people toward their independence,” said Palestinian Ambassador to Indonesia Faris Mehdawi in an exclusive interview with Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)’s reporter in his office, Wednesday (20/2).
Here is the complete interview:
How is the last condition of Palestine today?
If we talk about Palestine, we must not only talk about West Bank and Gaza. Palestinine is the unity ranging from Rafah to Golan as pictured in the map.
Palestine is now in a difficult siruation. We face multiple crises caused by Israeli embargo including the Gaza Blockade. In political sector, we are trying to prepare for the transitional government by holding general elections in the next few months. In economic sector, businesses in Palestine does not run normally. It can be said almost paralyzed. It is because Israel controls almost all in and out Palestinian trade accesses.
The infrastructure sector also needs serious attention. Many buildings were damaged and need to be repaired. In Gaza for example, there are many public infrastructure buildings that are needed to be repaired due to Zionists brutal attacks during their 8-day aggression aganst Gaza.
Pollution is also a problem that had to be overcome. Water polution in Palestine makes water now no longer fit for consumption. Israel has polluted our water resources.
What about the result of Hamas-Fatah reconciliation which was held on February 19?
We are talking about the mechanism of elections which will be held on the next three or four months. We all know that the journey to a sovereign government is still long, but we will do it continuously to actualize the independent which gains the legitimacy from its residences.
Fatah and Hamas will meet as mush as possible to reach an agreement. Reconciliation will run continuously and try to avoid difference perceptions of both parties.
In this reconciliation, we do not want to have a lot of arguing, but our main goal is to reach an agreement that can be raelized together for the better future of Palestinians.
What about the condition of Palestinians in Israeli prisons?
Israel has been violating international law by building settlements on Palestinian land. International community knows that these regions are under the supervision of international law. But Israel did not care about it.
The Palestinians have been protesting these illegal Zionist Jews settlements building. As the result they were arrested and imprisoned without any apparent reason and without trial. We don’t know when it will end, they continue to cower in custody.
Israel tries to cover up these facts by stating in many international media that what they do is to prevent criminal acts by Palestinians.
The prisoners launched hunger strikes because the food which were given to the prisoners is believed could worsen their health, besides the Israeli treatment of prisoners is inhumane. Therefore, the hunger strike is the best option that can be done by the prisoners.
Some sources said that Palestinian had problems with their tax and revenues?
Yes, we actually has a lot of state revenues from taxes and other revenue sectors. But almost all of our revenues access had to pass through Israel.
For example, if the Palestinian goods that will be imported or exported, they have to pass through an airport or harbour which are controlled by Israel. So taxes and excise of the goods are controlled by Israel.
If the goods are transported by land, they also have to pass through the Israeli gates with a very tight Israeli control.
All the revenues is our right, but Israel hold it and not passing them to us. As a result we can not pay the salaries of government employees.
Recently we heard the teachers in Palestine staged a demonstration demanding the government to pay their salaries. Since November 2012 up until now, indeed we have not paid their salaries due to the lack of revenues coming into the state coffer.
It was very reasonable if the teachers did the action. They need the money for living expenses and transportations to work while the government could not pay their salaries. This is because Israel controls almost all access of the Palestinian trading.
What about the news of U.S. President Barack Obama to visit the West Bank. What is his agenda?
Barack Obama offers a new solution for Israeli-Palestinian peace. But we all know that it’s all going to be difficult as long as Israel does not obey the international law.
Actually, Obama’s relations with Netanyahu is no longer harmonious. It was evidenced by the statement that Obama called Netanyahu as a coward.
Netanyahu also openly expressed his support to Obama’s rival Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. But American policy is not solely determined by the Obama himself. There are many factors that influence U.S. foreign policy.
So even though Obama had an opposite stand with Netanyahu, but the business relationship between the two countries is still running well. America still continuesly give their support to Israel.
Recent issues stated that Egypt military closed the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt in the border. Is it true?
The operations of the tunnels are all outside the authority of the governments, both Palestine and Egypt. So the governments has no authority to control them.
It is true that there are some tunnels that were closed. It happened in Sinai. But there are many other tunnels are still operating. It was all done by private parties which do business in the Palestinian territories.
Since the opening of Rafah gate by the Egyptian government, the flow of goods in and out of Palestine are relatively easy. Goods and citizens who want to travel overseas are also easy. With the opening of the borders, the actual function of the tunnels became not so vital anymore.
These are done after Egyptian government led by Muhammad Mursi. Palestine-Egypt relationship is also getting better under his rule. We hope it can speed up the process of Palestinian independence.
Last question, how is the condition last of Al Aqsa Mosque?
Al Aqsa Mosque is in critical condition. Israel had finished digging a large tunnel under the mosque. It could be ensured when the earthquake or other big tremor happened, Al Aqsa Mosque will collapse by itself. They want to show the international community that the disaster led to the collapse the mosque, not by Israeli action.
Jerussalem’s residents are also in poor condition. They are prohibited repairing or building a house or other Palestinian public infrastructures. There is a very expensive tax and strict rules to obtain the permission to renovate their houses or public buildings.
If people want to travel outside the Jerusalem, they must pass a very rigorous check point. After they have been out of Jerusalem, they could no longer return to Jerussalem. This is a very tough situation endured by the citizens of Jerusalem. (L/P04/P02/E1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)