The following interview with Palestinian writer and activist Khaled Barakat was published (in the Greek language) in the Greek newspaper, Efimerida ton Syntakton:
What is the current situation concerning the Israeli-Palestinian relations since the last assault on Gaza? Do you support the notion that this war was won by the Palestinian Resistance?
This war was won by the Palestinian resistance, because the Israeli enemy did not achieve its goals. In fact, Israel committed war crimes, killing over 2000 Palestinians, and destroying tens of thousands of homes, targeting health workers, and many other crimes. This is what colonizers and occupiers do to the indigenous, native population, and to oppressed communities – exert massive state violence on a whole population. But if we are discussing real, military battles, confrontation on the battlefield, the Zionists and their backers have lost miserably. Just read what Israel’s top generals have had to say about this war. No military expert – or even someone with basic military knowledge – would disagree with this, after seeing the results. The resistance managed to capture Israeli soldiers from the battlefield, managed to hold their ground, and rebuffed the ground invasion. Every time the Israeli forces lost on the battlefield in the ground invasion, their response was to massively bomb civilians. Lastly, the armed resistance is growing by the day.
What has changed in Gaza during the last few years? Can the armed resistance forces successfully confront the strongest army in the Middle East?
Yes, the resistance of the Palestinian people can successfully confront – and defeat – the military power of the Israeli state. Always, armed revolutionary forces are fighting an army of a superpower, or an army that possesses qualitative advantage in terms of funding, weaponry, arms and support from major powers. But what is important is that we are fighting for a just cause. It is an armed resistance, yes, but it is a people’s resistance. We do not evaluate the results of the war to liberate Palestine from one battle – whether we have achievements or losses. This Palestinian armed resistance is 100 years old. When we fought the British, we were fighting the strongest army in the world – not the fourth-strongest. When the Resistance in Greece was fighting the Nazis, they were fighting what was seen as the strongest army in the world. It is a long war but we will emerge victorious. This is inevitable.
What is the situation in Gaza today and which priorities are set? Do you have any expectations from the proximity talks in Cairo, which are mediated by Egypt? I mostly refer to the prospect of lifting the Gaza siege.
As for the needs of Gaza, what is the most important thing today is the physical and mental health of our people, particularly children. Humans come first – then buildings, roads and electricity. We know the heavy cost that Israel inflicted upon our people on all levels. We recognize that Israel bombed hospitals, schools, playgrounds – including bombing children playing on the beach.
The second priority is to maintain our functioning Palestinian society, and circle of life – rebuilding the infrastructure that was specifically targeted by Israeli bombers. Remember that we have over 100,000 displaced people in Gaza – among a population that was already over 85% refugees. Entire neighborhoods were destroyed, in places like Beit Hanoun and Khuza’a. Sewer systems were destroyed, as were water systems – already facing a deep crisis before the assault. Schools have become shelters and were targeted for bombing. Our people in Gaza have shown tremendous steadfastness and resilience, during and after the war.
As to the second part of the question, we do not rely on illusions. We know that Israel is defeated, and therefore, they must comply with the demands of the resistance – the demands of the Palestinian people. But the problem is that Israel wants to transform this into a permanent status of negotiations – we are aware of this. As far as the position of the PFLP is concerned, we will never trust the Zionist enemy and Arab reactionary regimes and their false promises.
How do you receive the prospect of the recommencement of the Israeli-Palestinian talks and on what grounds could this happen?
These negotiations are nothing but a cruel joke and a big lie. It is a futile path. Negotiations and the so-called “peace process” is an industry that some feed on. On the one hand, Israel is using negotiations in order to cover its crimes that it commits on a daily basis, particularly the theft of land and the building of colonies, imposing and deepening apartheid and occupation on a daily basis while it attempts to project an image for international public opinion that “peace” is in the making. On the other hand, it benefits the Palestinian despicable, rotten capitalists, who are hiding behind a big, false slogan called “the Palestinian state” while occupation intensifies. These negotiations are futile for the Palestinian people. For over 20 years, they have achieved nothing for the people – but they are a moneymaker for Zionists and for a few Palestinian capitalists in the West Bank and Gaza.
So, in short, whether these negotiations resume in public or not, we know that they continue on a daily basis in the shadows of closed rooms. These negotiations do not stop and they will not stop unless the Palestinian Authority is forced to truly end their participation in this farce through popular resistance.
These negotiations are guarded by the “big boss” – the United States. These negotiations are dear to the U.S. and Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies are puppets following orders.
Do you see any grounds for the recognition of Palestine as an independent state and a member of the UN?
This is a bit of a messy question for the PFLP. On the one hand, we want to end the path of negotiations and take back the political struggle in international institutions, including the United Nations. We see that the international arena, despite all of our reservations on it, and the misuse of these bodies by imperialist powers, remains a space for an open political battle against the Zionists and the United States. This is a million times better than negotiations. We want to be able to make a breakthrough in terms of bringing Zionist leaders to trial before the International Criminal Court, and we believe this is a very important battle because if it will not happen tomorrow, or in 10 years, or even in our generation – other Palestinian generations will continue the fight until this happens. Zionists must be put on trial. So it is a tactical position as far as the PFLP is concerned. When the Palestinian state was recognized as a non-member observer state at the United Nations, we issued a statement calling on the Palestinian Authority president not to use this as a tactic for another cycle of illusions and negotiations. What we know for sure is that the Zionists are infuriated because they do not want this to be a gateway to other Palestinian steps or international pressure.
What would be your message to the Greek people?
Our message to the Greek people is that Palestinians know the support and solidarity they have in Greece. The relationship between our two peoples is very long and deep in history. In every Intifada, we always find Greek fighters, revolutionary political parties, in the forefront of solidarity with Palestine. We know also that you are going through harsh times, fighting economic hegemony, plundering the resources of the Greek people, threatening your water, land and air. We stand in solidarity with the Greek people’s fight to reclaim their country and liberate Greece from these forces. This is a message of love, respect and the commitment to struggle for Palestinians, Greeks and all people of the world who seek freedom, justice and liberation, and a truly just world for humanity.