The time for change has come

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One has to admit that the phase prior to Israel’s reoccupation of Palestinian lands and villages witnessed an important Palestinian experience in terms of establishing various types of institutions and services. This experience will not however be as significant as it should be as no evaluation and review process took place in order to determine the negative and positive elements to try and eliminate the “negatives” and push the “positives” to accumulate in the building and development process.

The next phase contains within it great responsibilities and complicated tasks. It cannot be faced and achieved successfully unless we learn from past experience and work on eliminating the negatives and pushing this unique experience towards accumulating the positive elements.

First it should be said that there is a general Palestinian feeling that the experience of building the security services was one with results which did not reach the goal aimed for at their establishment. Moreover we say that there is popular resentment towards these services either in terms of losing competence or the ability to protect the citizen and his property, or even in terms of directing traffic on the roads. The Israeli invasion came to add to the negative feelings of the citizens regarding the standard, competency and ability of the security services.

Productivity during the time of war was far weaker than the fragile productivity during times of peace.

The Palestinian people want a security service that ensures their safety and security, prevents attacks, protects against crime and works to achieve stability in every day life. Naturally, the Palestinian people do not want overbearing security services that intimidate them and do not provide them with protection.

The Palestinian people are calling for the rebuilding of the security services, and perhaps even merging them into one service that will serve the people and ensure their protection and security and the security of their property.

This is a fundamental lesson learnt from the terrorist racist Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people in all their cities and villages and in the refugee camps that were built around the cities after 1948.

Not only this, but the battle Sharon’s government waged against the unarmed Palestinian people has shown, much clearer than ever before, that the people are everything and that the services, institutions and ministries that were created, theoretically, to serve them did only a little to serve these heroic people before this racist barbaric attack took place. Citizens, businessmen, the private industrial, trade and agricultural sector, all suffered from the overbearing actions of some officials.

The ministries did not maintain the principle of eliminating the dependence on Israel economically, agriculturally, industrially and commercially. They did not abide by buying some of their supplies, appliances and machinery from Palestinian traders and industries. Instead, in some cases, they bought some of their supplies from Israeli traders, whereas these institutions and ministries were supposed to urge all traders, including the private sector, to import or buy any material, goods or appliances available in the markets through Palestinian businessmen. With this, these institutions and departments have violated the presidential decision regarding general performance, and violated the decision regarding buying their supplies as official institutions.

We as Palestinians are now facing a crucial moment é a decisive moment. Sharon is threatening our existence, and is seeking to implement Transfer; that is, to evict a large number of the Palestinian people to make room for taking in a million immigrants from Latin America. Therefore, I think a frank and clear discussion must be held regarding the future, or Israel will have the opportunity to play with and manipulate the fate of the Palestinian people, steadfast in the face of these plans.

President Arafat now enjoys the highest degree of popularity, admiration, love and appreciation from the entire Palestinian people. The people see in Yasser Arafat a steadfast giant, preserving his pledge, a man of great endurance, defying death through his deep belief in God and in victory. A verse in the Koran states that “If God makes you triumphant no one can defeat you”. The people see him as a symbol of their struggle and an unrivaled leader. At the same time, however, the Palestinian people wish that Yasser Arafat will come out of this barbaric attack strong and proud as the phoenix, come back to life from among the ashes and risen to see, as a giant, how trivial and deplorable the evils of life are.

The Palestinian people want President Yasser Arafat to end, forever, the overbearing manner of some services towards the people and to rebuild these services to serve them. They want this steadfast symbol, this phoenix, to rebuild the institutions on sound foundations of transparency, competence and productivity.

The Palestinian people want the Palestinian giant, the giant of the world national liberation movement and the leader of the liberation battle in the face of the strongest and the most racist power, to hold accountable all those officials who have become rich at the expense of the people, all those who have imposed illegal taxes, all those who have smuggled money, all those who have had dealings with Israeli businessmen to make illegal profits and all those who were negligent in their duties. They do not want him to bring back those who did not serve or protect or carry out their duty to help him, and who took advantage of their positions of responsibility.

The Palestinian people do not want President Yasser Arafat to bring back to life the various security services with the same specifications, instead they want a security service that will protect them, maintain their security, prevent crime and felonies and make the citizen feel safe and feel that his family and property are safe.

The people want their great leader to have the Palestinian Authority take care of the people, for each to obtain his rights, for the officials to deal seriously with the citizen’s rights, for the money to be spent for the good of the people, developing their social situation and developing their industries, agriculture and trade.

The Palestinian people that rally around the unique leader President Arafat want him to protect them from those who have abused their authority.

Finally, the sacrificing and steadfast Palestinian people, who have the highest percentage of educated people and university graduates in the Middle East in all fields and who excel over Israel in this, want to put at the disposal of their great leader all those competent people who have transparency, productivity and integrity in order to rebuild the institutions for a free homeland, one the Arabs can be proud of and one that can be superior scientifically and productively to Israel, the source of terrorism.

My words might be premature in light of the suffocating siege, but I firmly believe that the taking of practical steps by President Arafat to make the people that have sacrificed and have been and still are steadfast feel that he is serious and earnest in wanting to free the people from what they are suffering and have suffered from the occupation and the errors in the Palestinian Authority’s institutions’ dealings with the citizens. I say that the time has come for change, to give this people the leaders they deserve é leaders whose only concern is to help the people, serve them and provide what is needed to raise their stature.

This is how the symbol of liberation’s confrontation of the symbol of Israeli oppression can be seen. This is how the people rally more around their leader who has been steadfast and the people reply with equal steadfastness. Yasser Arafat in his steadfastness raises the morale of the people, and the steadfastness of the people raises the morale of Yasser Arafat.

Bassam Abu-Sharif is a special advisor to President Arafat.

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