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Bargaining on a historical turning point


Syrians opposed Palestinian independence
Uri Avnery Social activist
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ערפאת לא קיבל מרות מאף אחד, ודאי לא מהסורים. העם הפלסטיני באופן מסורתי יש לו חיבה וקשר עם מצרים ולא כל כך אוהב את הסורים. כשצמרת 'פת״ח' שישבה בדמשק לא צייתה להוראות הסורים. חאפז אל אסד כבר היה? לא בטוח. המשטר הבעת' על כל פנים, של סוריה. אז יום אחד פשוט אסרו את כל אנשי המפקדה של 'פת״ח' שישבו בדמשק ונשארה בחוץ רק אשה אחת: אינתיסר אל-ואזיר, אשתו של אבו איאד [הכוונה לאבו ג'יהאד'], והיא הפכה למפקדת של כוחות 'פת״ח'. זו הפעם הראשונה בהיסטוריה המודרנית שאשה פיקדה על כוח חמוש ערבי. אשה מאוד נחמדה אגב.‏

אז בשלב הזה של מלחמת ששת הימים כבר הייתה קיימת איבה רצינית בין סוריה ו'פת״ח'. המחשבה שלי הייתה רתוקה כל הזמן לעניין של מדינה פלסטינית, על זה נדבר תכף. האויב הגדול של רעיון העצמאות הפלסטינית בצד הערבי היה סוריה, לכן הרעיון ההגיוני שלי היה: אנחנו נחסל את הכוח הסורי, ובזה נאפשר ל'פת״ח' להרים ראש, להקים מדינה פלסטינית. מה גם שאילו הייתה המלחמה נגמרת באותו שלב, מבלי שסוריה הייתה מוכה, סוריה הייתה הופכת למרכז העולם הערבי, וכל העניין הפלסטיני היה נדחק אפילו לא לקרן זווית, היה נהרג פשוט. זה היה ההיגיון שלי באותו רגע. אבל על רקע כל מה שקרה וזה אני התחרטתי מהר מאוד והתנצלתי פומבית על ההצעה הזאת. אולי גם היחסים שלי עם יגאל השפיעו עלי מפני שיגאל היה כמובן בעד המלחמה. דיין לא רצה. דיין, שר הבטחון, מאוד פחד מרוסיה, מברית המועצות, והוא פחד שאם אנחנו נתקיף את סוריה הרוסים יתערבו לכן הוא הצביע נגד. מי שהיה בעד זה יגאל אלון וכל החבורה הזאת של 'אחדות העבודה‏'.‏


Arafat did not accept the authority of anyone and certainly not the Syrians. Traditionally the Palestinian people like and feel connected with Egypt and do not really like the Syrians. When the Fatah hierarchy was based in Damascus they did not really comply with Syrian orders. Was Hafez al-Assad in the picture then? I'm not sure. The Ba'ath regime, in any case, of Syria. Then one day they simply imprisoned all of the members of the Fatah leadership who lived in Damascus and only one woman remained free: Intissar al-Wazir, the wife of Abu Iyad and she became the commander of the Fatah forces. The first time in modern history that a woman commanded an Arab armed force. A very nice woman by the way.

So at this stage of the Six Day War there was already serious enmity between Syria and Fatah. I was constantly thinking about the matter of a Palestinian state which we will talk about soon. The great enemy of the idea of ​​Palestinian independence on the Arab side was Syria, so my rational idea was: we'll destroy the Syrian forces and this will allow Fatah to rise up and establish a Palestinian state. Moreover, if the war were to finish at that point without Syria being beaten, Syria would become the centre of the Arab world, and the Palestinian issue would not even have been pushed into a corner, it would simply have died. This was my reasoning at that point. But having considered everything that happened I very quickly regretted and apologised publicly for this proposal. Maybe my relationship with Yigal had influenced me because Yigal was, of course, in favour of the war. Dayan did not want it. Dayan, the Minister of Defence, was very afraid of Russia, the Soviet Union, and he was afraid that if we attacked Syria, the Russians would intervene, and therefore he voted against it. The one who was in favour of it was Yigal Allon and this whole Achdut Ha'Avoda group.

Uri Avnery (1923-2018) was an Israeli writer, journalist and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. As a teenager, he joined the Zionist paramilitary group, Irgun. Later, Avnery was elected to the Knesset from 1965 to 1974 and from 1979 to 1981. He was also the editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine, 'HaOlam HaZeh' from 1950 until it closed in 1993. He famously crossed the lines during the Siege of Beirut to meet Yasser Arafat on 3 July 1982, the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Avnery was the author of several books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including '1948: A Soldier's Tale, the Bloody Road to Jerusalem' (2008); 'Israel's Vicious Circle' (2008); and 'My Friend, the Enemy' (1986).

Listeners: Anat Saragusti

Anat Saragusti is a film-maker, book editor and a freelance journalist and writer. She was a senior staff member at the weekly news magazine Ha'olam Hazeh, where she was prominent in covering major events in Israel. Uri Avnery was the publisher and chief editor of the Magazine, and Saragusti worked closely with him for over a decade. With the closing of Ha'olam Hazeh in 1993, Anat Saragusti joined the group that established TV Channel 2 News Company and was appointed as its reporter in Gaza. She later became the chief editor of the evening news bulletin. Concurrently, she studied law and gained a Master's degree from Tel Aviv University.

Tags: Egypt, Syria, Fatah, Palestine, Yasser Arafat, Hafez al-Assad, Yigal Allon, Moshe Dayan

Duration: 3 minutes, 28 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 11 May 2017