‘It was a set up’

AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen

‘It is a shame’, says Ahmad. ‘It is a set up. This is so obvious. Look at what happened in Beitunia, Ramallah, Nablus and now the deal on the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. Imagine, as the Israeli public openly speaks about transfer, the Palestinian Authority is approving a deal to deport Palestinians. They even help Israel deport and expel Palestinians.’

In the old city of Nablus, residents are angry. The majority is busy trying to get their lives back in order. Others are still traumatized by the events that happened.

‘An important figure within the authority said on Jazeera that he was leading the resistance in the old city, while in fact, people saw him in another part of the city’, says a resident. ‘We feel betrayed by them. It was a set up.’

Yesterday, at Najah National University in Nablus students are speaking about their anger towards various deals apparently made by the Palestinian Authority. They discussed the surrender of Palestinian resistance in the old city of Nablus, the siege of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem and the deportation deal, and the deal made for the end of the siege on Arafat’s compound in Ramallah. One of the residents of the old city of Nablus said: ‘They had been preparing to defend Nablus. However, the resistance in the old city was left alone. The Palestinian Authority did not defend the city. When the Israeli army occupied the city they knew exactly where to go.’

Another resident spoke about the governor of Nablus, who apparently said on the Arabic satellite channel Al-Jazeera that he was leading the resistance in the old city. However, residents of Nablus saw him in another part of Nablus. ‘They guys were left on their own. It was a set up. They had to surrender, otherwise they would have shelled the entire old city. Only the residents of the old city helped them, provided them with food and a place to sleep. They were defending the honour of the city. Look at what price they paid?’

Since details are becoming to appear in the media about the deal on the Nativity Church, various political factions, including Fatah, have spoken against it. Fatah denounced the deal in a statement as ‘a plot’ to expel fighters from their homeland and stated that it would hold “all those who have contributed to this dangerous humanitarian crime responsible and demands that they be held accountable.’

One of the thirteen Palestinians Israel wants to deport said yesterday on Al-Jazeera that they were not even consulted about the deal.

In leaflets circulating in various Palestinian towns, Fatah declared the deal ‘the worst agreement ever in the history of Palestine.’ It said that by going along with the deportation of thirteen Palestinians to a third country, Arafat was helping to legitimize the Israeli occupation and the practice of deportations. It warned the pact would only open the way for more deportations in the future.

Ordinary Palestinians are furious. They say that the deal reinforces the principle of transfer adopted by Sharon and the rest of the Israeli public.

Other factions declared that the deal amounted to ‘Palestinian approval of an Israeli policy to expel and exile people’ and described the deal as ‘a mark of shame that angers the Palestinian people.’

A resident asked: ‘Why did they agree to arrest and detain those who killed Ze’evi, while Israel officially approves the assassination of seventy Palestinian political leaders. Did the authority asked for the arrest and detention of those Israeli commanders and soldiers who assassinated Abu Ali Mustafa? Are soldiers and commanders who have killed Palestinian civilians also going to be expelled?’

He added: ‘When the Palestinian leadership signed Oslo, it was not clear to us what was written in it. Slowly over time we came to understand the meaning of that agreement. However, at this point, it is obvious what the authority is doing to us and where it will lead us: nowhere.’

- the picture shows Palestinian residents who put up a poster of Abu Ali Mustafa, who Israel assassinated in August 2001, former head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, just outside the compound of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, one day after Israeli forces moved to the city borders of Ramallah, Friday May 3, 2002 (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen).