Speaking during an interview with Aljazeera.net on 21 November, Natshe, who was recently elected as Speaker of the 88-member Legislative Council, described the Israeli premier as “having a mentality that is alien to peace”.

“We are facing a racist, criminal and Nazi-like regime that flies in the face of international law. Therefore, there is no hope for any real breakthrough as long as this man (Sharon) remains at the helm of Israeli politics.”

Israeli tactics

Natshe dismissed Israel’s purported willingness to reach a ceasefire with the Palestinians as “tactical in nature and motivated by public relations considerations”.

“I don’t believe Sharon is serious about anything other than devouring more Palestinian land, building more Jewish settlements and further tormenting the Palestinian people," he said. 

Council speaker believes Sharon
is an obstacle to peace

"If Israel is serious about peace, why doesn’t it remove all these criminal ramparts and roadblocks from our streets and towns? We know, they know and the world knows that the purpose of these ramparts is to torment innocent civilians.”

Natshe praised the “extraordinary steadfastness and resilience” of the Palestinian people who have endured “three years of Gestapo-like persecution unseen since the second-world war”. 

“I am convinced that if other people had experienced what we have been going through since September 2000 (when al-Aqsa Intifada broke out against Israeli occupation), they would have fled and immigrated a long time ago.” 

The price of peace

Natshe said the Palestinian Authority was committed more than ever to “true peace and reconciliation” with Israel.

However, he added rather forcefully, “this commitment does not include greeting the Israeli occupation of our land with flower wreaths and olive branches”.

Israeli army represses and
torments Palestinians daily

“If they want peace, they must pay the price of peace. They must leave our homeland, all of it. They can't have peace and occupation at the same time. They would be deluding themselves if they thought so.” 

Natshe castigated the international community for “saying nothing and doing nothing in reaction to Israel’s arrogation of Palestinian land and ruthless repression of our people.”

“The world is watching this Nazi-like state rape a country and torment our people and is doing nothing about it. This is a disgraceful attitude that only encourages violence and extremism. When people are bereft of the hope for justice, they become frustrated and frustration eventually turns into violence.”

Hailing Hamas

Natshe praised the Islamic Resistance group, Hamas, describing its leadership as “wise, smart and having deep national consciousness”.

Natshe says Hamas has become
a mainstream player

“Hamas has become a mainstream player in our national struggle; I am happy to say that it has displayed national responsibility.”

He also praised the Palestinian internal unity, calling it the “hard rock upon which all Israeli plots have broken”.

Natshe said the Palestinian Authority would not persecute or repress “Palestinian political forces” on behalf of Israel and the United States.

“We will not act as errand boys or agents for Israel. We are responsible to our people not to Sharon or Bush.”

Geneva accords 

The speaker of the Legislative council also denied that the Palestinian Authority had adopted the Geneva accords, concluded two months ago by Palestinian and Israeli political figures.

“We will not act as errand boys or agents for Israel. We are responsible to our people not to Sharon or Bush"

Rafiq Natshe, speaker of Palestinian Legislative council

“Those who negotiated and signed this agreement represented only themselves. We in the Palestinian Authority don’t adopt this document but we don’t reject every part of it.”

He argued that any final peace agreement with Israel would have to be approved by the Palestinian people both at home and in the Diaspora through a referendum.

Natshe said that although Palestinians “are facing a predicament, the alternative is not to sell-out our rights under Israeli and American pressure.”

Europe's stance

Natshe applauded the Europeans for “beginning to see Israel as it is, a racist, expansionist and terrorist state that poses the greatest threat to peace and security of the world.”

“There will be no mercy for anybody involved in corruption, irrespective of his rank and stature"

Rafiq Natshe, speaker of Palestinian Legislative council

He described the recent Euro-barometer survey, which showed that a majority of Europeans viewed Israel as the greatest threat to world peace, as “very very paramount”.

“This is a very significant development," he said.

Natshe vowed to uphold the rule of law and make every conceivable effort to “eradicate graft, nepotism, favoritism, and all forms of corruption from the Palestinian effort”.

“There will be no mercy for anybody involved in corruption, irrespective of his rank and stature. The law will be above us all from office clerks to the President.”