Nabil Amr, the former Palestinian information minister, warned that Palestinians have to choose either genuine democracy based on the rule of law or national demise.
He said the Palestinian Authority (PA) suffered from “rampant misgovernance, lawlessness and a lack of accountability”.
Amr returned this week to his home town of Dura, southwest of Hebron, after a lengthy recuperation in Germany, where he had his right leg amputated. He survived an attempt on his life in the West Bank town of Ram Allah a few months ago.
It is widely believed that gunmen close to the late Palestinian president Yasir Arafat were responsible for shooting Amr.
The PA police have failed to catch the perpetrators, a fact Amr says underlines the incompetence and chaos permeating the Palestinian government.
Speaking to Aljazeera in Dura, Amr accused the PA of failing to deal properly and seriously with the attempt on his life.
“If this happened anywhere in the world, the perpetrator would be caught within 24 hours, but in Ram Allah those who were supposed to uphold the law and protect our security raced to hide and protect the would-be assassin so that he could try to assassinate other people.
“He who thinks that we are in the best conditions doesn’t know what he is talking about,” Amr added.
The former minister lashed out at the Fatah movement, accusing it of lacking transparency and indulging in pointless rhetoric instead of facing reality.
Amr said Fatah could still work
“For many years, we espoused resonating slogans, we turned truth into falsehood and we always turned falsehood into truth.”
Nevertheless, Amr said, he was convinced Fatah was still able to “continue the march” in cooperation with other Palestinian national and Islamic forces which he described as “our sons and brothers”.
Amr said the PA needed a thorough shake-up encompassing all aspects of governance and administration.
He specifically called for the unification of all security agencies into one apparatus under the command of the Palestinian government.
Asked if he was optimistic about reviving the peace process, now that US President George Bush has been re-elected and Arafat, long accused by Israel of impeding peace efforts, is dead, Amr said much of the optimism was artificial and lacked substance.
“If America is willing to exert meaningful pressure on Israel to meet the requirements of peace, then there will be peace, otherwise, we will continue to rotate in the same vicious circle”
“There might be an opportunity, but it is far from guaranteed. Peace in this part of the world, and probably elsewhere as well, depends to a very large extent on the Americans’ willingness to defuse the powder keg, the Israeli occupation of our homeland.”
“If America is willing to exert meaningful pressure on Israel to meet the requirements of peace, then there will be peace, otherwise, we will continue to rotate in the same vicious circle,” he continued.
Amr described the Palestinian problem as the single most important root cause of instability, tension and violence in the world today.
He pointed out that Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazin) who has been chosen as Fatah’s candidate in the upcoming election, would have to be responsible and answerable to Palestinian democratic institutions.
“Gone is the time when the leader could ignore the democratic institutions. Abu Mazin will have a platform and detailed programme of action which he must follow and be accountable to everything he does.”
Amr also attacked the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon, saying it was responsible for the collapse of the Abu Mazin government in 2003.
Some say Ariel Sharon was
“The Israeli government could have helped it by observing the ceasefire with resistance groups, they could have helped by releasing Palestinian prisoners, but they chose to kill it, and that is exactly what they did.”
Amr, who was received by thousands of well-wishers and relatives, vowed to continue to speak up and defend what he believed was right.
“I assure you that Nabil whom they tried to kill will not change,” he told the well-wishers.
Some observes in the occupied territories have suggested that Amr might be picked by Abu Mazin, if he is elected, to form the next Palestinian cabinet.
Amr refused to answer questions in this regard, saying it was unimportant what position he would be asked to assume.