Ten questions & Ten answers
By Fr. Raed Abu-Sahlia
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
February 9, 2001



You will find also hereby my answers to you questions, even if it will be very short:
 

1. How did the Christians vote in the Israeli elections (and how many)?
 

The Arab Christians inside Israeli are part of the Palestinian people but who live inside Israel. They are around 120.000
Christians. They have the right to vote, but like all the other Arabs inside Israel they decided to boycott the elections, therefore,
less that 15% of them voted for Barak, because they can't vote for Sharon since they know very well who is he; and they are
angry from Barak because of last October policy he used against them during the manifestations in which 13 Arabs were killed.
We can say few of them voted.
 

2. Would Christians have voted for Peres if he had stood instead of Barak?
 

All they including Christians would have voted for Peres. They have said that clearly. But even if they vote for him he will not win
because the difference between both of them was very big 25% and they are only 12% of those who have the right to vote.
Maybe some other lay Jews would have voted for Peres also because they didn't even vote for both of them since they know
who are they!
 

3. Is Sharon a "better bet" for peace in the long run? i.e. because the West might be more supportive for Palestinians when the
Israelis are led by a man with Sharon's record? Or because at least "you know where he stands"?
 

Sharon will never be able to make peace, because we know were he stands. He will never give as much as Barak himself was
welling to give, and they Palestinian didn't accept that. Even if Sharon changes lane and shows a desire to give some concessions
like Barak, more or less than him, they extremists who supported him and who are around him now will never allow him to do
that, otherwise they will withdraw from his government.Sharon might do for us a favor in the sense that he will show the world
the true ugly face of Israel if he commits some grave mistakes or take very hard measures against Palestinians; He will also prove
that strength and violence will not resolve the problem, only true and just peace will do that.
 

4. Does the Israeli leadership make any difference to Israeli policies on the ground? Or does the complexity of the Knesset make
it impossible for any leader to have effective control?
 

We think that both of the leaders in Israel, and both of the parties are worst one than another. All of them have the same policy.
Even Barak who used to have angels wings showed the worst actions against Palestinians and couldn't have enough courage to
make peace. It is the ideology and the theology, which is behind and in the mind of these people which is dangerous. They want
security only for them and they don't want pay the price of peace, which is justice.
 

Then, it is clear that the complexity of the actual Knesset which makes it more and more difficult. It is composed from the
national and religious extremists, and several small parties, there are no big parties, and even the Likoud and the labour lost many
of their places. Therefore and government will have to make a combination of coalition with different parties with different
interests. I think that this will be the major obstacle in front of Sharon: to form a good and solid government.
 

5. How important is the army in Israeli policy? Who would soldiers vote for? Did they vote as one group, or did they vote
differently?

I don't know exactly what is going in inside this complicated body, but we noticed in the last months an increasing of
fundamentalism and extremism inside the whole Israeli society including the army itself. We saw how aggressive they were in the
repression of the actual Intifada. It seems that the security level in Israel is more important and stronger than the political level.
 

6. What's going to happen now? What does the future look like for Palestinian Christians? Will there be closures and increased
aggression from the IDF? Will Fatah and Islamic Jihad become more active in their resistance against the occupation? etc.
 

We are not prophets.. But it is clear that we have more months of suffering in front of us... not only for Christians but for all the
Palestinians and the Israelis as well.

There will be more closures, aggressions, and economic crisis. Absence of tourists and pilgrims in they holy places will be a real
disaster, because almost all they hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, even the holy places are empty since more than four months.

The Intifada will continue of course and the resistance will not stop unless we achieve our objective of liberation and
independence. We might have ups and downs. Some surprises. I am afraid that some strong aggression or massacres will
happen suddenly. But we don't know exactly what will happen. We are now in the honeymoon with Sharon. We will wait and
see...!!!
 

7. Is Arafat in a stable position? How long can he last without some kind of peace agreement? If the situation remains volatile,
will people opt for a more extremist leadership, like Hamas? Or someone else?
 

Arafat is an historic leader and a symbol of a whole people.. We know very well that he is not the best. But for the time being his
presence is very important for the stability in the whole region. I think that the people will give him a chance to achieve the
dreams of the Palestinian people since he is struggling in this battle since more than 30 years. They will not come now any say to
him go out and we will find another leader. Of course his popularity and stability depends very much on the peace process.
Because we notice that the people is tired and depressed and want to finish as soon as possible, but at the same time not in any
price.

I don't think that the Islamist and the extremists will take over the rule in the future, because the Palestinian people have a very
long history and record of democracy and plurality. We will remain united with our differences because we have the same goal.
 

8. Will Islamic fundamentalists become more active after the elections?
 

If Sharon shows his ugly face as he used to do. They will be more active against him in order to show him that they are there and
ready to create a big confusion inside Israel. They can use the same methods of Hizbullah in south Lebanon and teach him a
lesson that he can't control the will of a whole nation and that he will loose the battle against the resistance. We hope that we will
need to reach that stage even if it is very possible...!!!
 

9. How do the Palestinian people feel about the current situation? Do they have any hope for the future? Has emigration
increased, or is it likely to do so under a Sharon government?
 

Of course we still hope that the future is ours.. that we will win.. that we will reach our freedom and independence at the end..
Soon or later. but now, we have feeling that we have to wait more time and pay a heavier price.. Because it seems that Israelis
are not ready and mature enough to recognize the rights of the others. They want peace but in their own ways. And this is not
acceptable for the Palestinians.... It is a historical determinism that injustice will not be the last word. And justice will prevail at
the end. We believe in that. And we still hope that our dreams will become true and reality.
 

10. Do you know if anything happened to Senator Mitchell's fact-finding mission? Is it true that Israel has objected to their
enquiries and they have left the region?
 

Israel doesn’t want this commission to work because it will show the true face of the so-called democracy, therefore they are
putting all kind of obstacles and pretext in order to delay or criticize it. Then, we as Palestinians think that this commission is
useless and waste of time, money and energy. Because they will not be fair and impartial, and even if they will be fair and reach
good results and give a very good report about all what happened. Everything will remain ink on papers because Israel will never
recognize the results and abide to the will of the International community and law. It was always like that. It never applied any of
the hundreds of resolution, which were taken in the UN against it. It is above all Law. They act and react like the boss of the
world... and this is the reality and the truth unfortunately...!!???