Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Palestine - Freed Islamic Leader Urges National Unity

June 21, 2010 palestine-info.co.uk

Rajoub talking to the press after his release

Nayef Rajoub, the popular Islamic leader in the al-Khalil region, has been set free after spending 48 months of captivity in Zionist jails and detention camps for “taking part in illegal elections.”

Rajoub, who won more votes than any other legislative council member in the Hebron district in the 2006-elections, was appointed Minister of Religious Affairs in the tenth Palestinian Authority government.

However, a few weeks later, in June 2006, he was unceremoniously abducted by Israeli occupation soldiers and dumped in Israeli jails and dungeons, including the notorious concentration camp in the Negev desert, known as Kitziot.

An Israeli military court, a mere rubber stamp of the domestic Israeli security agency, or Shin Beth, sentenced Rajoub to four years in jail for “taking part in illegal elections” and for “affiliation with a terrorist organization.”

Israel views all acts of resistance, including non-violent activism, to its Nazi-like military occupation of Palestine as “acts of terror.”

In fact, the January-2006 election in the occupied Palestinian territories had been okayed both by Israel and the United States.

However, when Hamas emerged as the main winner in the internationally-monitored elections and the western-backed Fatah party lost, both Israel and the US lost their nerves and decided to impose draconian measures against the occupied Palestinian territories. One of the expressions of these measures is the 4-year-old blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Rajoub told reporters Sunday that the capture of an Israeli soldier (Gilad Shalit) by Palestinian freedom fighters in the Gaza Strip in 2006, was only a pretext used by Israel to justify the mass incarceration of Palestinian legislative members.

“The real motive behind our incarceration was Israel’s determination to undo and sabotage the outcome of the elections. Israel simply doesn’t want to see dignified leaders who uphold Palestinian national constants to be in the driver’s seat. Israel is only for democracy if democracy is proven expedient to maintaining the continuity of its evil occupation.”

Rajoub said the reason Israel was (and still is determined) to weaken Hamas had very little to do with the resistance issue.

“Israel knows very well that with Hamas gaining strength in occupied Palestine, the ceiling of Palestinian national expectations and aspirations will remain high and Israeli efforts to lower it will fail. This is the main reason why Israel is hell-bent on weakening the Islamic movement in Palestine. They simply would like to see an obsequious Palestinian leadership that can be bullied or cajoled to compromise Palestinian rights.”

Left to right: Hatem Kafeisha (MP), Nayef Rajoub (MP), Aziz Duweik (PLC Speaker)

Rajoub pointed out that he was carrying two messages from thousands of Palestinian political prisoners and resistance activists languishing in Israeli dungeons and detention camps:

“The first message is that the Palestinian people should place the prisoners’ issue at the top of the national agenda, otherwise the prisoners will return to their families in coffins. And the second message is that both Fatah and Hamas as well as the rest of Palestinian national factions must do all they can to restore national unity.

“National unity is not only a key condition for Palestinian steadfastness in the face of the evil occupiers, it is also a sin-qua-non for our national survival. We must not allow Israel to divide and conquer us.”

Rajoub told the Palestinian Information Center that Israel was the sole and only beneficiary from the continuing rift between Fatah Hamas.

He called on Fatah to put an end to its “ill will” and stop allowing itself to be duped and deceived by the US and Israel.

“Don’t be naïve, the U.S. and Israel won’t give you a state on a silver platter. They would like to see us kill each other and be hostile to each other, that is all. So don’t allow them to deceive you and trick you. Hamas is not Fatah’s enemy and Fatah is not Hamas’s enemy. Our enemy Israel which occupies our homeland and represses our people.”

Rajoub welcomed the reported willingness of Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to visit the Gaza Strip.

“Mahmoud Abbas shouldn’t act and behave as the leader of one faction. He should stand at the same distance from all Palestinian factions, especially Fatah and Hamas. Doesn’t he say he is the leader of all Palestinians?”

Nayef Rajoub was born in 1958 in Dura, 10 miles south west of al Khalil in the southern West Bank. In 1981, he obtained a BA in Sharia and Islamic studies from the prestigious Sharia college of the University of Jordan in Amman. In 2005, he received Master degree in Islamic Law from the University of Hebron in the West Bank.

For many years, Rajoub was especially known for his eloquent and popular Friday sermons at the Grand Mosque in Dura where he served as the imam for 23 years.

Indeed, it was, to a large extent, thanks to his activism and charisma that the Islamic movement in the southern West Bank was able to gain unprecedented preeminence in such a short time.

His influence and popularity eventually invited Israeli reprisals and vindictiveness, which explains the fact that he was served the harshest punishment of all Islamic MPs rounded up following the capture of Shalit in June, 2006.

In addition to the latest four years of imprisonment, Rajoub had spent more than 5 years in Israeli jails.

In 1991, Rajoub was also deported to Marj al Zuhur in Southern Lebanon, along with more than 400 other Palestinian Islamist activists at the instruction of former Israeli Prime Minister Isaac Rabin.

Nayef Rajoub is the younger brother of Jibril Rajoub, the former Fatah strongman who for several years was Yasser Arafat’s right-hand man by virtue of staying at the helm of the Preventive Security Force, the backbone of the American-backed Palestinian security apparatus.

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