Bishara: Israel not serious about peace

Former Balad chairman accused of spying urges Fatah, Hamas to unite.

azmi bishara (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
azmi bishara
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Former Balad chairman and MK Azmi Bishara accused Israel of not being serious about peacemaking with Arab countries in remarks published Saturday by a Jordanian newspaper. The once prominent Knesset member has been on the run for weeks ever since Israel accused him of spying for the Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War. "Does Israeli society want to live in peace with Arabs in the region? Of course not," Bishara told the ad-Dustour newspaper in a wide-ranging interview. Bishara fled Israel and resigned his Knesset seat in April amid the espionage accusations, charging authorities of persecuting him for his strident criticism of Israel. According to investigations carried out by the Shin Bet and Israel Police, the former MK allegedly transferred to Hizbullah information, predictions, assessments and recommendations about the political echelon, the IDF and the Israeli public during the war. Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah has denied that Bishara ever spied for the group. "Israel rejects the Arab peace initiative and aims to snatch concessions, especially on the right of return and Jerusalem," Bishara told the semi-independent daily. The Arab peace initiative, originally launched in 2002 and revived at an Arab summit in March, promises full peace with Arab nations in return for Israel's withdrawal from territories captured in the 1967 war and the creation of a Palestinian state. It also calls for a "just solution" to the issue of Palestinian refugees. The US and Israel have said the plan could be a basis for reviving the Arab-Israeli peace process, but Israel has also expressed reservations over many of its provisions, including the call to solve the Palestinian refugee issue. Bishara cautioned the Arabs against peacemaking with Israel. "Don't present more proposals," he urged. "Don't go into settlements that would lead to more conflicts because Israel doesn't want any settlement and it doesn't want to deliver on the right of return and other issues," he said, referring to Jewish settlement building and the construction of the West Bank security barrier. He called on the Fatah and Hamas to "coordinate on the political struggle and the methods of resistance," warning that recent factional infighting was undermining the Palestinian cause. "There are Palestinians who are miscalculating and sacrificing the unity of the Palestinian people for unclear issues," he said, without elaborating. Bishara said in the interview that he didn't miss Israel. "I don't like Israel," the former lawmaker said. "I never liked sitting in the Knesset. It was a sacrifice and a concession I made with myself," Bishara added.