Wednesday, October 18, 2006
By Khalid Amayreh
In the West Bank
"Ramallah - Palestinian Deputy-Prime Minister and Minister of Education Nasseruddin Al-Sha’er on Monday, 16 October, called on Palestinians to show more resistance and defiance in the face of the harsh American-led sanctions aimed at starving Palestinians.
Speaking during a press conference in the Israeli-occupied town of Ramallah, Sha’er argued that there were two approaches to overcome the present national ordeal facing the Palestinian people. “Either we surrender completely and lose our dignity and our rights and our honor and our holy places; or we respect ourselves so that others will respect us and treat us in a dignified manner as human beings.” Sha’er said he was too well aware of the harsh criminal tactics being imposed on the Palestinian people and aimed at blockading them, starving them and barring them from food and work. However, the former Najah University professor said Palestinians must never lose their humanity and dignity in the face of the “criminal conspiracy.”
Sha’er, the highest-ranking government official in the West Bank, urged Palestinian factions to manage “legitimate differences” in a civilized and dignified manner without ever resorting to acts of vandalism and actual or verbal violence. “I don’t think, and I think you agree with me, that these acts of savagery and vandalism are a legitimate expression of discontent or protest,” he said in a clear reference to the torching by Fatah activists of government buildings in Ramallah. He said that the hope for national unity was still open, adding, “Don’t you believe those who would tell you that the doors were closed.”
Sha'er, who was recently released by the Israeli army after two months of abduction, appealed to striking teachers to return to classes right after the Eidul Fitr holiday, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, which occurs either on Sunday or Monday next week. “I know that the strike is a legitimate right, but we must also pay attention to the consequences". “You know that a national disaster will occur if schools are not opened. What will be the fate of the universities and colleges? What will be the fate of the 12th graders who will graduate? What will happen to the entire education process?” Sha’er appealed to the striking teachers to explore additional and alternative mechanisms to voice their legitimate grievances. He also denied rumors that he would take punitive measures against striking teachers, saying, “The law is the arbiter between you and me.”
The Palestinian deputy premier urged Arab states to shoulder their moral, religious and nationalist responsibilities toward their Palestinian brothers. He appealed to any given Arab state, without naming any, to sponsor the Palestinian education process “in these difficult times.”
He said efforts were being under way to pay government employees and civil servants a salary or advanced payment before the end of the month of Ramadan. However, he said there was no guarantee that salaries will be paid due to the sanctions. “Financial responsibility is a huge national burden that should be carried out by both the PA presidency and the government.”
Turning to the international community, Sha’er said all the Palestinians were seeking was freedom and dignity. “Give us our freedom, and we will give you what you want. We are human beings like you; you can’t treat us this way and expect us to give you what you want.” He added that the Palestinian government never thought of creating trouble in the Middle East or undermining regional stability. “All we want is freedom and our rights to a homeland like the rest of humanity. We are not asking for too much.”"