Jibril Rajoub, a senior Palestinian Authority official who is frequently characterized as a "moderate" in both the Western and Israeli media, said on Lebanese television that if the Palestinians had a nuclear weapon they would have nuked Israel "this morning."
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) discovered and translated to English the interview Rajoub gave to Lebanon’s Al Mayadeen TV on April 30. Rajoub also posted the video clip to his own Facebook page, according to PMW.
When the interviewer referred to peace talks with Israel as “the negotiations game,” Rajoub suggested that the Palestinian Authority [PA] engages in negotiations because it does not have the military strength to defeat Israel by force.
"I swear that if we had a nuke, we'd have used it this very morning," he said.
He also said the Palestinian Authority would consider returning to the negotiating table only if Israel agrees to a list of Palestinian preconditions including freezing construction in Jerusalem, in West Bank settlements and freeing Palestinian prisoners, some of whom are serving sentences for terrorist acts.
Rajoub is President of the Palestine Olympic Committee and serves as Deputy Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee.
Israel Today explains why Rajoub’s nuclear threat strikes such a sensitive chord for Israelis, particularly in light of Iran’s nuclear quest:
There is a very good reason for Israel taking the Iran nuclear threat so seriously. There are a lot of people in this region, many of them holding positions of authority, who would like nothing more than to use a nuclear weapon against Israel, the consequences be damned.[…]
This revelation validates one of Israel's chief concerns in the peace process - that in the absence of actually being educated for peace and coexistence, the inhabitants of an independent Palestinian state will, as a first order of business, work toward acquiring the military means to engage in renewed warfare against Israel.
In his Palestine Olympic Committee capacity last summer, Rajoub thanked International Olympic Committee officials for agreeing to not honor during the opening ceremony in London the 11 Israeli athletes slain during the 1972 Munich Olympics by Palestinian terrorists.
In the 1970s and 80s, Rajoub served 17 years in Israeli prison for terrorist activity.
Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik of PMW write:
Senior PA officials often state that avoiding violent confrontation or war with Israel is only temporarily, due to the PA's inability to take on such a conflict. They claim that negotiations with Israel are the right course of action for now, because conditions are not right for violence.
[Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas himself has also said on several occasions that if the Arab nations would begin a war against Israel, "Palestine" would join them.
According to the Commentator, a pro-Israel website, Rajoub is a signatory to the Geneva Initiative, a project that promotes a two-state solution. The group’s tagline is “An Israeli-Palestinian Initiative to End the Conflict.”
Its mission statement reads in part, “After a century of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, the Geneva Initiative offers a real and mutually agreed upon possibility for ending the conflict between the two sides and obtaining a mutually acceptable peace that guarantees the vital national interests of both sides.”
Rajoub was featured several years ago in a video clip promoting the campaign, where he stated “I am your partner” in Hebrew.
“There is a consensus in the Arab world to recognize the existence of Israel in return for an end to occupation,” he added then.
The Commentator provided translation of more excerpts from Rajoub’s Lebanese TV interview: “If you ask me as a Palestinian, I say — our battle is with the Israeli occupation. Our main enemy, not [just] as Palestinians but as Arabs and Muslims, is Israel and the Israeli occupation.”
“If [Arab] mobilization would begin for the liberation of Jerusalem; if money [would be spent] and swords drawn in the face of the Zionist enemy, that would be great,” Rajoub said according to the Commentator.
Here is the excerpt of the Rajoub interview that PMW translated:
Lebanese TV host: "The American [John Kerry] came to the PA. They are talking about reviving negotiations, about getting back to the table with the Israelis... Will you go back to the negotiations game?"
Jibril Rajoub: "There is no going back to negotiations unless the source of authority is the international resolutions, with a time frame and with the freezing of all unilateral Israeli steps: Jerusalem, the fence, settlements and prisoners."
Host: "You've heard Israel's refusal."
Jibril Rajoub: "That doesn't matter. Listen. We as yet don't have a nuke, but I swear that if we had a nuke, we'd have used it this very morning."
[Al-Mayadeen TV (Lebanon), April 30, 2013]
Watch the clip here, courtesy of PMW: