Faisal Husseini, who died of a heart attack in May 2001, was a darling of the world media, hailed as a "moderate voice of peace." But recent evidence suggests that Husseini -- the PLO representative in Jerusalem and a PA minister -- was actively working against a peaceful resolution to the Mideast conflict.
In a speech in Beirut in April 2001, Husseini said that "there is a difference between the strategic goal of the Palestinian people, which is not willing to give up even one grain of Palestinian soil, and the political [tactical] effort that has to do with the [present] balance of power and with the nature of the present international system. The latter is a different effort than the former.
"We may lose or win [tactically] but our eyes will continue to aspire to the strategic goal, namely, to Palestine from the river to the sea. Whatever we get now cannot make us forget this supreme truth."
On his way to Kuwait, where he died of a heart attack in May, Husseini gave an interview -- which turned to be his last -- to the Egyptian daily "Al-Arabi." Following are excerpts from the interview, published on June 24, 2001.
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Q: What is happening now, unfortunately, is a natural consequence of Arafat's signing the Oslo Accords which did not explicitly state that the settlements should be removed, or even [their construction] halted... and did not explicitly determine the future of Jerusalem and the right of return... but -- among other mistakes you recently admit -- it did explicitly state that the PA must confiscate weapons from Palestinian civilians...
Husseini: Following the signing of the Oslo Accords... I said three things: First: following a long period of "pregnancy" we brought a child into the world [the Oslo Accords] who is smaller, weaker, and uglier than what we had hoped for. However, despite it all, this is still our child, and we must nurture, strengthen and develop it so that he is able to stand on his own two feet.
Second, we are the Jews of the 21st Century. Meaning, we the Palestinians will be the Jews of the early [previous] century. They infiltrated our country using various methods; using all kinds of passports, and they suffered greatly in the process. They even had to face humiliation but they did it all for one goal: to enter our country and root themselves in it prior to our expulsion out of it. We must act the in the same way they did. [We must] return [to the land], settle it, and develop new roots in our land from where we were expelled; whatever the price may be.
Third, the [ancient] Greek Army was unable to break into Troy due to [internal] disputes and disagreements [among themselves]. The Greek forces started retreating one after the other, and the Greek king ended up facing the walls of Troy all by himself, and he too suffered from illnesses and [internal] disputes, and ended up leading a failed assault on Troy's walls.
[Following these events] the people of Troy climbed on top of the walls of their city and could not find any traces of the Greek army, except for a giant wooden horse. They cheered and celebrated thinking that the Greek troops were routed, and while retreating left a harmless wooden horse as spoils of war. So they opened the gates of the city and brought in the wooden horse. We all know what happened next.
Had the U.S. and Israel not realized, before Oslo, that all that was left of the Palestinian National movement and the Pan-Arab movement was a wooden horse called Arafat or the PLO, they would never have opened their fortified gates and let it inside their walls.
Despite the fact that we entered these walls in order to build, unlike the Greeks who entered them in order to destroy, I now tell you all, all these to whom I spoke in a secret meeting during the days of Oslo: "Climb into the horse and don't question what type of material the horse is made of. Climb into the horse, and we shall transform your climbing into that horse into a beginning of a building era, rather than an era of the end of hope."
And indeed, there are those who climbed onto the horse and are [now] inside [the PA territory] whether they supported the Oslo Accords or not.
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Q: "But the horse began to ignore criticism from the people, both from those who supported Oslo and those who opposed it. [It ignored] criticism about the true democracy that should lead the horse and about the horse's corruption."
Husseini: Your words remind me of the famous meeting we had with all the Palestinian factions three years following Arafat and the PLO's return to Gaza... The debate revolved around the same issues you are raising -- i.e., democracy, corruption, etc.
In that meeting -- and those who attended are still alive and can attest to it -- I asked to speak. I told everyone: three years ago I said, "climb into the horse," and everyone entered into the horse and the horse entered into the walled-in [area]. Now, the time has come for us to say: "Come out of the horse and start working. Don't stay inside the horse and don't waist time and energy while you are inside the horse arguing whether this was a good horse or not. Look, it is thanks to this horse that you were able to get into the walled-in city."
...the Oslo agreement, or any other agreement, is just a temporary procedure, or just a step towards something bigger...
So come down out of the horse and start working for the goal for which you entered the horse to begin with. In my opinion, the Intifada itself is the coming down out of the horse. Rather than getting into the old arguments... this effort [the Intifada] could have been much better, broader, and more significant had we made it clearer to ourselves that the Oslo agreement, or any other agreement, is just a temporary procedure, or just a step towards something bigger...
Praise Allah, by now we have all come out of the horse, those who were with Arafat and those from the opposition. Personally, I never had any complaints regarding the fact that they entered the horse while being opposed to it. However, I would have complaints had they stayed inside the horse and never came out of it. Now that we all came out of the horse, I ask of you and of all journalists to lay aside all the analyses of past events, all the old disputes, and judge people on the basis of what they are actually doing now... our slogan from now on should be "the Intifada is always right...
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Q: What are the borders of the Palestinian state you are referring to, and what kind of 'Jerusalem' would you accept as the capital of your state?
Husseini: With this question you are dragging me into talking about what we refer to as our "strategic" goals and our "political" goals, or the phased goals. The "strategic" goals are the "higher" goals, the "long-term goals," or the "unwavering goals," the goals that are based on solid Pan-Arab historic rights and principles. Whereas the "political" goals are those goals which were set for a temporary timeframe, considering the [constraints of] the existing international system, the balance of power, our own abilities, and other considerations which "vary" from time to time.
When we are asking all the Palestinian forces and factions to look at the Oslo Agreement and at other agreements as "temporary" procedures, or phased goals, this means that we are ambushing the Israelis and cheating them. However, the truth is that we are doing exactly what they are doing. The proof for that is that they are aware of, and are not trying to hide, the fact that there is nothing that unites them more around the territory which extends from the Nile to the Euphrates, than their slogan, which was taken from the Torah, and reads: "These are the borders of the greater land of Israel.'"
If, for some reason, they had to temporarily declare their state over "a part" of the greater land of Israel, they would publicly declare that this is their "political" strategy, which they will have to temporarily accept due to international circumstances. On the other hand, their "higher strategy" is always "The Greater Land of Israel.
Our ultimate goal is [still] the liberation of all historical Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] sea.
We are [acting] exactly like them. In 1947, in accordance with [the UN] Partition Plan, they decided to declare statehood on 55 percent of the land of Palestine, which they later increased to 78 percent during the War of 1948, and then again [increased it] to 100 percent during the War of 1967. Despite all that, they never attempted to make secret of their long-term goal, which is "Greater Israel" from the Nile to the Euphrates.
Similarly, if we agree to declare our state over what is now only 22 percent of Palestine, meaning the West Bank and Gaza -- our ultimate goal is [still] the liberation of all historical Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] sea, even if this means that the conflict will last for another thousand years or for many generations.
In short, we are exactly like they are. We distinguish the strategic, long-term goals from the political phased goals, which we are compelled to temporarily accept due to international pressure. If you are asking me as a Pan-Arab nationalist what are the Palestinian borders according to the higher strategy, I will immediately reply: "from the river to the sea."
Palestine in its entirety is an Arab land, the land of the Arab nation, a land no one can sell or buy, and it is impossible to remain silent while someone is stealing it, even if this requires time and even [if it means paying] a high price."
If you are asking me, as a man who belongs to the Islamic faith, my answer is also "from the river to the sea," the entire land is an Islamic Waqf which can not be bought or sold, and it is impossible to remain silent while someone is stealing it...
If you are asking me as an ordinary Palestinian, from the "inside" or from the Diaspora, you will get the same answer and without any hesitations. However, what I am able to achieve and live on right now, due to [constraints of] the international system, is not, of course, Palestine "from the river to the sea." In order for us to fulfill all of our dreams regarding Palestine, we must, first of all, wake up and realize where we are standing. On the other hand, if we will continue to behave as if we are still dreaming, we will not find a place to put our feet on...
As I once said in the past: our eyes must continue to focus on the higher goal. The real danger is that I might forget [it], and while advancing towards my short-term goal I might turn my back on my long-term goal, which is the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea...