Mystery Surrounds Faisal Husseini's Last' Interview

A month ago, on June 24, the Egyptian weekly Al-Arabi published an interview Faisal Husseini gave to its reporter Shafiq Ahmad Ali. "This was the final conversation with him before his death," states the sub-heading of the article.

Danny Rubinstein
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Danny Rubinstein

A month ago, on June 24, the Egyptian weekly Al-Arabi published an interview Faisal Husseini gave to its reporter Shafiq Ahmad Ali. "This was the final conversation with him before his death," states the sub-heading of the article.

The content of the interview suggests Husseini was uncompromising to the end. "Our final aim is the liberation of all of historical Palestinian, from the river to the sea, even if the conflict continues for a thousand years, or for many more generations," he was quoted as saying.

In the interview, Husseini characterized the Oslo accords as a Palestinian Trojan horse that established the PLO and its chairman Yasser Arafat in the territories - an ambush of sorts that paved the way to the present Intifada.

In the past Husseini made some comments that sounded harsh to the Israeli public, but in this interview it appeared the moderate mask of Husseini was finally lifted. His comments were distributed widely and attracted great interest.

The Middle East Media and Research Institute, with branches in Washington, London, and Jerusalem, translated and distributed the interview - accurately. It also noted that Al-Arabi is a Nasserist weekly. Its readership is limited - some say no more than 2,000 copies are printed. Its positions are well known. This is an Egyptian magazine that refers to the late Anwar Sadat as a traitor and that has published past photographs of Shimon Peres dressed in Nazi uniform.

It's a little difficult to deal with an interview of a man who has died. He is not around to respond, confirm, deny or plead "out of context." However, the magazine says it has a recording of the interview with Husseini, done in Beirut on the eve of his departure to Kuwait, where he had a fatal heart attack.

Also present during the interview was Husseini's brother, Razi, who works at the PLO office in Amman, and whose entry to Israel to attend his brother's memorial service, was blocked last week by the security services.

However, in Husseini's offices at Orient House is the time-table for his movements during his last few months. There is general puzzlement about the fact that Husseini did not travel to Kuwait via Beirut.

His senior aide, Sharif al-Husseini, says they left for Amman via Ben Gurion international airport on May 28, and continued on to Kuwait the next day. Husseini gave a television interview before being found dead in his hotel room on May 31.

In the final months before his death Husseini traveled extensively. In March he was in Damascus, in April in London where he met Yossi Beilin, and then he went on to Tehran. He also visited America for a conference, with Israelis, at Harvard University.

The last time Husseini visited Beirut was in mid-March. In other words, only during that visit, three months earlier, could he have given this interview to Al-Arabi. This may be substantiated by the fact that Husseini had made similar but more moderate comments as those appearing in the Egyptian magazine during an address at a conference of Arab attorneys, and in an interview with the pro-Syrian newspaper, Al-Safir.

It appears then, that the journalist Ahmed Ali sat on the interview for three months and only after Husseini died did the so-called "last ever interview" appear.

During his final months, Husseini often compared Zionist strategy with that of the Palestinians. At a meeting with Israeli journalists in Ramallah, he said that if the Israelis would not give up their dream for control of the West Bank, the Palestinians would not give up theirs on Jaffa and Haifa.

For the Arab public Husseini phrased his opinions in a much tougher way, saying that history has taught that the Jews have a strategy for a whole Land of Israel - and it is therefore necessary for the Palestinians to have a similar strategy on a Palestine that stretches from the river to the sea.



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