NEWS

Divergent strategies stymie unified leadership

At what stage are talks on a unified Palestinian leadership with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PLO? We have discussed the issue officially at the level of the PLO. I have set in motion the effort to include all organizations, including Hamas, in a unified leadership for our movement. But Hamas disagrees with the Oslo agreements, with the very existence of the state of Israel and persists with suicide attacks.Can there be a unified leadership with two completely different strategies? The problems (between the PLO and the Islamists) predated Hamas, from the time of the Muslim Brotherhood. But those problems did not prevent us from having a democratic representation, for example, on the Palestinian National Council, from the first time we returned to Gaza from exile, after Oslo. In fact, at the meeting which was attended by then-US President Bill Clinton, we had invited two rabbis from Israel, to Clinton’s great surprise. We are trying to create a unified leadership that our movement needs more than ever. But in order for an organization – Hamas or any other – to take part, it has to accept the unified strategy of the Palestinian Authority and the obligations that involves. In many Middle Eastern states, a sector of the Arab world has expressed its disappointment with their government’s unwillingness or inability to express their support for the Palestinian intifada, and for the Iraqi opposition. How do you explain that? I would not say it was a question of unwillingness or inability. Don’t forget that all governments in the region are under intense pressure from the USA, above all from the so-called «Greater Middle East Initiative» – a Middle East which in some strange way reaches as far as Afghanistan and Central Asia. We have to take these pressures into very serious consideration when making any judgments.