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At-Home with Gila Svirsky
26 November 2000
Subject: Views of Faisal Husseini
Yesterday, under the auspices of Gush Shalom, I was part of a group of 200 Israelis who met with Faisal Husseini in his offices at Orient House to discuss the situation. Mr. Husseini, a high-ranking member of both the PLO and the Palestinian National Authority, is always careful not to stray from official Palestinian positions. He first spoke in Hebrew, as a gesture of good will, and then switched to English. Here are quotations from his words, from notes that I wrote as he spoke:
Meetings like this are even more important during days like this, days of violence. We must have more such meetings on such days. It is important for you to know that this is a war against occupation, not a war against Israel or against the Jews. We are witnessing a struggle for the independence of Palestine, and this [independence] is the only way to bring real peace to the Middle East. An independent Palestinian state is the key to cooperation with all the states in the region...
All problems have solutions. In Jerusalem, we can create a symbol of how to work together cooperatively. It will be a free, open, accessible city
no borders though sovereignty clearly demarcated but open to all in both directions...
We must accept the principle of the 1967 borders. This must be the basis for the agreement. Then afterwards, we can solve the individual problems that might exist... [This is clearly a reference to the possibility of Israel retaining some settlements, though he did not refer to the suggestion made for the exchange of land to offset this.]
The refugee issue, I know, raises fears among the Israelis. If Israel will accept on principle the right of return, then we Palestinians will implement it in a way that Israeli fears will not materialize... [These are buzz words that mean that Israel must accept the principle, but that there will be no mass influx of refugees.]
We are at the last 100 meters of the climb of Everest. At this point it is so cold, so difficult, so vague
but we can see the target. Together we can cross the last 100 meters.
Many Israelis spoke in support of these concepts, including Uri Avnery, Latif Dori, Moshe Amirav, Yehudit Harel, and virtually everyone. The other senior Palestinians present spoke similarly: Ziad abu Zayyad, Ahmed Ghneim, and Dyala Husseini.
Later that evening, the Israeli state TV news reported that Gush Shalom supporters visited Faisal Husseini in Orient House and agreed completely with the Palestinian position. I was incensed that they had framed it as if we are supporters of the enemy. It would have been more accurate to say, Supporters of peace from Israel and Palestine met and agreed together on the principles of a just and pragmatic solution.
January 1991: War Is a Crime
March 1996: Bombs, Revenge, and One Iota of Hope
2 Nov 1996: Hand in Hand in Hebron
4 Apr 1997: Children Still Alive and Abdallah
25 May 1998: So We Wont Die in Any More Wars
10 July 1998: Lena Doesnt Live Here Anymore
2 Aug 1998: Lenas New Home... Destroyed
3 Jan 1999: Rifle Grenade #400
9 July 1999: A Housewarming for Peace
23 Jan 2000: The Politics of the Tree
18 Oct 2000: On Violence by Israeli Arabs
10 Nov 2000: Peace Efforts in Israel
22 Nov 2000: We Refuse to Be Enemies
23 Nov 2000: Meeting of Women MKs for Peace
26 Nov 2000: Views of Faisal Husseini
28 Nov 2000: Lack of coverage for womens events
1 Dec 2000: Principles and Action
8 Dec 2000: Women in Black today
30 Dec 2000: On the Way to Crowning Jerusalem with Peace
Letters from Jerusalem, 2001
Letters from Jerusalem, 2002
Letters from Jerusalem, 2003
New & recent letters from Jerusalem (2004)
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