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February 08, 1991 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-02-08

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support for
Saddam Hussein
has sidetracked
any impetus for
a West Bank
state, at least
for now


Foreign Correspondent

he most senior Pales-
tinian leader in the
Israeli-occupied ter-
ritories, Faisal Husseini,
hastily summoned the media
to his home one night last
week to deny that he had
described the Iraqi missile at-
tacks on Israel as a "blessed
The reason for the urgency
in insisting that he had been
misquoted by an Italian
magazine was the fear that,
with emotions and tensions
running high, the Israeli au-
thorities would seize the op-
portunity to jail or deport
Whether the quotation
was accurate or not cut little
ice with Jerusalem Mayor
Teddy Kollek, who had re-
cently engaged Mr. Husseini
in a political dialogue.
"Even if you did not say
the things attributed to
you," the mayor wrote to Mr.
Husseini, "I was not sur-
prised by them. This is not a
matter of phrasing but a line
of thought which, to my
sorrow, is held by a number
of Palestinian people."
At the same time,
Shulamit Aloni, civil liber-
ties leader and a powerful
advocate of Palestinian
rights, cabled her
displeasure to Mr. Husseini:
"All the dialogues between
us and the Palestinians
become irrelevant when the
tyrant of Baghdad does
everything to destroy us and
you make common cause
with him."
To reinforce the disap-
pointment of those Israelis
who were still hoping that a

tiny window of opportunity
still remained for Palestin-
ian-Jewish co-existence, Pa-
lestinian intellectual and
ideologue Sari Nusseibeh
was detained three days
According to the Israeli
authorities, Mr. Nusseibeh,
a professor of medieval
Islamic philosophy at Bir
Zeit University who is close-
ly associated with Yassir
Arafat's Fatah wing of the
PLO, had supplied informa-
tion about the missile at-
tacks on Israel to Iraqi intel-
Details about precisely
where the missiles land is
subject to strict censorship
as such knowledge would
allow Iraq to recalibrate
their systems of terror.
According to Israel's
Deputy Foreign Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr.
Nusseibeh had as good as
guided the Iraqi missiles to
their targets.
He was sentenced to six
months in prison, a term
since cut back to three mon-
ths by a judge who ruled that

the army had no reason to
hold him any longer than
the duration of the Persian
Gulf war. The judge decided
that would not be longer
than three months.
While insisting that Mr.
Nusseibeh's detention was
based on security rather
than political grounds,
Israeli officials regretted
that he could neither be
charged nor tried: their
evidence, they said, would
expose their sources of in-
formation and could en-
danger lives.
Palestinians in the oc-
cupied territories, who
threatened an armed upris-
ing against Israel if the
allied coalition attacked
Iraq, have been under cons-
tant curfew since the start of
the Gulf war and it is
difficult to gauge their mood
with any degree of precision.
All indications, however,
suggest that their support
for Iraq and their ardor for
its leader have been
strengthened by the missile
attacks on Israeli population

While the Palestinians
have overwhelmingly
obeyed the curfew and heed-
ed the Israeli warning that
"in war, the rules are diff-
erent," they have continued
voicing their pro-Iraqi sen-
Thousands have, quite lit-
erally, been shouting it from
the rooftops. "Allahu
Akhbar" (God is great) is the
cry that goes up throughout
the West Bank as Iraq's
Scud missiles hurtle through
the night sky toward Tel Aviv
and Haifa.
They say their fear of be-
ing hurt is less than their joy
at seeing the Israelis en-
Politically and econ-
omically, the Palestinians
are on the ropes. The loss of
remittances from Palestin-
ian workers in the Gulf
alone is calculated to be
around $1.4 billion a year.
Whatever spin they put on
it, the Palestinians cannot
escape the paradox that
while they passionately sup-
port Saddam. Hussein's in-
vasion of Kuwait, they op-

pose, with equal passion,
Israel's occupation of the
West Bank and Gaza.
Their predicament has
been boldly underscored by
the stream of European poli-
ticians, traditionally the
most passionate champions
of the Palestinian cause,
who have made the
pilgrimage to Jerusalem
over the past two weeks to
declare their solidarity with
Not only was the Palestin-
ian case not made but both
the Germans and the Dutch
stated clearly that PLO
leader Arafat, by urging his
followers to enlist in Saddam
Hussein's army, had dis-
qualified himself from the
peace process. Britain has
pointedly ended its in-
sistence on PLO participa-
tion in discussions about the
future dispensation of the

All that, of course, may
change when the dust has
settled in the Gulf. In the
meantime, however, the Pa-
lestinians, like their Iraqi


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