Interview with WB Fatah Leader Hussein Al-Sheikh

Translated by Sa’ed Bannoura-IMEMC

Q1: How do you interpret the announcement made by Arafat to form a unified leadership?

A: This is only an old idea presented to the National and Islamic movements in order to discuss and conduct consultations, so far…no agreement have been reached about it, or concerning ways to implement it.

Q2: Do you mean by a unified leadership, a leadership similar to the one formed in the first Intifada?

A: No…of course not, President Arafat means a leadership which works under the Palestinian authority and not over it, and over its rules; we understand clearly that the unified leadership will be a form and a part of the work of the P.A.

Q3: But…the origin of the idea of a unified authority, does it mean forming a leadership which is responsible of the authority itself?

A: No, never… we mean forming a leading branch, which is part of the authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

Q4: Did you reach an understanding to form this leadership, in the way you just presented?

A4: This is not the first time in which such ideas are presented, we discussed it in Cairo…several times, but the talks stopped after we had differences, and disagreements concerning the authorities of the different departments and the issue of relative representation in the P.A.

Q5: What would be the percentage of Fattah and Hamas and other fractions in the unified leadership?

A5: Hamas demanded a high percentage…(then he backed up and refrained from continuing his reply… I don’t want to say what did Hamas demand, but…we disagreed on this issue.

Q6: Ok, what is the size of Hamas in your opinion?

A6: I can’t really predict, the only way to know is through elections, without elections, no one can know the percentage which his fraction holds or the percentage of other fractions.

Q7: But…until elections time, what is the percentage of Hamas?

A7: I think it less than what the brothers in Hamas say.

Q8: I will assume that they demanded 40%, and that Fattah does not want to give them more than 20%?

A8: I will not answer this question…but I have to admit that this is a major obstacle.

Q9: Then…you won’t agree, and there isn’t going to be any unified leadership before the elections…if the elections are conducted… there is no need for a unified leadership, there will be an elected one?

A9: Well… I think this is logical, yes… but the obstacle is still there.

Q10: What is the solution then?

A10: First, we have to agree on the principle of making Hamas part of the leadership… and part of the decision, after that…Fattah should do some concessions, and in return Hamas should do some concessions too, this is the only way we can reach an understanding.

Q11: So, would you give Hamas 30%?

A11: I will not answer this question.

Q12: Ok… do you agree that Hamas is the second biggest fraction concerning size, power and activities?

A12: Yes, I agree, Hamas is the second biggest Fraction.

Q13: And Fattah is the first?

A14: Of course…Fattah is the biggest fraction.