Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

CALIFORNIA CHRONICLE: Faisal Husseini and Syrian Ambassador Walid Mualem Visit Los Angeles for Major Speeches

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

CALIFORNIA CHRONICLE: Faisal Husseini and Syrian Ambassador Walid Mualem Visit Los Angeles for Major Speeches

Article excerpt

CALIFORNIA CHRONICLE: Faisal Husseini and Syrian Ambassador Walid Mualem Visit Los Angeles for Major Speeches

The future of Jerusalem, the pending announcement of a Palestinian state and alternatives to the failed peace process were foremost on Faisal Husseini's mind when he made a whirlwind tour of Southern California May 13 to 17.

In an exclusive interview with the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, the Palestine National Authority's minister without portfolio in Jerusalem said that Jerusalem could become the black hole of the Middle East if the Israelis continue to block all Palestinian efforts for statehood.

Stating that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been allowed to fatally wound the peace process, Husseini said "all that is left is for the United States, the Palestinians or the Israelis to shoot the final bullet into it.

"At this point, the PNA must make the decision to announce the establishment of a Palestinian state no matter how Israel reacts," he added.

The Palestinians must first have worldwide support for statehood, Husseini stressed, pointing out that the Palestinian leadership is working hard to gain international approval.

"We are preparing for the inevitable reaction by the Israelis, who will invade our cities when we announce statehood" he said. "They will try to regain control of all our land and lay siege to it, but we will be ready"

Husseini is a living symbol of Jerusalem. His father, Abdel Qader Husseini, was the military leader of the Palestinians in 1948 and was killed that year in a pivotal battle with Israeli forces. His great-uncle, Haj Amin Husseini, was Jerusalem's Grand Mufti from 1921 to 1948. A family guest house in East Jerusalem is Orient House, a building in which Husseini receives foreign dignitaries, to the immense displeasure of the Israeli government. He headed the Palestinian team to the Middle East peace conference in Madrid and has been a central figure in peace talks with the Israelis.

"As Palestinians, we chose the peace process because we thought it was the best choice," he said. "But this is not the only option. Other decisions would be painful and expensive, but they are available. The Israelis should be aware that Netanyahu is dead wrong if he thinks peace is the only option. When we chose the peace process, we did so to save the blood of our children and the blood of Israeli children. We want a better future for all the people of the Middle East and everyone should understand this."

In addition to being interviewed by the Los Angeles Times and speaking at the University of California at Irvine, Husseini met with leaders of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation and appeared on Jewish network television. He also met with members of the Arab-American community at the Jerusalem Restaurant in Anaheim, where the program was in Arabic.

After listening to several very long poems, the crowd was restless. The softspoken diplomat commented that he felt as if he were back in Ramallah. He cautioned those on hand to learn English and participate in the American system. "How many of you here called the White House or wrote a letter to Hillary Clinton praising her for publicly stating there should be a Palestinian state? …

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