[Humaydi] Do you think that your recent statements have succeeded in dispelling the clouds of tension that loomed over the skies of relations between President Yasir ‘Arafat and the Lebanese Government?
[Qaddumi] Undoubtedly, many of the media interpretations of Abu-‘Ammar’s [‘Arafat’s] statements have not been correct. I do not think that ‘Arafat would ever contemplate harming any Arab country. Indeed, he has always been and remains anxious to safeguard his relations with the Arab countries particularly those connected with the political settlement [of the Arab-Israeli conflict]. Furthermore, Abu-‘Ammar holds the fondest of memories about the Lebanese people for embracing the Palestinian revolution for numerous years.
[Humaydi] Do you mean that Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al- Hariri has gone somewhat too far in his criticism of ‘Arafat?
[Qaddumi] We had hoped that there would have been no statements. When I discussed this matter with Abu-‘Ammar, he gave instructions to issue further statements. We can never do anything to harm Lebanon particularly as Israel’s aim is to poison the Arab climate.
[Humaydi] Did you clarify the situation during your meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shar’?
[Qaddumi] When we come to Syria we do so knowing that Syria is the stronghold of the Arab struggle. So we discuss all matters, particularly as Syria is keen on doing all it can to serve the Palestinian cause.
[Humaydi] Have you discussed the question of a possible visit by Abu-‘Ammar to Syria?
[Qaddumi] We will choose the proper time for Abu-‘Ammar’s visit so that it yields the desired fruits. We have talked frankly about this matter with our Syrian brothers.
[Humaydi] Do you think the freeze through which the peace process is going at present provides an adequate climate for ‘Arafat’s visit?
[Qaddumi] This depends on the evaluations of both the Syrian and Palestinian sides. Damascus always welcomes the presence of Palestinian leaders and at no time whatsoever has it objected to the presence of Palestinian leaders. Indeed, Abu-‘Ammar started his revolution from Syria’s bosom.
[Humaydi] What role did you play in the visit [to Syria] by the delegation of 1948 Palestinians [from Israel]?
[Qaddumi] I am in constant touch with the brothers in the inside. They had a strong desire to visit Syria. I conveyed this desire to the [Syrian] brothers in many ways and continued to do so until Syria agreed to welcome them.
[Humaydi] Will the next stage be to invite the Israeli left?
[Qaddumi] That is up to the Syrian brothers.
[Humaydi] What did you discuss with the Palestinian opposition in Damascus?
[Qaddumi] The brother members of the opposition who operate under he banners of the PLO, the Executive Committee, and the Palestine National Council have the right to know all the details concerning the developments taking place. On our part, we are anxious to coordinate positions with those in the outside, because the [Palestinian] National Authority is far from them by virtue of its preoccupation with the negotiations.
[Humaydi] What would you say about the “initiative” by Ramadan ‘Abdallah Shallah, leader of the Islamic Jihad organization, concerning his readiness to join the PLO?
[Qaddumi] We welcome them, and this is only natural. For these brothers form part of the national movement and consequently they should be included within the framework of the Palestinian mechanism.
[Humaydi] Even despite the fact that they are branded as terrorists by some quarters?
[Qaddumi] I reject such charges against them. The Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) are parts of the national movement and it is their right to resist the occupation in whatever way they deem fit.
[Humaydi] Including the launching of suicide-military operations?
[Qaddumi] We differ with them over the methods they use. You yourself know that our movement Fatah is a fedayeen organization. It is Israel which created the current situations and poisoned the skies of the occupied Arab territories, and consequently it has been the cause of such actions. We do not want at all to see harm coming to civilians. But, unfortunately, these poisoned climates created by Netanyahu have led to such actions.
[Humaydi] The Islamic Jihad leader set the condition of breaking the link between the PLO and the Palestinian Authority. What are your conditions?
[Qaddumi] We are negotiating with them without any previous commitments. For the PLO is the wider framework and so we should listen to what everyone says and discuss their views.
[Humaydi] Do you think the Palestinian Authority’s arresting Hamas and Jihad elements would lead to an inter-Palestinian clash?
[Qaddumi] I do not think so, because the brothers in the three sides realize that internecine fighting is a very grave matter. However bad the relations among them become, none of the sides will embark on internecine fighting. May I point out in this regard that the three sides have had dialogues in the past and agreed that the Hamas and Jihad elements would not stage any operations from Gaza and would not announce any operations from there.
[Humaydi] Do you think the [recent] failure to claim responsibility for operations was due to this understanding among the various sides?
[Qaddumi] Nobody knows who carried out the [Jerusalem] double-suicide operation. It seems Israel has been exploiting this ambiguity to level charges against several Arab countries so that it can launch aggression on them and to justify its freezing of the peace process.