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Fatah Central Committee Deputy Secretary General On Abbas And Hamas Relationship


And now we turn to Sabri Saidam. He's the deputy secretary general of the Fatah Central Committee, the party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Mr. Saidam joins us now from Ramallah. Thank you so much for being with us.

SABRI SAIDAM: You're most welcome. Thanks for having me.

SIMON: Fatah and Hamas have been rivals. Fatah, of course, is the ruling party. Did they support Hamas's actions recently, firing rockets into Israel?

SAIDAM: Well, let me start by saying that the root cause of the problem is the prolongation of the Israeli occupation. Had it not been for occupation, you wouldn't have seen the scenes we are seeing now and then. And the repetition of history is only happening because U.N. resolutions remain unimplemented. And this is a reality which Israel continues to play the role of a victim when it is the one instigating violence, and it is the one seeding in occupation by inching away more Palestinian territory, building more settlements and expanding the wall of separation between the different territories, turning the Palestinian livelihood almost impossible and killing the demography of Palestine by expediting the extradition - or the importation, rather - of more and more settlers into expansion or expanded settlements, whereby making life difficult for Palestinians.

SIMON: Mr. Saidam, now, let me follow up this way. Hamas says it is the true defender of the Palestinian people because they act while Fatah talks. How do you answer that?

SAIDAM: Let me say that, you know, when you have injustice, you would expect that the true defender will be the international community that's witnessing the plight of the Palestinians for decades on end. It's important that this - the last war is more of a call for action on the part of the U.S. and the international community to say, enough is enough. We can do with less bullets, and we can do with more constructive connections and coexistence with Israel. After all, it has proven - or the conflict has proven, rather, over the years that no party is capable of throwing the other into the sea. So eventually there will be sanity in this part of the world and there will be coexistence. And if that prevails, if we have a guardian, if we have an honest broker mediating between the two, I am sure things will be different.

SIMON: How do you rebuild all the destruction in Gaza?

SAIDAM: It's really difficult. You know, I was in Gaza myself 10 days or a week before the bombardment of Gaza, and life was extremely difficult. The Israelis are fully aware that Gaza is totally uninhabitable. There isn't enough potable water. There isn't enough infrastructure. And as you know, it is highly dense - densely populated, if not the densest - the most dense on Earth. And that makes life difficult in terms of the incapability of people to live and basically go about their daily life, which is really depressing.

Now the situation is much more worsening. I plan to go in the coming few days, and I'm sure what we will see is just a buildup of more misery. And imagine, my friend, when there's people who can only live in a strip of land whereby they cannot travel, they cannot access basic services, they cannot go about their daily lives. It's just, you know, building up more and more hatred and more and more resentment.

SIMON: What do you do about Hamas? How do you...

SAIDAM: I think...

SIMON: Go ahead, sir.

SAIDAM: As you know, every country has people of different walks and different schools of thought and different spectrum, so what you would need to do is basically uphold the message of peace, implement U.N. resolutions, end the occupation, and then Hamas and others will be convinced that the message of peace that has long, you know, been suspended is prevailing. And once that prevails, it will be very convincing for all radicals that there shouldn't be any more fighting, there shouldn't be more any - you know, more bloodshed into this part of the world. I think humanity is tired of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and now it is indeed what I say a call for action to see an end to all this.

SIMON: In any way, do Hamas and Israel's ultra-right assist each other?

SAIDAM: Well, that, I believe, is a philosophical question. What we often say is that once there is calm and peace, there's no need for any more conflict. And if, as I said earlier, peace prevails, there will be no reason for any more bloodshed, any more disputes, any more conflicts. And I think guns will be silenced, and the time will be allowing us for building more and more, you know, constructive life and coexistence.

SIMON: We've got about 20 seconds left. What can President Biden do, in your judgment?

SAIDAM: He had promised a change of tone. Let's hope and see. We are awaiting his implementation of plans. He had said a two-state solution is a workable formula. We need to see a Biden whereby we see an end to conflict and not the prolongation of what we have tasted over the last few decades.

SIMON: Sabri Saidam is the deputy secretary general of the Fatah Central Committee. Thanks so much for your time, sir.

SAIDAM: Thank you so much. It's a pleasure having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF RICHARD SPAVEN'S "CORLEONE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.