Fatah member released from jail, running for office
Jamal Hawil, senior al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades member in Jenin, released only a few weeks ago from prison in Israel, jumps headfirst into political waters of the Palestinian Authority, calling them 'full of alligators.' Hawil: Israel is the extreme one. Decisions made in congress are height of pragmatism'
"Without any connection to the results, the fact that I am running and the support that I will receive despite it all proves that prisoners are a central player in the Palestinian arena," he said to Ynet.
Hawil was imprisoned for more than six years for his membership and local leadership of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's military arm. While still in jail, he was elected to the Palestinian parliament as a Fatah representative.
However, he is well aware that the sympathy shown towards him as a recently-released prisoner will not be sufficient on its own to gain him coveted membership in the Central Committee, made up of 21 Fatah leaders.
"My chances are the same as all the others. In other words, it isn't really clear because there are a lot of candidates. I hope to win, but even if I don't, it will be a victory for the movement," he said.
"I am running her in a jungle. There are a lot of alligators here, especially veteran ones, who aren't convinced that the young ones can get by. Because of this, they pulled the 20 years stunt."
Hawil, 38, managed to squeeze by with just a few months under the congress's attempt to weed out young contenders. The congress set a criterion for running for the Central Committee that only members with 20 or more years of Fatah membership under their belt may submit their candidacy.
"It saved me and allowed me to run. But there is no doubt that the older, veteran generation is not too enthusiastic to see us running under foot, competing for the posts reserved for them," said Hawil.
'Israelis are mixing things up'
Hawil responded to the attack made by Israeli government ministers on the decisions made in the congress, saying, "I don't understand which extremist decisions they are talking about, and I don't understand who here is the extremist – he who is outstretching his hand in peace and speaking about holding up international agreements, or he who the entire world has decided that he and his partner, Lieberman, are the most extremist government possible."
According to him, the Israeli government "denies peace agreements, deepens the occupation, increases the number of prisoners, and fights against the right of Palestinians to establish a state like all other nations.
"The Israelis are mixing things up. They are the extremist ones, and they cannot speak about other extremists. The decisions made in the congress are the height of pragmatism. The president (Mahmoud Abbas) has said that our hands are outstretched in true peace."