[Asharq Al-Awsat] I would like to start from what Asharq Al-Awsat published two days ago. Is Jihad really going through an acute financial crisis?
[Al-Nakhalah] Talking about a financial crisis at this stage is an honor for the Palestinian people and their resistance, especially if we take into consideration the siege imposed on Gaza, the siege imposed on the resistance powers in the West bank, and the siege imposed on the funds that go to the families of the prisoners and martyrs. If we are to talk about the financial crisis, we will have to link it to the siege, and not to circumstances related to the capabilities of every faction. Definitely the Jihad Movement, as long as it exists, can in one way or another provide the minimum of the requirements of its members and elements; however, sometimes there are overwhelming circumstances during which the movement cannot convey these requirements to those entitled to them.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] But the siege has been imposed for three years; why has the crisis emerged only in the recent months?
[Al-Nakhalah] Yes, the siege has been imposed for three years, and it should be known that funds are smuggled into Gaza, so are weapons, while the funds are confiscated from the banks in the West Bank.
However, I assure you that I am not saying that the Jihad Movement is rich and wealthy. What we can obtain from the donors can satisfy some of our needs, but the Jihad Movement remains a resistance movement; it is poor, and it always pursues to increase its resources as long as its body and its needs grow. I am talking about 2,000 prisoners, hundreds of martyrs, and their families and needs, hundreds of handicapped and their needs, and thousands of fighters. Our needs are big, and we always try to provide the minimum of financial capabilities.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you mean to say that this poverty is nothing new?
[Asharq Al-Awsat] You talk about sources of financing; what are these sources?
[Al-Nakhalah] I talk about sources of financing in general. The donors constitute a significant part of our sources, and another part is obtained from sources that can be official under the headline of families of the prisoners and martyrs. As a whole, our expenses are related to our day-to-day activities, and we receive most of the financing for these from donors. As for the prisoners and martyrs, we receive the financing under the headline “Prisoners and Martyrs,” and this financing is from sources which can be from other countries.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Therefore, there are countries that support you?
[Al-Nakhalah] Yes, there are institutions in countries that are interested in the affairs of the prisoners.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Iran announces publicly that it supports the resistance. Does Iran support you?
[Al-Nakhalah] A country such as Iran is interested in the affairs of the prisoners, detainees, and families of the martyrs. Iran has institutions that follow up this issue, and under this headline offers reasonable aid.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is this continuing until now?
[Al-Nakhalah] Certainly what Iran offers under this headline has not ceased, and I believe it will not cease.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Then, is there any other aid from Iran under other headlines that has stopped?
[Al-Nakhalah] No, no, no, there is no other aid. In general, we have sources other than Iran from which we can benefit. There are many do-gooders who give help.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Simultaneously with the financial crisis there is talk about ideas of a merger with Hamas, or joining the Hamas authority. Is there a link between the two issues?
[Al-Nakhalah] I do not know the source of this talk, and who promotes it. However, the reality on the ground says the opposite of this. We are a political movement that is present; we have our own vision of the conflict with Israel, and we will not abandon this vision; Jihad Movement will continue to hold the standard of resistance, and we will not recognize Israel.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What about the merger with Hamas?
[Al-Nakhalah] This is gossip by some people. We have a long experience in Gaza with Hamas; all the time we were trying to heal the internal rift. As for the talk about getting into Hamas, I do not know its source, or the aim of promoting it at this time. I am not denying an accusation, but there are no plans for this.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] But what about joining the PA and moving the military members of Jihad into the security organizations if they were to be formed again?
[Al-Nakhalah] It is completely premature to talk about this. The Palestinian reconciliation is wavering in place without moving forward. There is not even a real conception in Hamas or Fatah of the shape, form, or structure of these security organizations. We do not buy fish while it is still in the sea. We are very clear; when there is a PA and institutions with a clear program that adheres to the fundamental causes of the Palestinian people and the principles to which Jihad adheres, then we can talk. Now there is nothing. I have noticed in your newspaper that one of the brothers in Jihad talked about studying the issue of joining the security organizations; however the fact is that there is no talk whatsoever about this issue.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] As we talked about the merger with Hamas, what are your relations with it?
[Al-Nakhalah] Our relations with Hamas are good in general. Sometimes there are some field problems and disagreements. To begin with our general policy is that there ought to be no clashes on the Palestinian arena whatever the disputes might be. I say to you that we do not want to escalate any disagreement within Gaza prison. The continuous talk about internal conflicts does not serve the cause. We look for common factors.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] But Fatah says that you are closer to Hamas?
[Al-Nakhalah] Yes, because politically we disagree with Fatah completely. Fatah, with what it represents of the PA, has a political program that is committed to Oslo, and we disagree with Oslo, and the PA today arrest our supporters in the West Bank, and it used to arrest them in Gaza. Our disagreement with Fatah exists and will continue as long as it remains committed to the Oslo Accord. We are closer to the resistance, and not to Hamas; as long as Hamas raises the standard of resistance we will be with it in the same trench.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] You talk about arrests in the West Bank only; have not your members been exposed to arrests in Gaza?
[Al-Nakhalah] There are no arrests in Gaza now. It is possible that in some events some individuals are arrested for considerations linked to Hamas, but the subject will be closed on the spot. In these cases the reasons for the arrests are different. We say that we are against arrests for security reasons; we are against these arrests whatever the party that carries them out might be. We have talked before about arrests in Gaza, but these have been dealt with.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Let us go back to the issue of support. Why is there more support for Hamas, why do you receive less support than Hamas?
[Al-Nakhalah] I tell you that the open lines of Islamic Jihad are certainly less than those of Hamas. I think that this is due purely to political reasons. The political slogans and stances of Jihad are clear; we never flatter anyone in our political stances; even when the Arab countries presented the initiative, we had our clear stance toward it.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] You rejected it completely. Why is this?
[Al-Nakhalah] If Asharq Al-Awsat can publish this, the answer is that we consider the Arab initiative more dangerous than Balfour Declaration, because in the initiative the one who owns gives the one who does not deserve, while in Balfour Declaration the one who does not own gives the one that does not deserve.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] But another round of reconciliation is starting. Do you think that there are reasons for success this time?
[Al-Nakhalah] It is possible that the mediators will find a compromise over the pending issues. However, in my opinion, even if an agreement is reached, it will stumble later. This is because any reconciliation that is not based on clear political programs and agreements cannot succeed. Each side here has a different agenda, and a different vision of the way to manage the conflict with Israel, and the proposed solutions do not deal with these issues. Therefore, we will waver where we are. What I fear is that the reconciliation might go beyond what is planned, and encroach upon the Palestinian constants.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How?
[Al-Nakhalah] The countries sponsoring the reconciliation have clear policies, and they are in favor of the settlement plan; everybody will push any agreement to move in this direction. This is the source of the worry that Palestinian constants familiar to the Palestinian people, such as our historical rights, might be changed.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you mean such as the acceptance of a state within the borders of 1967, as Hamas announced?
[Al-Nakhalah] Certainly the acceptance of a state within 1967 borders is a dangerous step; according to Jihad assessment, such a step will not serve the cause.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Why is it dangerous? Do you consider it as recognition of Israel?
[Al-Nakhalah] The issue is not recognizing Israel. What is dangerous is for us to recognize that Palestine is what remains of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. More dangerous than this is the continuous talk by officials in Gaza and the West Bank about the two wings of the homeland, as if what remains of the West Bank and Gaza are the homeland. Changing the term of the homeland is a grave issue, and I call on these officials to stop this. The homeland is the historical Palestine, and not what they call the two wings of the homeland.