Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Jaweed Al-Ghussein


Jaweed Al-Ghussein was one of the founders of the Next Century Foundation and has been a longstanding advocate for peace and reconciliation.

Jaweed was a key pillar of the PLO in the early days and was regarded by many as Yasser Arafat's right-hand man.

He was treasurer of the Palestinian National Fund for many years and served on the PLO Central Committee. He famously argued that Palestinian Jerusalemites should exercise their vote in the Jerusalem elections, losing the argument in the Central Committee by just one vote. Had Jaweed won the day, Teddy Kolek would have been bolstered by the Palestinian vote and would have served another term as mayor and much would have been different.

Jaweed helped establish the Next Century Foundation following a conversation with the late Claud Morris, the founder of the NCF, about their profound belief that a private forum must be created at which views could be exchanged in private between Israelis and Palestinians concerned to see peace in the Middle East. So earnest was he in this regard that he provided the initial core funding.

Later Jaweed split with President Arafat over the latter's support for Saddam Hussein during the invasion of Kuwait, an act for which President Arafat always bore a grudge. The bitterness between the two men reached such a pitch that it culminated in the high profile kidnapping of Jaweed in Abu Dhabi from whence he was taken to Gaza and imprisoned. No charges were ever laid against Jaweed though unsubstantiated allegations of financial irregularity from his days at the Palestinian Fund were circulated. During this period the NCF sent a number of emissaries to Gaza to solicit Jaweed's release, all to no avail. His case was taken up by the UN working group on Arbitrary Detention which determined that there was "manifestly no legal justification" for his imprisonment. His health deteriorated to such a degree in captivity in Gaza that he was thought to be dying and he was removed to hospital in Cairo. Efforts were made to facilitate his escape to the West but he was then snatched back to Gaza from the Palestine Hospital in Cairo once it became clear his health was improving. His health then deteriorated further and his continued imprisonment became an embarrassment. It was agreed that he be moved to hospital in Jerusalem. There Jaweed made a partial recovery and he was then able to leave for the West. He took up residence in London and enjoyed intermittent good health though he never fully recovered from the effects of his Gaza captivity.

He died late last night and is survived by his daughter Mona, his son Tawfiq, and his wife Khalida. He will be sorely missed.

The family have asked us to inform NCF members who may know Jaweed personally that the funeral is at 3 pm on Friday in Hendon Cemetary followed by a reception at 65 Chesterfield House, Chesterfield Gardens, London W1.

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