- The Washington Times - Friday, June 1, 2001

JERUSALEM — Faisal Husseini, the man most closely associated with the Palestinian struggle for Jerusalem and one of the early advocates of peace talks, died yesterday of a heart attack. He was 60.

Mr. Husseini, who spent time in Israeli jails and later led Palestinian peace talks, was attending a conference in Kuwait. His bodyguard found him lifeless in his hotel room yesterday morning.

His death, coming at a time when fighting in the West Bank and Gaza has radicalized people on both sides, was symbolic for many Israelis and Palestinians of the peace process itself — a casualty of eight months of bloodletting.

"We lost a partner today, " said Yossi Beilin, the Israeli parliament member who helped engineer a series of now-defunct peace deals with the Palestinians.

Mr. Husseini, counted among a handful of potential successors to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, had both political clout and pedigree, a combination that made him enormously popular among Palestinians.

He was the PLO´s senior political leader in Jerusalem, acting as the unofficial mayor for the eastern half of the city that Palestinians view as their future capital.

Israel´s hold over the entire city and its claim to an "eternally indivisible" Jerusalem put him in constant friction with Israeli authorities, who threatened repeatedly to shut down his headquarters, known as Orient House.

But Mr. Husseini, who cultivated personal support from world leaders and had allies in successive Israeli governments, managed to fend off closure orders.

At Orient House yesterday, dozens of Palestinians sat on plastic chairs in the courtyard sipping bitter coffee and talking over the prayer chant of a lone Muslim muezzin.

"Husseini believed that no one would win this conflict and that if there wasn´t a real attempt to compromise, the fighting would go on forever, " said Halim Abu-Shamisieh, a political adviser at Orient House.

"He knew this from the experience of his own family," he said, referring to Mr. Husseini´s bloodline.

His great uncle, Haj Amin Husseini, was Jerusalem´s senior religious and political leader in the decades before 1948, the year Israel was established.


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