'Arafat Will Struggle to Keep Cease-Fire'

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TIME.com: How is the Palestinian street responding to the latest cease-fire?

Jamil Hamad: It's a very unpredictable area, and I don't advise anybody to make predictions.

The feeling among Palestinians is that this cease-fire has been declared without getting anything for them in return. The collective punishments imposed by the Israelis are becoming tougher and tougher. It's going to weaken the cease-fire, because the feeling is "why should we pay this price when we are getting nothing." Without giving the Palestinians a prize — lifting the closure and the economic sanctions — I think the cease-fire will be very temporary.

Does Sunday's decision by 13 radical Palestinian factions to continue the intifada mean they are defying Arafat? What is Arafat's motivation?

It's an indirect way of rejecting the cease-fire.

Arafat called for a cease-fire because he was warned by the Israelis and the Europeans and the Americans. He is interested at this stage to keep the Israelis away from his territory, not to strike against him. Technically he is interested in helping his own people. I don't know to what extent he is going to succeed.

What is the impact of the restrictions Israel has imposed?

What I see is that the international intervention comes from people who don't know the situation. They don't understand the screaming of those people who have been suffering under Israeli closure for the last eight months.

Sharon has a problem with Arafat, and we understand that, but what's the point of punishing the man and the woman on the street? America doesn't understand that. Here we are talking about people who have been put under a difficult economic situation. You can say that people in Gaza are starving. Not only Sudan people and African people are starving. People in Gaza are starving. Does the American administration understand that? I doubt it. They think that they have to deal with Arafat or one of his security men, and the solution will be available. That's not the case.

Where does all of this leave Arafat's political position?

He is trying his best to make the cease-fire go on, to keep the cease-fire alive, because Arafat is aware that without this cease-fire he will be attacked by the Israelis. So on the top of his priorities is keeping the Israelis away from him. He is trying to convince his factions (including the radical factions) that for the sake of the interests of the Palestinians we need to keep the cease-fire. To what extent he is going to convince them, I don't know.