Following are excerpts from a public address delivered by Hamas Leader Khaled Mash'al, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on June 25, 2009.
To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit http://www.memri.org/legacy/clip/2162.
"We Welcomed the Change in Language Employed by Obama"
Khaled Mash'al: "When the Obama administration came to power, there was a change in the rhetoric vis-à-vis the region. But the question is: Who brought about this change, even if it is only a change in terminology? Are the [Americans] doing this out of altruism, or is there another reason?
“This change was brought about by the resolute steadfastness of the viable peoples of the region, who conducted resistance in Palestine, in Lebanon, in Iraq, and in Afghanistan, and rejected the occupiers, their injustice, and their dictates. They thwarted the policy of the former administration, with its veteran conservatives and its neocons, and they turned its escapades of hegemony and preemptive wars into utter defeat, drowning them in the quagmire of the region, and into successive crises. All this led the American voters to the option of change, in order to protect their own interests.
"The American rhetoric today about freezing settlement activity and about a Palestinian state is a good thing, but it is nothing new. Many U.S. administrations have talked about a freeze on settlement activities. Moreover, it is not enough. What is more important is the extent to which they accept the rights of our people, and the nature of the Palestinian state about which they talk, its borders, and its sovereignty. Therefore, the position of Obama's administration, as far as we are concerned, is still under examination. [...]
"We welcomed the change in the language employed by Obama, but to be honest, we will go no further than this, as long as this change does not extend beyond language. There is a problem even with the language. Obama discussed at length the suffering of the Jews and their Holocaust in Europe. At the same time, he ignored our suffering and the holocaust perpetrated by Israel for decades against the Palestinian people, the latest episode of which was the vile war, the real holocaust, perpetrated only a few months ago against our people in Gaza. [...]"
"We Categorically Reject the Israeli Position … and [the] Condition About a Demilitarized State"
"First of all, we categorically reject the Israeli position, stated by Netanyahu, with regard to the Palestinian rights, especially pertaining to the issues of Jerusalem, the refugees' Right of Return, the settlements, normalization of relations with the Arabs, his views on a Palestinian state, its territory, and its borders, and his condition about a demilitarized state. [...]"
"We Reject the So-Called 'Jewishness‘ of Israel"
"Secondly, we reject the so-called 'Jewishness' of Israel, and we warn against any Palestinian or Arab leniency in this regard, because it will mean the denial of the right of six million Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. It will also mean that our families in the 1948 territories will be driven out of their cities and villages. The call of the enemy's leadership for a Jewish Israel is a racist call, no different from the calls made by the Fascism of Italy or the Nazism of Hitler - obsolete calls, which have been rejected by the world. [...]"
"The Right of the Palestinian Refugees to Return to Their Homes … is Both a General, National Right and an Individual Right"
"The plan, which constitutes our people's bare minimum, which we accepted in the National Reconciliation Document as a joint political plan of all the Palestinian forces, is the establishment of a Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, with full sovereignty within the June 4, 1967 borders, after the withdrawal of the occupation forces, the removal of all the settlements, and the realization of the Right of Return.
"The right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, from which they were driven out in 1948, is both a general, national right and an individual right - the personal prerogative of over five million refugees. No leader or negotiator is allowed to downplay or waive this right. [...]"
As for Peaceful Resistance… It is Suitable for the Struggle for Civil Rights, but Not for the Liberation of a Homeland
"We emphasize our adherence to the resistance as a strategic option for national liberation and the restoration of our rights. No country in the world has the right to deny our people its right to conduct resistance against the occupier. The peoples of Europe exercised this right against the Nazis, the U.S.A. exercised this right against British rule, and so did the peoples of Asia and Africa that had been occupied. As for 'peaceful resistance,' which people are trying to preach to us - it is suitable for the struggle for civil rights, but not for the liberation of a homeland. When it comes to military occupation, armed with conventional and non-conventional weapons - it can be confronted only by armed resistance. [...]"
"We Appreciate the New Language Used by Obama With Regard to Hamas"
"We appreciate the new language used by Obama with regard to Hamas. It is the first step in the right direction, toward direct dialogue with no preconditions. We welcome this. Any dealings with Hamas and with the Palestinian resistance forces must be based on respect for the will of the Palestinian people and its democratic choice. It must not be based on preconditions, such as those imposed by the Quartet. Imposing preconditions on others is an arbitrary act, which is not appropriate for free peoples."