April 19, 2005 Special Dispatch No. 894

Hamas Political Head: Calming Down is Just a Trick Within the Resistance Plan; Hamas Does Not Object to the '67 Borders as an Interim Solution

April 19, 2005
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 894

A convention held by the Egyptian newspaper "Al-Ahram," which was attended by writers and experts on Palestinian affairs following the Palestinian Cairo agreement on calming down the situation [ Tahdiah ], also hosted the head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Mash'al. Speaking at the convention, Mash'al stated that the Tahdiah was a trick and that the resistance will continue as long as the occupation exists. Mash'al also expressed concern about the PA and Fatah taking over settlement lands after the withdrawal and stated that in the eyes of Hamas, there is no objection to the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders as an interim solution. The following are excerpts from Mash'al's speech: [1]

We Agreed to the Tahdiah to Prevent an Internal Palestinian Implosion

"We have made an achievement in the Palestinian arena... We wanted to avoid the internal Palestinian implosion that Sharon wanted. He [Sharon] wished for dissent [among us] so that he [could] pressure Abu Mazen to confront the resistance... [With our consent] we avoided it. Our second goal was to send a message to the international community that the problem does not lie with the Palestinian people or the Palestinian resistance, [but rather] with the occupation... Our third goal was to give a chance and headspace to set the Palestinian house in order... Fourth, we strived to achieve, through the temporary initiative of Tahdiah, a chance to fulfill the Palestinian peoples' direct interests, such as releasing prisoners...

"... Every term has a special meaning, and our choice [of the term] Tahdiah is not incidental. A Hudna [cease fire] is an agreement whose terms are acceptable to both sides, but in the current situation there are no such terms. The Palestinian side is the weak one... we treat this Tahdiah as a Palestinian initiative conditional to the other side fulfilling the terms...

"… Hamas controls its military wing... and despite that fact that it is one of the largest factions of the resistance, it is highly capable of keeping its men disciplined. Tahdiah means Tahdiah [and when you talk of] escalation, there is escalation. There is a commitment and it is honored... In the eyes of Hamas, Tahdiah is a trick within the resistance plans, [but] in the eyes of the [Palestinian] Authority, Tahdiah is a step on the way out of the resistance plan... but we still give it a chance... we can be patient and suffer, but not from the perspective of those who want to be free of the Intifada..."

Hamas Has Never Carried Out an Operation Whose Purpose Was to Sabotage Diplomatic Plans

"... Regarding the nature of the struggle, we know and understand that the international arena does not accept harming civilians... but the existence of the occupation requires resistance... Hamas is not in power and it operates according to the public's state of mind. If the public would shun the resistance, Hamas could not uphold it. We respect the public, for if not, why would we have accepted this Tahdiah now?...

"... Hamas's project is the resistance. [History] has not seen an occupation end without resistance... every negotiation devoid of resistance is useless... Hamas will become a political body only after an independent state is established. As long as there is occupation, it [Hamas] will combine the resistance with political activity...

"... We do not deny that when Hamas acts decisively, it often hurts the security and policy [of the PLO]. [We] make mistakes and we do not deny them. However, there are issues in which the Palestinians are not done justice, for example, the [the criticism of Hamas regarding] the timing of operations. Hamas has never carried out an operation whose purpose was to sabotage diplomatic plans. I do not want to take responsibility for the failure of plans that I am convinced were doomed [anyway]... I [myself] often do not approve of the timing of a certain operation, but can't control it due to the circumstances in the field. Hizbullah for example, have control because they are at the front [and can determine whether] to attack a certain target on a certain day or not... the opposition factions find it difficult to control the timing [of operations]..."

I Told Abu Mazen: "Beware, Less They Poison You as They Did Arafat"

"... As we draw near the end of the summer and the end of 2005, the following atmosphere will be created: The [diplomatic] settlement will be 'refrozen,' and one cannot deny the possibility that Sharon will blame Abu Mazen for being the obstacle for peace, just as Abu Ammar [Arafat] was considered one. Abu Mazen heard this from me, laughed, and said that 'this is a predictable and unsurprising scenario.' I replied: Beware, less they poison you as they did Arafat...

"... I cannot be satisfied with the 1967 borders alone and see them as a permanent solution... A Palestinian might say: 'Who gave you the right to forego the rights of Palestinians?' So Abu Mazen himself says, in his talks: 'I cannot forego the right of return.' It will be his political suicide, for there are 5-6 million whose problem must be solved. However, Hamas has no objection to accept the 1967 borders as an interim solution.

"... Is there ambiguity about Hamas's position regarding the future of the Palestinian state? [Does Hamas want] a democratic state or a bi-national one? We want a democratic state... in the religious aspect, we will not impose anything on the people, and we do not want fanaticism or extremism. As for a bi-national state, I understand the concept, but the meaning of a bi-national state is that you, the weaker side, ask for equal rights. I can ask for this for one hundred years, and we already have experience with the 1948 Palestinians [Israeli-Arab citizens]. A bi-bational [state] is not a practical solution and in the end [Palestinians will be annexed] to an occupation state..."

When Israel Withdraws From Gaza, There Will Be a Period of Rioting Over the Loot

"... There is concern that a conflict will break out over the loot [in the settlements that Israel will withdraw from in Gaza]. The main fear isn't from the public at large, but from the PA personnel – those who are supposed to be the guardians [of the assets] are themselves the thieves. All those who took land [without a permit] and built shacks on them on the beaches of Gaza are men from the [Palestinian] Authority and the [Palestinian] security forces. Therefore, there is an agreement among all Palestinian bodies that the Fatah or the PA will have no sole right on these lands. I fear that if Israel withdraws from Gaza, and it must, there will be a period of rioting or problems resulting from a conflict over the loot and control [and the question] of who will fill the void... Hamas will not be part of this conflict, but it will not let the decision in Gaza be a monopoly of one body. It will insist on being a partner with others..."

[1] Al-Ahram (Egypt), March 30, 2005.

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