Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, September 2010
Palestinian Hamas Repositioning Itself?
New Policy Direction Must Be Better Marketed
By Stuart Littlewood
Redress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, September 13, 2010
Headed ‘Khaled Mesha'al lays out new Hamas policy direction’, the interview runs to 14,000 words and is not an easy read unless you find yourself on a long train journey without an attractive companion.
Nevertheless, it makes a real effort to begin the process of “coming in
from the cold” and deserves a wide audience.
New policy direction
I hope Mr. Mesha’al won’t mind too much if, for convenience, I reduce his lengthy and carefully worded position statement – for that is what it is – to a few bullet-points:
Hamas is a grassroots movement rather than a military group, and it exists to serve the interests of Palestinians at home and abroad. It is also a national liberation movement with resistance its main tool.
Hamas’s objective is ending the Zionist occupation and restoring Palestinian rights. Resistance is the means of achieving this.
Hamas only employ “legitimate resistance” – i.e. against the enemy occupying Palestinian land and holy places. It does not use resistance against its enemy’s allies who supply the weapons and munitions used to kill Palestinians. Nor does it extend resistance outside Palestine.
Resistance is a realistic option for Hamas. It has succeeded in removing the occupier from southern Lebanon and Gaza and is clearly effective in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Armed resistance against Israel is the result of Israeli occupation,
injustice and oppression, not religious differences.
Women are playing a wider role at the organizational level in Hamas.
Hamas believes that negotiations right now would only benefit Israel. Peace cannot be made when one party is so powerful and the other so weak. For the Palestinians, negotiation under these circumstances means surrender.
Hamas does not recognize Israel. Doing so would effectively legitimize the occupation and the rest of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Such recognition would be unacceptable in terms of international law and human values.
Israel’s drip-drip demand for recognition is a sign of weakness
bordering on an admission of illegitimacy.
Hamas aims to promote its just cause and win more friends internationally to support its legitimate right to resist the occupation.
here will be no peace in the region until the powers deal with Hamas and respect its interests and rights and quit favouring Israel at Palestine’s expense.
Hamas believes the Zionist entity is weakening and its “Greater Israel’ project is doomed. Israel is in a state of moral collapse and its ugly face has been exposed. Reading all the signs, it is unnecessary to bow to demands to negotiate a political settlement.
Hamas is in no great hurry. It’ll wait.
“It will be hard for Western readers, unless they are dyed-in-the-wool Israel stooges, to find much that’s objectionable in the new policy.” Stuart Littlewood
It will be hard for Western readers, unless they are dyed-in-the-wool
Israel stooges, to find much that’s objectionable in the new policy. Given
the decades-long suffering and the 90 years of betrayal, many will feel it
makes perfect sense from the Palestinian perspective. So it is a powerful
weapon – or it would be if edited down to a manageable size and presented
as a discussion document or released as a promotional leaflet.
Right now negotiation is “a fruitless gamble”
Addressing the thorny question of whether Mahmoud Abbas, a minority factional leader propped up by the US and Israel, should be negotiating with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians, Mesha'al scores some good points:
Negotiation needs to be based on unity at a national level. If one
party sees benefit in a certain step towards negotiation, and pursues such
a decision alone and without referring to the people, it will be placing
itself in a difficult situation and will grant the enemy an opportunity
which it will certainly use against it…
As regards the mantra endlessly mouthed by Western powers that Hamas
must recognize Israel, Mesha'al says: “We refuse to recognize the
legitimacy of Israel because we refuse to recognize the legitimacy of
occupation and theft of land.”
Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free
Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation.
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